Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I'm waiting for the woodman to deliver a big load. This weather - the days have been consistently cool to cold and the nights too of course, but without dropping to or below zero. The grass is not yet frosted off. Nonetheless I've been burning through the home-cut wood at a fast rate and now need some bought ones.

Meantime, there's bits of news around.

You have to laugh before you cry - the increasingly unattractive (and I'm not talking about her looks, though I could be) world's richest woman (look - I can turn this lump of black stuff into fabulous pearls the size of asteroids) is determined to get editorial control on the oldest and arguably still independent broadsheet in the country, our Herald, already being nicked The Sydney Mining Herald. She's hardly endearing - the family is at war with itself in the courts, she stood waving a poor-me placard on a (sturdy) fruit box railing against the mega-miners paying more tax for ripping the guts out of the country. And she doesn't believe in global warming. I bet she believes in air conditioning.

Nor does she have a philanthropic bone in her body someone hissed when the subject of a tiddly mill here or there was raised in the admirable context of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra embarking on improving the quality of its strings through acquisition as the ACO has been doing with such success. Matthew Westwood has a great pay-wall-free piece in today's Australian on that subject headed by a very eye-catching photo of Julian Rachlin who is here in Sydney to play the Berg Violin Concerto with the orchestra. If there's anything in the Sydney Mining Herald I can't find it, so well done to the Murdoch press for such a long and informative story. And here's the Saint-Saëns in which he 'dazzled' and surely loosened a few pockets:

"What is driving the material ambition of Australian orchestras? Consistency of strong sound, which the Sydney Symphony regards as so desirable, is only part of the story. Special instruments bring glamour and exclusivity to an ensemble, or what marketers would describe as a unique selling point. The aura of success is attractive to audiences and supporters alike."

While Mr Westwood suggests there may be need for some caution in fetishising antique instruments, investors are on fairly solid ground. On the graph of a Strad vs Gold vs Dow Jones for value over time, the old violin wins by a long bow.

The other big acoustic news is that my huffing and puffing was premature and unnecessary. All is about to be revealed, and sooner rather than later, as the funereal drapes are to go and altered sections of the concert hall revealed. The serrated timber sides, I hear, will be changed to a finish that is promised to remove 65% of the existing acoustic problems. That figure met with some scepticism by those, and I am one, who think a big part of the problem is the vaulted ceiling above the concert platform. Fingers crossed.

And this morning comes the news that the American Deborah Voigt has cancelled out of her down under tour citing the need for hip surgery. It's a very late withdrawal (fractures aside, and I do hope it's not that) for an operation which usually takes some planning and has significant recovery time. She will be replaced by Angela Denoke whose Salome I was especially lucky to hear. Refunds are offered. I'd keep my tickets.


Susan Scheid said...

Maybe not premature--maybe they heard you on those drapes! Anyway, good to see something will be done. As for Voigt, as you know, I have not much of a track record when it comes to opera, so have limited basis on which to judge. I can only say that I've heard Voigt in three or four roles, including her Die ägyptische Helena, Die Frau Ohne Schatten, and Götterdämmerung, and I still don't understand what is so loved about her voice. So I say, yes, keep your tickets.

wanderer said...

Very kind of you, but they've been working on the acoustic panels for some time and the drapes were always makeshift. I'm so in the dark.

To be honest Susan, I didn't buy tickets to Voigt but having already been thrilled by Denoke I am thinking maybe maybe I'll try and get there.