Tuesday, November 7, 2017

THE DOORS


No, not those doors. These doors ~



Decades ago I was in Melbourne for a Meeting, and on the morning of the first session I rang M, who was staying with J & P, to see if she was going in. M was in the shower, and J kindly chatted to pass some time. 

"What are you up to?" she asked.
"Oh, not much. But we have seen a block of land in the bush, and we're seriously thinking about buying it, and building a house."
"How fabulous. P and I have some land on the peninsula, and we were thinking of building, but have decided against. In fact we've bought the front doors!"
"You've what?"
"Bought the doors. You don't want any doors, do you?"
"Well, you know me. Who knows. Where are they?"
"Oh, here's M. They're in a shop in Albert Park. I'll give M the details"

We found the shop. We bought the doors. We shipped them to Sydney. We built a house around them.

So it happened that on Sunday, on our last night after the Trade Show, we ducked dining with the crowd, and opted for an early night before the drive home, and found ourselves in an Italian Restaurant not too far away from the hotel. In Albert Park. It was lovely, and deliciously traditional with terrific staff and smiles all round.


Full and happy, we walked a little after, along the wide streets, thinking we'd see a taxi. A tram rattled past. The sky was darkening. K was feeling the night air, and took to ordering an Uber. "No wait. I want to cross over, and see what's down there", feeling a vague familiarity. Not more than a few doors along from the intersection, there it was.


Where we'd bought J's doors, her wonderful doors, our happy threshold, unchanged from the day they left the shop. To our horror, not that much later news came that J's life had ended on the concrete of Chapel Street. What little we know. 



Sunday, November 5, 2017

MELBOURNE



                                                                  (albert park lake)


It's not nearly as bleak as it looks in the pic, although the air feels cold. Melbourne looks more like this these days ~




We are down for a trade show, and there's much to enjoy. The friendliness and helpfulness has caught me by surprise and reversed prior reservations. It seems to me there is a new generation who have an ease and confidence, perhaps from growing up in the 'world's most liveable' city without the defensiveness I used to think was hovering just below the surface.



The hotel is right on the lake, is very comfortable and the lobby is huge with lovely lounge areas, and nooks and crannies to sit and watch, and read. 




There's black swans on the lake, with signets. So cute.



It feels noticeably calmer than Sydney, its edges softer. Maybe I'm getting older. Well, that's a given. But I can say, I'm having a lovely holiday.




Monday, October 2, 2017

EMMA DUNCH



It's well time to shine the rainbow spotlight onto the incoming SSO CEO Emma Dunch. Her guidance and honesty and gold dust words in the Marriage Equality debate reveal a confidence and air of a leader whose values are as deep as they are precious.

And there's a sparkling brightness and energy of purpose and joy in the future leaping out which betrays, admittedly to my prejudiced eyes and ears, an Australianness, dare I say even a Sydneyness.






VOLTE-FACE


                                                    (emma dunch, right, and elizabeth scott)

In a welcome about-turn, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra Board has changed its mind on the pseudo neutral position it had taken in the current Marriage Equality debate. You may recall it supported the right of people to register their 'vote', but in deference to the mix of its stakeholders, found itself unable to take a stand one way or the other. To repeat myself, abstention is the failure to support the Yes, which is default support of the No.

The initial stance was met with outrage, ridicule, disbelief, and withdrawal of box-office support and patronage. It stays a wound which will heal and the extent of the scar is very much in their hands. My personal feelings are of overwhelming relief. I was ashamed and had taken steps to completely withdraw any formal association with the Orchestra to become an incidentalist.

And on the wave of public contempt, a tsunami even, the musicians themselves have made clear their own public support. It has been suggested the musicians were dissociated from the collective thinking by their recent trip to China, itself named as a possible constituent of those not to be disquieted.

But more significantly, for me at least, is the heartfelt and very moving statement by the incoming CEO, Emma Dunch. While her private life had been very much kept under the radar in the announcement and welcoming of her appointment, her beauty of thought and leadership on this issue augers well. We received this news, and these statements, via texts. Reading them out to K, I couldn't make it through Emma Dunch's in one read. Tearing up is one thing. Tearing up in Cross Street Double Bay quite another.

From the Board ~

The Sydney Symphony Orchestra initially decided that it should remain neutral on this question (marriage equality), taking the view that as a matter of principle it would not take a position that might be seen to commit its wide range of stakeholders to one side or the other. 

In doing so, the Board now acknowledges that it misjudged to need for such an organisation - with its long commitment to inclusiveness, equality and fairness - publicly to proclaim its support for the yes vote which plainly advances each of these ideals.

This decision has the overwhelming support of the SSO's musicians and staff.

From the musicians ~

The musicians of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra wish to unequivocally declare that we strongly support Marriage Equality.

We are proud of our history as a rich and diverse arts organisation performing every week to thousands of people who share our passion for the arts.

We believe in an inclusive and fair society fir all.

From the incoming CEO, Emma Dunch ~

As the incoming Chief Executive Officer of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra next January and an out, gay leader, I am proud to express my personal and professional commitment to advancing equality and inclusion for the LGBTQIA community, and to affirm my unflinching support for marriage equality. I believe that same-sex marriage is inevitable in Australia, and that this outcome is right and just.

Over the weekend, I have joined the SSO's musicians, staff and Board members in discussions that have helped clarify the organisation's position of support of marriage equality in Australia. I deeply appreciate the thoughtfulness that has been brought to bear throughout a respectful and nuanced dialogue. I know that there are very diverse views across Australia on this issue, and I respect the Board's commitment to encouraging every Australian to develop his or her own opinion, and to vote.

For me, personally, this is about more than my own identity. I believe that our society and our institutions are made stronger and more vibrant by the diversity of the individuals who people them. And I believe that denying those of us in same-sex relationships the civil rights accorded the married is the antithesis of the Aussie "fair-go" and perpetrates profound inequality. I hope that my home country will soon be one that validates my committed relationship of seventeen years.

Artists and their art have long played an important role in challenging accepted norms. I am committed to leading a Sydney Symphony Orchestra that champions its exceptional musicians, serves Sydneysiders in new ways, and provides value to our city beyond traditional concert-givng. I hope that you will join me and my colleagues on that journey, confident that the Sydney Symphony Orchestra will continue to welcome and support our LGBTQIA community and be an organisation that fosters respectful and meaningful dialogue around complex issues.

After nearly two decades in New York city, I will be returning to Sydney with my life partner Elizabeth  Scott (above left). We have been gratified by the terrifically warm welcome we have received from the SSO's Board, staff, and musicians. We look forward to making new friends when we arrive next year and to proudly counting ourselves among the many Australians who support a fair and inclusive society for all.

#VoteYes #LoveisLove







Saturday, September 30, 2017

PAYING THE PIPER



More on the SSO's inability to commit to Marriage Equality aka Same Sex Marriage aka Should Marriage be a Right available to all Citizens.

Despite its effusive self praise, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra as I noted has withheld public support for Marriage Equality in Australia which the vast majority of other arts institutions have endorsed - the MSO, TSO, WASO, ACO, Brandenebrg, Orch Victoria, STC, MTC, Malthouse, Belvoir, Australian Ballet, Opera Australia, Syd Phil Choir, Musica Viva, Bangarra Dance ...  ASO and QSO have not made statements.

The orchestra's Current Sponsors make for interesting reading.

One sponsors presumably because of a belief in the product and as a marketing tool - the consumer supports the sponsor who supports the product. Then, there's the reverse.

Principal
Emirates

Government
Australian Government
NSW Government

Premier
Credit Suisse

Platinum
Tianda

Major
APT
One Circular Quay
Sydney Airport

Official Car Partner
BMW

Technological Partner
Optus

Gold
Allens Linklaters
Bloomberg
CoxswainAlliance
Intercontinental
Symphony Services International
Theme Variations

Silver
Austria Arrive And Revive
The Committee for Sydney
immjj
Kilikanoon
Pages
Decca
Wilson Parking

Media Partners
ABC Classic FM
Fine Music FM

Vanguard Partner
Young Henry's

Regional Tour Partner
Rex Regional Express





Thursday, September 28, 2017

A KICK IN THE GUTS



I first heard the Sydney Symphony Orchestra live in 1965 in the Great Hall of Sydney University in Orientation Week. They were playing the New World. And it was a new world with which I was suddenly in love.

I have three loves now - Kim, Sydney and Music.

Now, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors has resolved, apparently unanimously, whatever that might mean, that:

"There is no question that the SSO strongly supports the rights of all citizens to place on the record their views, by way of private and confidential postal plebiscite and as such, the company does not feel it has the right to take a position and commit our stakeholders to be on one side or the other and had decided to remain neutral."

Weasel words. I suppose we should be grateful for small mercies - they at least support the right to vote, but even that seems a stretch for them, in that they have to say so.

Never one to mince words, Leo Schofield says it like it is, calling them cowards. Which They Are. Cowering in the face of whatever it is they fear - loss of patrons I suppose. Well, they just lost this one. And fear is what it is; fear of what exactly in their case, other than dollars, is another matter.

Leo continues

"In defying the palpable solidarity of the arts community and its manifold supporters, the craven directors of the SSO have, by this decision, aligned themselves with the antediluvian Catholic Archbishops of Sydney and Brisbane, the ginned-up contributors to the skewed letter pages of the Australian, the smoke-screening non-entities of the Christian right and those parliamentarians too cowardly to put the issue to a vote on the floor of the house."

"But despite the current frenzy of piety, hypocrisy, prejudice and hatred, whether by a victory in this farcical process or by the sheer force of history, Australia will, and sooner rather than later, bow to the irresistible force of time and join the twenty-two other enlightened countries that have legislated for same sex marriage"

"The reason the board, supposedly unanimously, has opted for this course is that they don't want to politicise music. Utter drivel. Music, even in the pursuit of change, has always been political."

There is no abstention. There is only Yes and No. Abstention is a default No.

If I hadn't just renewed my sub, I would now not. Whatever concerts I might be interested in in next year's uninspired programming, I'd be more than happy to take a chance on. That's how I feel. Music for me is all but completely an emotional experience. And so is my politics.

As I said to them today - 'I am deeply saddened by the failure of the SSO board to have the courage and decency and respect for all persons to publicly support the Marriage Equality issue. There is no way that I (and I suspect others) can divorce that from how I feel about the organisation. I am absolutely in shock. Even a change of mind on their part I would now see as a capitulation to public ridicule, rather than a reflection of their mind set. This will take a long time to come to terms with.'