Tag Archives: choir

Weekend Coffee Share November 27, 2016

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Not quite sure what type of beverage to offer you today. Being Summer over here, a glass of water might hit the spot and you might want to save your hot drinks for cooler climes.

How was your week?

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Miss outside Qudos Bank Arena. “Dream Big”…the theme for School Spec this year.

After celebrating my husband’s 50th Birthday last Sunday, the big event this week has been attending NSW School Spectacular held last night at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena. Our daughter was singing with her school in a huge mass choir with 3,500 students all dressed in matching white skivvies. It’s been a full on week. She had two full days of rehearsals midweek followed by two performances on both Friday and Saturday. So as much as being a part of School Spec is fun, it also takes commitment, hard work and a lot of organisation behind the scenes. Unfortunately, as we forgot to plant a locating beacon  or  take the Hubble telescope, we didn’t actually see our daughter perform but were with her in spirit.  Meanwhile the featured acts were very impressive including Fletcher Pillon, who won Australian X-Factor this year with a heartbreaking song about his little brother Benji who was tragically killed when he was run over riding his skateboard. I must also mention that I took much more notice of the dancing this year and even recognised many of the steps from my lyrical dance class. Not that I’d pulled them off with such agility, grace and finesse. However, I wasn’t watching myself dance in my lessons. Both eyes were focused on my teacher and naturally, I absorbed her moves as my own.

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The Finale.

Quite aside from School Spectacular, I’ve had a  creatively productive week.

Firstly,  Merril Smith put me onto an online  magnetic poetry site. They provide you with a selection of words to a theme and you try to build a poem out of it. You can get words relating to various themes such as nature. I’ve written a few magnetic poems this week and found the exercise extremely encouraging. The words gave my poetry rich symbolism and stretched my thinking. I was thrilled with the results and recommend you have a go. Please pop back and share your efforts. I’d love to read them. You can also read my efforts: The Path and The Poet Muse.

messy

In addition to the magnetic poetry this week, I’ve also started reading an absolutely incredibly amazing book: Messy: How to Be Messy in a Tidy-Minded World.  I recommend you all rush out and buy it. I promise it will significantly expand how you experience creative inspiration through opening your mind to messy and chaotic approaches, which often yield surprisingly impressive results.

One of the things I have found most interesting is the idea of jolting yourself out of a creative block. I was so intrigued by a set of random cards created by Brian Eno called Oblique Strategies, that I wrote a post about them and intend to try them out. After reading about choreographer Twyla Tharp, I read elsewhere that she advises dancers to “jump” when they experience a creative block.

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© CEayr.

I also participated in  Friday Fictioneers. This week’s prompt was a locked, chained door set into a sandstone structure. It looked quite intriguing and reminded me of a door I’d seen attached to a sandstone cave on the waterfront at Palm Beach. Naturally, this door has always intrigued me and I thought it would make a perfect pirate’s lair and pictured mermaids swimming through the sea around their ship. However, instead my flash was called: “Never too old for Divorce”. It’s the story of a retired gent whose wife is a monomaniacal cleaner and he’s withdrawn to his cave to have some breathing space. Unfortunately, I had to cut a lot out to meet the 100 word limit. In the original version, his cave was decked out with a flat screen  TV, microwave, boxes of Chardonnay and he’d also salvaged his trophies from the roof. Of course, she’d banished them up into the roof calling them dust traps although her precious collection of tea cups was okay. Indeed, the tea cups had moved into his trophy cabinet. It was hard to leave all of that out so I’m working on an extended 1500 word version.

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Our son seems to enjoy sailing in a bathtub AKA the Optimus.

Yesterday morning, I also had some photography fun. While I usually do the dance run and my husband drives our son to sailing, we switched roles yesterday and Geoff took Miss to School Spectacular and I found myself at the Sailing Club with menacing storm clouds on the horizon. Yummy! Well, perhaps Yummy is not the right word but I LOVE photographing clouds and the darker the better. While these clouds weren’t quite up to the hail clouds two years ago, I’d rather watch those clouds on TV these days. Getting caught in that storm was pure terror.

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By the way, in case you’re wondering what Mister was sailing, he had a go in the Optimus better recognised as “the bathtub” and then moved onto a Feva (I thought it was a “Fever” but what would I know.)  As much as I love sailing, I’m pure ballast and just strive to keep my head away from the boom.

Now, we’re switching gears as Christmas parties and the end of year dance concert approaches. Unfortunately, yours truly won’t be performing. The adults have respectfully been shown to our seats.  I’ve also bailed out on my violin concert. With so much going on, I decided not to do ensemble this year and decided to perform early in the new year at a soiree in the studio. As much as I love performing, with so much on, it’s been a relief.

What have you been up to? How’s your week been?

I hope things are going well.

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Deborah over at  Part-Time Monster  and click here for the linky http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=680139

xx Rowena

 

Aussie Jingle Bells.

Being a good Australian, I love a good yarn and a bit of theatre and so I thought I’d share this Australian version of Jingle Bells with you: Aussie Jingle Bells. I still recall my kids singing it at pre-school and we’ve also sung it at a family Christmas Day sing-a-long. We only had one of those and I’m sure it must’ve been this carol that killed it off.
I’ve included a u-tube link and the words so you can sing-along from wherever you’re sitting right now but if you’re currently experiencing Winter, please turn the heater up to “roast” so you can fully appreciate an Australian Christmas.

Aussie Jingle Bells

Dashing through the bush,
in a rusty Holden Ute,
Kicking up the dust,
esky in boot,

Kelpie by my side, Singing Christmas songs, It’s Summer time and I am in my singlet, shorts and thongsOh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,
Christmas in Australia
on a scorching summers day, Hey!
Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut!,
Oh what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden Ute.

Engine’s getting hot;
we dodge the kangaroos,
The swaggie climbs aboard,
he is welcome too.
All the family’s there,
sitting by the pool,
Christmas Day the Aussie way,
by the barbecue.

Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,
Christmas in Australia
on a scorching summers day, Hey!
Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut!,
Oh what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden Ute.

Come the afternoon,
Grandpa has a doze,
The kids and Uncle Bruce,
are swimming in their clothes .
The time comes ’round to go,
we take the family snap,
Pack the car and all shoot through,
before the washing up.

Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,
Christmas in Australia
on a scorching summers day, Hey!
Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut!,
Oh what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden Ute.

 

Lyrics taken from <a href=”http://www.elyrics.net/read/b/bucko-&-champs-lyrics/aussie-jingle-bells-lyrics.html” rel=”nofollow”>this page</a>

Just in case this needs a bit of translating, here’s Santa is what could well be a Holden Ute:

Hope it brought a smile to your face!

xx Rowena

The Rugged Road to School Spectacular…

Nothing makes my stomach churn more than yet another parent gushing about their progeny’s achievements. Indeed, this chunderous gushing of  superlatives has almost had me hospitalised in the past. Just call me Mr Creosote from Monty Python’s Meaning of Life. A bucket simply isn’t big enough! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aczPDGC3f8U

Film and Television

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Moviestore Collection/Rex / Rex USA (935963a) Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life, Terry Jones, John Cleese Film and Television

However, just because someone is young and just happens to be my daughter, does that mean I should repress my pride and hide her under a proverbial bushel? Especially, when my pride has nothing to do with her singing ability but is more about her incredible tenacity and persistence in the face of formidable adversity?

Of course not!

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Miss Spectacular

After spending a few months under the medical microscope, Miss performed at School Spectacular last weekend, singing 30 songs as part of the 1,500 voice Combined Choir. It’s a privilege for anyone to appear at School Spec but after being diagnosed with severe vocal nodules on top of a rare digestive disorder, Miss was definitely overcoming the odds. Indeed, after undergoing months of voice therapy, it’s been a rather rugged road to School Spectacular!

Around April this year, Miss was diagnosed with having severe vocal nodules, which are basically blisters on your vocal chords. Her voice was very squeaky and she was missing letters in words and it difficult for her to talk, let alone sing. These nodules were caused by vocal abuse (ie screaming at her brother and less often mother) and stomach acid. The treatment involved intensive speech therapy and regular exercises and it probably won’t surprise you that routine isn’t our thing. We wanted that magic pill…the instant fix but without any alternative, we had to rise to the challenge.

Amelia hospital

Miss in Hospital

At the same time we found out about the vocal nodules, Miss was also diagnosed with Delayed Gastric Emptying, a rare disease where her digestion is very slow and she doesn’t feel hungry. Consequently, she doesn’t eat. She also gets stomach aches, reflux and all sorts of symptoms from not eating. She has been seriously underweight and had real trouble staying alert. She was looking pretty sick for awhile there before we found some food replacement drinks, which had made quite a difference to her weight and equilibrium.  She’s also been prescribed an appetite stimulant. You can just imagine what her moods have been like when she’s not eating at all! It’s been a serious concern.

While these problems weren’t imminently life-threatening, she went through a battery of tests and even a hospital admission in a very short period of time. While she didn’t say it felt like the end of the world, you could see those thoughts written across her sullen face. What with having a chronically ill mother and knowing what I go through, she was no stranger to what living with a chronic illness entails. She knew that when it came to life’s game of Snakes and Ladders, she’d definitely landed on the snake and wasn’t happy!

snakes &amp; ladders

Snakes & Ladders…life’s ups and downs.

Fortunately, sometimes those ladders can equally be just around the next corner…

Of course, when I heard how bad her voice was, I was absolutely devastated. It was the vocal equivalent of being told your child is on the verge of spending their life in a wheelchair. Although it wasn’t going to kill her, for a kid who loves singing, drama and is thinking of becoming a teacher, this was serious stuff.

Of course, I knew it could be a  lot worse but pointing that out when she was devastated, doesn’t help. She needed hugs,  time and if she just stuck with her exercises, everything would be absolutely fine! Denial can be a wonderful thing!

Knowing how hard it is for anyone to stick with such exercises, her speech therapist dangled the School Spectacular carrot in front of my wide-eyed daughter. She even spoke to the teachers at school to develop an integrated, team approach. This was really inspired thinking because our Little Miss is extremely strong willed and that will doesn’t always comply with requirements.

Her voice was so bad that she was told that she needed to rest her voice. She wasn’t allowed to sing for at least 3 months and had to mouth the words at choir. Of course, this was like shutting a wild bird in a cage but she complied. I love singing myself so I know what that meant.

Amelia Gretel on stage

Miss on Stage Performing Marta with her Musical Theatre Class.

That was until it came to auditioning for the role of Marta, the second-youngest Von Trapp child in the Sydney production of The Sound of Music. Miss does musical theatre and she came home from class with a web address to apply for auditions

As far as I was concerned, getting the role was the equivalent to flying to the moon. Of course, you superficially encourage their dreams but you don’t even need to look deep in your heart to know that this is a dream and not part of the real world. It’s your job as parent to encourage such dreams while gently bringing your child back down to earth safely without smashing into a thousand pieces. After all, we all know what happened to Humpty Dumpty!

Knowing how much the vocal nodules were affecting her voice, I knew she didn’t stand a chance and subtly tried to encourage her to audition for something next year. Next year when, of course, everything would be better and “just fine”.

Of course, she wouldn’t hear of it and burst into tears: “But Mummy! I’m the right height now and I’ll never be the right height ever again!”

As a parent, you come to appreciate when you’re beat. I filled out the application and attached a photo and pressed send. Meanwhile I developed a nasty bronchitis and was on standby to go to hospital when the email arrived. She had an audition.

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Practicing for her audition.

 

 

She didn’t receive a callback but she was stoked about the audition and a seed was definitely planted.

Swings and roundabouts, missing out on Sound of Music meant she could still do School Spec. Yes! Miss and her entourage were starting our way up the ladder again.

You can read about School Spectacular here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/12/01/introducing-school-spectacular/

Among the 30 songs our daughter sang with the Combined Choir, one had a particular resonance:

 “Climb every mountain,

Ford every stream,

Follow every rainbow,

‘Till you find your dream.”

Rodgers and Hammerstein, The Sound of Music.

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Sound of Music Tram near School Spectacular.

It almost brought tears to my eyes knowing just how far she’d come and what it meant to her not only to be able to sing in the shower again but to perform in School Spectacular. As she said:

“Last year, being in School Spec was my dream and it came true!”

Of course, achieving such dreams doesn’t happen single-handed and our choir had an impressive support crew headed by the choir teacher, exhausted parents and I’m also going to mention big brother who has been supporting his sister’s creative dreams without getting jealous and has simply encouraged her. Thanks to her friend’s family, Miss also enjoyed fabulous accommodation across the road and was spared a lot of travel. Geoff and I were also incredibly thankful for that. It was great to give the “taxi” a break.

I hope our daughter’s story might encourage you to overcome your hurdles and reach for the stars. That the seemingly impossible can become a reality and even exceed your expectations.

So, even though I’m risking joining the chunderous brgging parents collective, in so many ways our daughter’s journey to School Spectacular has made her a  hero:

Hero

There’s a hero
If you look inside your heart
You don’t have to be afraid
Of what you are
There’s an answer
If you reach into your soul
And the sorrow that you know
Will melt away…

And then a hero comes along
With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you’ll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you
That a hero lies in you
That a hero lies in you

Mariah Carey

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IA3ZvCkRkQ

If you have written any encouraging posts about overcoming similar difficulties, please leave a link in the comments below.

xx Rowena

 

Introducing School Spectacular.

As I mentioned in my previous post, our daughter performed with her school choir at School Spectacular last weekend. As most of you live overseas, I thought I’d give you a brief introduction to “School Spec”…the extravaganza of a lifetime!

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The Marching Band Performing Outside.

Held at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, the 2015 Schools Spectacular involved 3,600 performers from more than 400 public schools. Fifty-one featured artists were joined by 2,000 dancers and a 1500-voice choir. You can just imagine how that all looked under lights!

The 2015 theme—This is our World—reflected the dreams and hopes of young people through the medium of music and dance.

The Schools Spectacular is a real melting pot involving students of varying ages, cultures, skills and socio-economic backgrounds, hailing from country, metropolitan and isolated regions of NSW.

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Miss Spectacular

Our daughter performed with the Combined Choir, under Choral Director Ian Jefferson. They accompanied featured artists right throughout the night, performing 30 songs complete with actions after an intensive rehearsal schedule. I was getting tired just watching them but although a few fell asleep before the finale, most of them just kept going and going and going like the famed Eveready bunny.

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The Combined Choir during the Finale. This was around 11.00 PM and they were still going!

As you’d expect, the usual platitudes get rolled out at these events and yet there is such truth. Saying that being in School Spectacular is something you’ll never forget isn’t just rhetoric. It’s so true. Moreover, it really does give the kids the experience of what it means to perform in a big, professional production what with grueling rehearsal schedules, being on time and being part of a team. They are also touched by the more experienced performers and absorb their experience like thirsty sponge.

I should also mention that it doesn’t take long to realise that School Spec isn’t just about showcasing young talent. It’s also about promoting Public Education and showing off all it has to offer. That it isn’t second best.

As a creative person myself from a family of musical performers, what I do know is that it’s not always easy to get that opportunity to perform and like writers getting published, for many musicians they’re desperate to be heard. Have that venue and feel the exhilaration of performing in front of such a large, vibrant crowd…the thrill!

finale

The Finale.

If you are local, School Spectacular will be televised on Saturday 7.00 PM and you can look out for Miss Speck-tacular among the sea of white shirts.

xx Rowena

 

 

 

 

 

A Spectacular Performance -Weekend Coffee Share: November 29.

This week, you’re invited on a virtual cafe crawl as we catch the train from Woy Woy to Sydney. Have breakfast in Glebe then drive two hour’s North via the Sydney Harbour Bridge to the Hunter Valley and then back down to Parramatta in Western Sydney and back home again. I assure you with this grueling schedule, you will require every single coffee and no doubt a few nature stops along the way.

The last week has been truly incredible.

finale.JPG

Before we get onto my daughter’s performance at School Spectacular, I just wanted to touch on a bit of a shadow which hung over things last week.

You see, my daughter was concerned about being caught up in a terrorist attack while she was in Sydney. Of course, being a kid, she didn’t express her concerns so succinctly. She simply asked where she could buy herself her own armour after seeing Police with bullet-proof vests on TV. I had a chat with her about it all, advising her on a few things she could do if she was in an emergency, which I outlined in this post: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/11/25/a-conversation-no-parent-should-have/

I have to admit that even though I knew the chances of her getting caught up in a terrorist attack were very unlikely, there was that remote possibility and there’s definitely that sense that trouble’s brewing at the moment but we don’t have that crystal ball.

Anyway, off she went and on Friday morning, I caught the train down to Sydney with our son and the rest of the local kids. It was only a four carriage train and it was packed, mostly with kids. As we were about to head over the Hawkesbury River Bridge, the lady next to me turns to me and says: “The guy next to me asked me to mind his bags while he went to the toilet but he hasn’t come back and he’s been awhile. I’ve got to get off. I can’t remember what he looked like. He might have been tanned but what does a terrorist look like anyway?”

Now, let me just put you right into my shoes. Here I am on a train packed with school kids including my son, my friends’ kids, friends of friends kids and the teachers who are like family to me and suddenly I’m in charge of potentially deadly situation. I’ve heard the announcement countless times while waiting on train platforms. If you see unattended luggage, please report it to station staff. This was exactly what they were talking about. At the same time, I looked at the large bag of Christmas presents, all beautifully wrapped in Christmas paper, wondering how they could possibly blow anyone up? How could Christmas presents ever be considered dangerous, even deadly? I noticed the intercom for the guard nearby and gave him 10 minutes to return. I was hoping that he’d been eating plenty of fibre and it wasn’t going to be a legitimate (but very extended) call of nature and I’d just caused pointless stress.

This was a lot to take onboard, especially after my chat with my daughter. I certainly didn’t expect to be thrown in the dead end like this. It was all supposed to be over-active imagination and now I’d somehow become embroiled in a plot, which was way too big for this little black duck.

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Illustrator Sarah Davis

Of course, the fact that I’d been to a three hour writing workshop with Australian Illustrator, Sarah Davies the day before, didn’t do much to appease my imagination. Suddenly, I’d become the reluctant hero but what if I made a mistake? It was a huge responsibility!!

Fortunately, the man returned and calm was restored. I could get back to reading my book. I was in the Quiet Carriage while the kids were in what could only be described as “the loud carriages”.

This was the second false alarm I’ve had recently. You might recall that the day before the Paris attacks, we had four Army Black Hawk helicopters flying just above the rooftops of our quiet beach-side town. They were circling around doing lap after lap after lap and while I wasn’t thinking about terrorists, having a very dangerous criminal on the loose wasn’t desirable either. But…that was also a false alarm.

However, we made it to Sydney rather uneventfully in the end and I was able to meet up with Miss before her grand performance.

 

Miss Spectacular

Miss Spectacular

Our daughter performed with her school choir at School Spectacular, an absolutely huge extravaganza held at the Sydney Entertainment Centre. They were part of a huge mass choir, a sea of white shirts made up of 1500 kids singing 30 songs and doing actions. They did 4 performances over two days and had a pretty intensive rehearsal schedule as well. I am surprised any of them were still upright by the end.

Finale- School Spectacular, Sydney Entertainment Centre.

Finale- School Spectacular, Sydney Entertainment Centre.

As we live in Greater Sydney and about 90 minutes away, Miss ended up staying across the road for almost a week with her friend’s grandmother. They were staying nearby 53 levels above the ground with the most incredible views of Sydney. She was so blessed and having her there made things so much easier for me with juggling transport.

Here I am enjoying the view from where Miss was staying.

Here I am enjoying the view from where Miss was staying.

While Miss was living the high life, I booked Geoff and I into the cheapest accommodation I could find which wasn’t above a pub. It wasn’t too bad but when we checked it out on Google Earth, we did notice some kind of Chinese massage parlor next door and Mum did warn me to make sure Geoff didn’t disappear during the night. The place had a pretty dodgy metal fire escape out the back and while comfortable,could well have been the sort of place a fugitive would hide out. Needless to say, there were no views from our hotel room. Indeed, I’m not even sure there was a window.

Hotel Carpark.

Hotel Carpark.

Saturday morning, we headed off to Glebe for breakfast. We had intended to have breakfast at Glebe Markets, where I used to hang out several lifetimes ago but we couldn’t find parking and after weaving out way through a series of dead end and one way streets, we found ourselves sitting at the first cafe we could find on St Johns Road and refueled with coffees, an almond croissant and omelette.

Rebel Red Shoes.

Rebel Red Shoes.

I should also point out that I was wearing really dodgy shoes and could barely walk. After breaking my foot last December, I’ve virtually spent the year in joggers but as we were going to my cousin’s wedding, I just couldn’t resist wearing my fave red shoes. They have wedge heels and being flat on the bottom, I can sort of walk in them but it’s definitely a case of “Ricketty Ro” and much of the time, I have to hold onto Geoff’s arm for dear life.

While I have nothing approaching a shoe fetish and wear sensible shoes almost all the time, sometimes I just want to step out there and feel a bit pretty, elegant, frivolous and NOT a matron or person living with  disability. Be myself. If you haven’t worked out the obvious by now. I am not a sensible person so why should I wear sensible shoes?

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Driving Across the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

 

Moving right along, we’re having our next coffee in Kurri Kurri in the Hunter Valley. Kurri Kurri is a coal-mining town on the gateway into the Hunter Valley, one of Australia’s most famous wine-producing regions. Like many regional towns looking to put themselves on the tourist map, the town has rebadged itself as “The Town of Murals”. Fifty murals, each with a hidden kookaburra, have been painted around town: http://www.kurrikurri.com/kurri-kurri-murals-project/

More Coffee...Kurri Kurri Tourist Information Centre.

More Coffee…Kurri Kurri Tourist Information Centre.

After over compensating for Sydney traffic congestion, we arrived at Kurri Kurri 2 hours before the wedding. Needing another caffeine hit (make that a strong one, please!) we stopped off at the Visitor’s Information Centre for great coffee and Caramel Slice before driving our town checking out the murals.

Red Bus Mural, Kurri Kurri.

Red Bus Mural, Kurri Kurri.

Next stop, was my cousin’s wedding. This was so exciting that my trigger-happy camera finger went into overdrive and I’m surprised I haven’t developed some form of RSI. The wedding and reception were beautifully intimate and included personal wishes from the groom’s grandparents, which just added a certain magic.

We drove home last night and had my uncle to stay. Made him pancakes for breakfast and must’ve totally exhausted myself as I didn’t photograph his visit at all.

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Drove down to Sydney to pick up the kids and head off to the Muscular Dystrophy NSW Annual Christmas Party, which is so generously put on by the staff at the Commonwealth Bank in Parramatta. This is a real extravaganza and the kids loved playing on the slot car rack and enjoyed the arrival of Santa and their presents. I was particularly thrilled to meet up with other members…friends I’ve made at an Adventure Camp I’ve attended. This is my community.

Mister with Santa

Mister with Santa

Right now, I’m ready to hang up my red shoes. “There’s no place like home” and a deep sleep!

I hope you’ve enjoyed our coffee and I look forward to topping up the caffeine levels when I pop over your way.

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share. Here’s the linky: http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=585846

Love & Best wishes,

Rowena

PS Bilbo and Lady have made an an appearance at the Weekly Pet Share November Round-up. It’s a great post! https://hopethehappyhugger.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/weekly-pet-share-november-round-up/

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I Want to Swing from the Chandelier!

While I’ve never seen myself as a music industry guru or supporter, today I’m going to don my Stetson hat and walk in Molly Meldrum’s shoes for a bit and introduce you to some new Australian talent.

Ian “Molly” Meldrum

Molly Meldrum is the Australian music industry legend who used to host Countdown. Molly introduced millions of teenagers to the likes of ABBA and Madonna and I’m not sure who else because I wasn’t really into listening to music growing up and only ever had a couple of records and tapes, which wouldn’t even amount to a handful.

countdown

Although Molly was loved and respected for hosting countdown, there was always that big question mark about what was underneath his hat. He never took it off, the same way KISS never appeared without their trademark face paint. Although we all assumed that he was as bald as a badger, the fact that he never appeared without his hat, just fueled the intrigued and added to the legend.

Just like Molly had his trademark hat, Molly also had his “Mollyisms”.

If Molly really liked a performer, he’d tell you to “do yourself a favour” and go and buy their album…as it was back in the day.

Well, I’m now going to suggest you do yourself a favour and go and check out some of the young, up and coming performers in your local area, instead of waiting for them to suddenly burst onto the music scene once they’re finally famous. “It’s a long way to the top, when you want to rock n’ roll” and even longer if you’re into the classics.All these young people need avid fans to pave the way for future success.

That means the likes of us.

Moreover, you’ll also be doing yourself a huge favour. Instead of having to pay through the nose for tickets and fight your way into the big entertainment venues, you’ll be up front and personal and even breathe in the same air. I sometimes hope this will somehow inflate me with talent but it hasn’t happened yet!!

We actually had front row seats and could almost reach out and touch the stage. That was a real treat!.

Last week, we attended a local music event, Showcase, which was held at Gosford’s Laycock Street Theatre. Showcase features the best talent from our local Public High Schools and Primary schools and our daughter was performing with the school choir for the second time.

While you might think that Showcase is some mums and dads concert which truly has to be endured, it was actually a spectacular production and a number of the acts deeply moved me for a variety of reasons. They were not only incredibly good but the performers somehow grabbed your emotions, twisted your heart and miraculously conveyed a part of you that you knew was there but you could never quite find the words to express. For some reason, the door, the pathway was always blocked, jammed. Wouldn’t open.

I know this sounds odd for such an expressive writer, poet, photographer but these are the perhaps those really scary, grab you by the throat in the dark emotions and most of the time, we’re too busy trying to swing from the chandelier to acknowledge they exist. We want to shut them down and yet when they finally come out there’s such relief!

There were two performances which really gripped me.

Firstly, there was Lilia Jackson who performed Sia’s Chandelier.

I have listened to Sia’s Chandelier countless times on the radio and yes, it has resonated with me before but nothing like hearing it performed by Lilia, who sang like an angel while accompanying herself on the grand piano.She was incredible!

Here’s a link to Lilia’s performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsAuchqUDc8

There is was sitting on my seat getting swept away by her angelic voice and the crystal tones of the piano when all of a sudden, I found myself moved to a place of incredible angst where I was back in Royal North Shore Hospital at the time of my medical diagnosis and the pain seared through my heart like a knife. It was the middle of the night and I was so alone caught in the intense darkness without a glimmer of light. I was so angry about my diagnosis and that I could die and leave my children without their Mum that I wanted to die. The pain was so incredibly intense. A pain I usually can’t even come close to touching, writing about, nothing. The best I can do is somehow twist those emotions around with a dark sort of humour. Anyway, I’ve moved on. I am swinging from the chandeliers almost each and everyday now because I know that abyss and I’m not going back.

I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier
I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist
Like it doesn’t exist
I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry
I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier

But I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down won’t open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, ’cause I’m just holding on for tonight
Help me, I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down won’t open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, ’cause I’m just holding on for tonight
On for tonight

Another performance which really gripped me, was Erica-Lee’s rendition of Crazy. Being different is something I understand too well…sometimes from a sense of rejection but also from a point of pride. After all, who wants to be a clone, a carbon-copy of some misplaced ideal? I know that anyone who photographs bride dolls in a cemetery has to be a bit crazy but that’s also how creativity takes flight. So, you know I don’t even need to ask that question. I’d much rather be creative than normal and I’m grateful that after spending years working through this, that I can finally accept myself as I am.

While these two song choices really resonated with me, I was also delighted to hear Joseph Arrua: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3vUo5uSOjs As I listened to Joseph perform, I wondered where that big, deep voice came from. It was incredible. I’ve been friends with Joseph’s Mum for many years but only heard him perform a few years ago and it’s a special thing to see a young person’s talent start taking flight!

My daughter singing with the school choir.

My daughter singing with the school choir.

Of course, I was as proud as punch to see my daughter performing in the school choir. She has been battling vocal nodules and having voice therapy yet she loves singing. Her perseverance is a real credit to her…and to me. I’m having to drive her to her appointments and put up with the moods. Understandibly, she’s not a happy camper.

Sydney Town Hall…Family Concerts to Remember

Sunday night before last, our 8 year old daughter “Miss” sang in a multi-school choir at the Sydney Town Hall. Celebration Sing Out was a concert supporting the Music Therapy Unit at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney.

Celebration Sing Out, Sydney Town Hall.

Celebration Sing Out, Sydney Town Hall.

As much as we might have believed in the cause, let’s be honest. All the parents, grandparents and the rest of the royal entourage were there with only one thing in mind…to see their little darling up on stage at the Sydney Town Hall. Our brilliant, shining little stars had us all transfixed in their orbit. It might not have been the Opera House but singing at the Sydney Town Hall is still a big deal and a very imposing, impressive venue with the huge pipe organ towering overhead. When the organ was completed in 1890, it was the biggest pipe organ in the world. That’s not bad for a former convict town.

How have to admit this gig was pretty impressive and the children sang like angels as well!

How have to admit this gig was pretty impressive and the children sang like angels as well!

While our little darlings might have been just one of hundreds all not-quite perfectly cloned in plain white shirts and black pants, we didn’t care. We zoomed in and picked out little star out of the multitude and stared at them transfixed with love and pride.

Christmas came early...the kids checking out the Christmas lights in Sydney's Queen Victoria Building on the way to dinner.

Christmas came early…the kids checking out the Christmas lights in Sydney’s Queen Victoria Building on the way to dinner.

A key component of this parental pride was getting a good seat so we could not only spot our darling among the multitude but also to get a good vantage point to take photos. Unlike many public events where you are not allowed to use cameras let alone photograph or film children, this event was a paparazzi free-for-all.

While the kids and I went to check out the David Jones Christmas Windows and have dinner in Hyde Park, Geoff sat in the queue to get our seats. He had left for work at 4.30am and was happy to mind the seats. You get my drift.

Before the concert began, I was down the front and after scanning the crowd several times, eventually I spotted Miss in the jungle. Many of the kids were waving out to the crowd and getting rather excited. However, Miss didn’t respond to me at all. I was pretty hard to miss. What started out as something like a dignified, royal wave became more frenetic as she absolutely failed to respond. She didn’t smile or even blink in my direction. Not one to be ignored, I’m waving both arms by now and doing everything but screaming “cooee” above the hubbub. I decided I wasn’t going anywhere until she responded. She might have been up towards the back but I was standing right in front of her waving my arms, taking photos with the standout Nikon SLR camera (something with a real lens not one of these Mickey Mouse phone cameras). I mean… I really stood out. It was almost like I was standing there with two heads and still she refused to acknowledge my existence. Eventually, finally, at a point no doubt verging on terminal embarrassment, she waved back. Relief! She later told me that she’s not supposed to wave. You see, at 8 years of age, she’s already the consummate stage professional!

Naturally, I wasn’t the only paparazzi in sight. As I scanned around the audience, there was an array of camera phones sticking up above the audience like the sort of TV antennas you see in regional towns desperately trying to pick up the city stations.

The singing was absolutely beautiful and a real tribute to everyone involved. The children sang beautifully in unison and sat still for considerable periods on stage during other performances. The concert began at 7.00PM concluding at 9.30 which is well past many of their bedtimes and yet they were the consummate performers…real little professionals.

While this performance was mostly about our daughter, there was also a ghost in the room…my grandmother.

Hard to believe my grandmother was ever a 15 year old schoolgirl. She, on the other hand, didn't recognise the old lady staring back at her in the mirror. I now understand what she meant!

Hard to believe my grandmother was ever a 15 year old schoolgirl. She, on the other hand, didn’t recognise the old lady staring back at her in the mirror. I now understand what she meant!

A review of my grandmother's Concert at the Sydney Town Hall SMH April 10 1935

My grandmother’s Performance at the Sydney Town Hall 6th April, 1935 SMH April 10 1935

My grandmother, Eunice Gardiner, was an internationally successful concert pianist, music critic and piano teacher at the Sydney Conservatorium. Eunice was taking up a 2 year scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music in London. A fundraising committee had been formed to raise funds towards her living expenses in London. As part of these fundraising efforts, Eunice gave a concert at the Sydney Town Hall on the 6th June, 1935.

This is a story I grew up with and I remember my grandmother showing me her precious newspaper clippings in her seemingly ancient scrapbook. This wasn’t something we looked at often…only once or twice in my life time and indeed while working on her memoirs, she even let me take it home for awhile to scan. Talk about precious cargo. This was back in the days before the old newspapers had been uploaded onto the Internet and you couldn’t just summon up someone’s entire life history with an instant and exceptionally gratifying Google search. Of course, you could look at the old newspapers on reels at the State Library but you needed to do your research first. It was a tedious, laborious process. So these press clippings and particularly her scrap book, were incredibly precious!!

Anyway, as we arrived at Town Hall, I was no longer viewing my grandmother’s concert as an ancient black & white newspaper clipping but as a living, breathing experience. I was walking up Town Hall Steps with her parents and brother, Les. I could feel their pride bursting through my heart and saw it reflected back to me as our daughter sang up on stage, enjoying the whole experience. This was not necessarily going to be a given. Singing in front of 1000 can be daunting if not terrifying but it seems that being part of a crowd can be a good thing.

Once upon a time, when I was a little girl, I’d had my own piano performance. However, it was hardly at the Sydney Town Hall but in a hall hired by my piano teacher in Wahroonga, a Sydney suburb quite a long way from the Sydney Town Hall both in terms of kilometres and kudos. While it was a big thing for me to be performing at the concert and I had practiced pretty hard and knew my piece from memory, the fact that my grandmother was attending the concert was a big deal. I distinctly remember getting in the car and Mum asking me if I had my music. I told her that I didn’t need it…that I knew my piece from memory. I was a confident little kid and not easily intimidated. I didn’t need my music and I was going to do it my way despite my mother’s concerns.

Well, of course, I got up on stage my legs dangling from the piano seat and of course I lost my place. I remember this terrible sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Mum had seen it coming and I’d botched it. Plus, my grandmother was watching. I’d been to see her perform at the Sydney Opera House wearing my very best dress which she’d brought back from me from Norfolk Island and where I couldn’t cough, sneeze, go to the toilet and if you sat very, very still, you were actually permitted to breathe. My grandmother wasn’t one of those grannies who give you Freddo Frogs (https://www.cadbury.com.au/Products/Pre-teens-Confectionery/Freddo.aspx) either . She was in some sort of inter-stellar zone us mortals could only watch from the outside. I can almost feel myself stop breathing yet I persevere and tinkered with the keys until I found my place and kept going…my pride wounded but undefeated. I am so proud of that little girl who didn’t just burst into tears and exit stage left..It might not have been a perfect performance but I persevered and I conquered.

You can read my grandmother’s obituary here: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/obituaries/a-musical-career-honed-in-the-laundry-20090823-ev2w.html

Actually, perhaps the last word on that concert should go to my grandmother. When she reflected on this concert in later life, she mentioned nothing about the epic stumble during my performance. Rather, she tell me that she’d got in trouble with my Dad for disciplining my brother during the concert. That’s right. She’d got in trouble. You know I’m smiling!

Meanwhile, as the end of the year approaches, our daughter’s ballet and jazz concerts lie ahead and I’m practicing for my violin concert. Well, like our daughter I’m part of a group and there will be no solo performance. This is certainly one time I don’t want to stand out and for once in my life, just be one of the crowd.

And I’ll be taking my music!

xx Rowena

PS This is a Freddo Frog:

Introducing Australia's very own Freddo Frog.

Introducing Australia’s very own Freddo Frog.