Jig's Up

jig’s up march 17

This month’s DTs. American composer John Adams wrote an opera about President Richard Nixon – Nixon in China. In an interview, he was asked whether he would now write one about Trump.

Said Adams, ‘The idea of a Trump opera doesn’t interest me in the least. First of all, because so much of what he does is theatre to begin with. It’s a terrible form of exploitive theatre, but there’s no point in trying to make theatre about theatre.

Furthermore, you don’t want to spend time as an artist giving your very best to a person who is a sociopath. He’s not an interesting character, because he has no capacity for empathy. The only empathy that he can extend is to his family, who are just extensions of his own ego, and beyond that, he doesn’t care. Everyone else is someone to be manipulated and controlled.’ Read the interview with John Adams on KQED radio, San Francisco. 1

Eva Kong as Madam Mao, Victorian Opera’s Nixon in China

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Opera Australia is at last getting some heat in the media over its treatment of local singers. The Daily Review notes the National Opera Review findings that the number of performances by Australian singers in leading roles at the company over the years 2010 to 2016 dropped from 778 to 383. At the same time, the number of performances by international singers in leading roles has more than quadrupled, from 60 to 251. Some former Australian stars are almost abandoned. We would expect that the national opera company would take it as a major responsibility to support Australian singers.

It goes further: there’s ‘a very important list’.

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Meanwhile, the former CEO of Opera Australia, Craig Hassall, whose main comment when George Brandis cut Australia Council funding to the small companies and individual artists, was that his company was doing OK, is going off to become CEO of the Royal Albert Hall in London. Bye.

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It is rumoured that the Chair of the Opera Review, which recommended increased funding to opera, has been lobbying for it. OK, perhaps that is her responsibility but if she were to succeed, it would be the last straw for the arts community. Opera has suffered no cuts under this Federal government while funding for just about everything else in the arts has been shown no mercy. Tact may be in short supply but let us hope at least for an instinct for self-preservation.

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The Lennon Bus proposed tour.  Something that seems to have drawn together Labor and the Coalition is a keen interest in getting the Lennon Bus to come to Australia. The bus travels around to schools to teach kids about music and music technology. Coalition Senator Barry O’Sullivan and Labor Senator Glenn Sterle have invited MPs, staffers and journalists to come meet the brains behind the bus in a push to garner support for bringing the bus down from the northern hemisphere for an Australian tour.

This is all very well but most kids will miss the bus. Jig’s wishes the pollies could agree to actually fund school music education, with real teachers, in all schools, year-round.

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After a couple of decades, two members of the wonderful a cappella jazz quartet, The Idea of North, are moving on. Sally Cameron can already be found doing solo gigs and Andrew Piper no doubt will follow. Nick Begbie and Naomi Crellin have to find and induct replacements into a very large repertoire that has to be learnt by heart and sung with enormous nuance. Quite a challenge for the new singers.

But they will have their influence. It will be interesting to see how the group evolves.

Sally and Nick are in the centre

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According to a new poll, songs from musicals are the least likely to get played in the British bedroom. Musicals came dead last (1%) in a list of the 19 genres of music that couples listen to as the lights go down. Even chamber music, thrash metal and hymns ranked higher. Hymns?!

But aren’t musicals all about lurv?

So what musical genre was found to have the most sex appeal? R&B (16%).  Imagining R&B and the English bedtime choreography can keep you going for a while!

(The survey of more than 2,000 people was conducted by Birmingham’s Symphony Hall.)

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Australian electronic artist Flume has won a Grammy for his album, Skin. Wonderful.

Flume with Kučka & Kai

You can read Mandy Stefanakis’s review of Skin in the Loudmouth archive at http://musictrust.com.au/loudmouth/skin/ .

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‘Our US government spends roughly as much on paper clips and copy paper as it does on all of the nation’s theaters, museums and libraries combined.’ – Matt Burriesci, Salon. See his great article in the Growing Edge.

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