Jig’s Up – February 2015

Post by , February 3rd, 2015

This is the cradle to the grave edition of Jig’s Up.

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Tony Abbott, in his 2014 Ministerial reshuffle, removed childcare from the Education portfolio and placed it in Social Services under its new Minister, Scott Morrison. What are the messages here? Childcare is a form of welfare, not a part of education during the years when most brain development takes place? Childcare is not really for the child, but a strategy for getting parents into work and off government payments?

Scott MOrrison

Scott Morrison points to the right with his left hand

Our speculation was confirmed on the teev. Cuddly child lover Scott Morrison said that every proposition he considers will have to face the test: “Will it increase participation in the workforce?”

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In the early 1980s, Jig’s interviewed the Director of the “Saturday school” at the Juilliard School of Music in New York. This is a music program for children which, being Juilliard, attracts the most talented kids in that extraordinary city.

Jig’s just came across the notes. The Director was asked to give a general description of the program and chose to describe a day in the life of a student. “The student has a private lesson from 7.30 to 8.30, orchestra from 8.30 to 11.00, theory 11 to 12, solfege 12-1, orchestral repertoire 1-3, small ensemble 3-4, mixed ensemble 5-6 (whoa – was there an hour snuck in for lunch at 4?), extra orchestra rehearsal 6-7.30. The Director said “But we treat the students very kindly.” Perhaps push a cube of sugar into their mouths when they have done well?

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FBi is the exemplary contemporary music community radio station in Sydney with a big commitment to broadcasting Australian – especially local – musicians. Its goal is 50% Australian artists with half of those coming from Sydney.

Bob Barton

Bob Barton

Now the Jack Daniels Future Legends initiative will fund the construction of a state of the art live to air venue called FBi Live. Designer of Melbourne’s Golden Age Cinema and Bar and other venues, Bob Barton, will be in charge of the design. FBi has over 470,000 listeners in a city of 4½ million.

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The hurdles in becoming a professional opera singer are numerous and high. One of them is becoming a non-professional opera singer. Young singers not only have to learn to sing, they must be able to act and that requires that you actually get on stage and perform roles. Alas, opportunities are rare. There are very very few non-professional opera companies in Australia. Jig’s can think of four.

ONE singersMorgan Balfour, Jermaine Chau and Anna McDougall sing in Carmen

Opera New England, performing in Armidale, is one of them. It has just finished its third annual production. Jig’s just got back from ONE’s Carmen, performed in the excellent 240-seat theatre at The Armidale School (TAS). Singers travelled from Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide; they were supported by a proficient small orchestra of residents led by local doctor Bruce Menzies. Everyone comes together for nine days of total immersion, ending with a lively production with four sold out performances. The project depends upon enormous commitment from volunteers – but what a great thing to do!

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Opera Australia’s Young Artist program takes four singers, Victorian Opera’s seven singers. That’s it for the five main Australian companies (according to information on their websites).

Goss: Three of the six young artist positions at the Royal Opera at Covent Garden are filled by Australians this year. We are told it will happen again next year.

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Greece and Spain’s economies are basket cases, yet their opera companies are flourishing. This is a really interesting story. The Greek company especially is an inspiration in taking opera to the people AND performing new works.

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Carnegie Hall will start a new project to commission some 125 new works over the next five years to celebrate its 125th anniversary. “New music has to be part of the future of music,” Clive Gillinson, Carnegie’s executive and artistic director, said in an interview. “Obviously, the heritage is unbelievable — it’s some of the greatest creations of the human race. But it’s still got to be moving forward.” (New York Times, January 28.)

Whatever happened to the Sydney Conservatorium’s project to commission 100 works to celebrate its centenary this year? Have they been written? How do we hear them?

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Although Malcolm Turnbull reckoned the funding cuts to the ABC could be absorbed in the “back office”, at Classic FM they have resulted in really major staff losses, most of them in production.

andrew ford

Andrew Ford’s Music Show on RN is cut intotwo halves, one on Saturday, one on Sunday

Included is one of the two members of the recording team in Perth, the producer, which means that the ABC appears not to have staff to broadcast or record the West Australian Symphony or indeed, anyone else. It is the only city where the ABC is now incapable of recording the orchestra, and the one least well located to fly in a producer.

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There were many fewer music people recognised in the Australia Day Honours. As you know, there are four levels of awards: AC, AO, AM, OAM. This year 2 music people received AMs and 6 received OAMs, for a total of 8.

Margaret Pride

Perth choral conductor Margaret Pride received an OAM

The two previous sets of awards had these outcomes for music: Australia Day 2014 – 2 AC, 6 AM, 12 OAM (total 20); Queen’s birthday 2014 – 8 AO, 5 AM, 20 OAM (total 33).
There are many more important things. Ask Prince Phillip. But it would be discouraging to think that this reflected a diminution of already low interest and support from the country’s leaders.

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Cradle to grave. We meant it. We are told this is composer Alfred Schnittke’s gravestone.

Schnittke's grave

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