Tag Archives: concert

Weekend Coffee Share – 22nd May, 2022.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

It’s Sunday night here, and I thought you might like to join me watching Masterchef. Thank goodness, I’ve already had dinner or I’d be salivating like a blood hound all over the keyboard and the dog blissfully sleeping underneath. Tonight, they’re fusing two cultures together, and I just saw the most divine lobster dish along with an incredible dessert which personified was pure indulgence. Sorry, I can’t remember what was in it, but since none of us can actually sample these dishes perhaps that’s possibly a good thing. Despite the judges’ rapturous praise, we’ll just convince ourselves it all tastes like cardboard or some equally bland substance.

How was your week?

The big news here in Australia is that we voted in our Federal Election yesterday and we have a change of government. Prime Minister Mr Scott Morrison from the Liberal Party has been replaced by Mr Anthony Albanese of the Labor Party. It’s still early days but the analysts are busy. I must admit I feel sorry for people who have lost their seats, regardless of their political persuasion.

Last week for me, revolved around our daughter’s dance performance in a series of concerts featuring young talent aged 13-21 on the NSW Central Coast. It’s not easy to land yourself a spot and Miss had 2-3 previous attempts. So, this was a huge celebration. There’s also relief because she wants to be a professional ballerina, and getting through this year was a sign she’s on the right track. She was doing her contemporary dance, which involved picking up a rose with her feet and transferring it around which doing all her “tricks”. I’m not usually anxious watching her, and you’d think I might’ve been sitting there proud as a peacock especially wearing my fancy new scarf. Instead, I kept worrying she was going to drop the rose, or else would go wrong. We’d had a stressful afternoon chasing up a few requirements last minute and catching every red light in town when time was of the essence. I could mention something about Murphy’s Law, except that her performance went so well, that I’m just grateful.

Miss in Flight

Meanwhile, I’ve been reading a great new book, which I guess could well be deemed a diversion as I’m already reading a few books and need to get back to my WWI research and analysis. However, I popped into my local bookshop looking for a book of short stories by Tony Birch: Dark As Last Night. I needed to order that one in, but as one who has no capacity to resist temptation in bookshops, I had the most fleeting glance at the shelves and came home with Kerri Maher’s: The Paris Bookseller. It’s “inspired” by the story of Sylvia Beach who found the iconic English-speaking bookstore: Shakespeare and Company. It just so happens that I did a solo poetry reading there in 1992 as an impressionable 23 year old. So, the book is incredibly personal for me. However, so far the plot focuses around James Joyce and the banning of Ulysses, which feels quite relevant these days with what’s been going on in many political circles. I also finished Irish philosopher, Michael Harding’s: A Cloud Where The Birds Rise. It’s made up of excerpts from his reflection on life published via his weekly column in the Irish Times.

My Poetry Reading Shakespeare & Company Bookshop, Paris 1992.

In other news here, we’re trying to have some kind of radical clean-up. I don’t really like the term “declutter”, which is just so dismissive and disrespectful about your precious treasures. An excess of books, for example, is not clutter. It’s inspiration, education, transformation all within those printed pages, and in too many cases, too difficult to part with. However, at least I’m getting through a few books atm, but I don’t think I’ll be able to part with any of these They’re all keepers! Yet, I at least had some success in the bathroom and cleared out a garbage bag of potions and Miss has thrown out four bags of stuff from her room. All of that barely scratches the surface, but it’s progress.

Feet and Shadows at the Beach last week.

Lastly, Miss and I went for a few brief visits to the beach to destress last week. Couldn’t resist photographing our feet in front of the view.

We also spotted some inspirational words painted onto rocks at the far end of the beach:

Well, that’s all folks.

This is another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Natalie the Explorer at: https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Best wishes,

Rowena

Driving The Tutu Taxi.

Frankly, parenting can take you down some wild and random roads, and I never quite know where I’m going to end up. Or, what death-defying challenge I’m going to be facing next. How I’m going to be stretched right out of my comfort zone. Stretched, and stretched and stretched until breaking point feels like blessed relief.

Geoff and I waiting for the concert to start.

Just as a bit of background, I’ll share that when our son was in kindergarten aged five, a friend and I cottoned on that what you really want as a parent, is an average kid. After all, academically the school system caters best for a child of average intelligence, and you don’t need to be Einstein to realize that if your progeny has any kind of talent, you’ll not only be driving from here to Timbuctoo, you’ll also need a second or third job to pay for it.

However, at the same time both my friend and I couldn’t resist booking our kids into enriching after-school activities, and we paid the price. Her son went on to excel in soccer, and she ended up driving out to the farthest reaches of the state, and almost into the outback. Meanwhile, we’ve driven to the ends of the earth for dance, sailing, and scouts. I have to be honest and say that in some ways being locked down for a few years gave us blessed relief. We could actually stay home. Yet, at the same time, we missed watching them, being part of these communities ourselves, and seeing our friends there as well. It hasn’t all been a one way street.

Anyway, this brings me to the actual good news, and that was that our daughter was accepted into the Youth in the Performing Arts Concerts (YIPA) held locally. It’s held annually for young people aged 13 to 21 years. Being selected was a significant achievement, and an indication that she’s climbed a few extra rungs up the ladder. Wow! Where the ladder is heading at this stage, we don’t know. However, progress is progress.

Photograph: Emily Stoddart.

However, the downside of these performances is all the work which goes on behind the scenes. Today, I spent the afternoon dashing around like a maniac chasing last minute paraphernalia she required, but we actually got her there, on time, in one piece, and she performed to perfection. We were so proud of her, but I’ve got to be honest and say I was just relieved it went without a hitch, especially given how she incorporates the rose into her incredible tricks. It always goes without a hitch. However, since I can barely walk with a mug of tea without spilling it, my own anxiety an run wild. Indeed, I spent most of this performance fixated on that rose and praying nothing would go wrong. Dance, is after all, a nerve-wracking business.

Yes! It all went brilliantly!

Notice the rose in her feet – photo Emily Stoddart.

Anyway, last night’s performance was breath-taking. We very proud of her…and relieved. I am now looking forward to watching her performance again on the video in the comfort of our lounge. Phew! Pure joy!

Does this trigger any memories for you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS Here’s a flash back to her first YIPA audition 2019. Aged 13.

A Twist of Fate -Friday Fictioneers 13th January, 2021.

The curtain raised. We all stood to attention and managed a macabre applause. The band had been blown up in the NYE Paris terrorist attack. In a freaky twist of fate, they’d just ducked outside to have a cigarette, and were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Meanwhile, their instruments which remained exactly where they were, had survived unscathed. I’ve heard that bass player, Sebastian Gordon, intended to quit that night, and that was going to be his last cigarette. Tragically, it was, although it wasn’t how he’d planned to quit for good. It wasn’t how they’d planned to stick together either. Either they’d been born under an unlucky star, or It was a twist of fate.

….

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields at https://rochellewisoff.com/. This week’s photo prompt was kindly contributed by Dale Richardson.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Inside Outside – Friday Fictioneers.

Dimity was next up, but she just wanted to run.

“Idiot! You absolute idiot! How could you let him talk you into singing THAT song? Raw, red-raw, it was only meant for the shower.”

Delving into the agonizing depths of self-loathing, she’d turned herself so completely inside out, her heart was beating outside her body, and the neurones were spewing out of her head like the guts of a computer.

“It’ll help someone. Save a life,” he said.

Now, she was wondering why she had to sell her soul to save the world? Why couldn’t she just plant a tree?

…..

100 words exactly.

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields. Photo prompt © CEAyr.

As a closet musician, I related to this photo prompt of the stage. While naturally rather extroverted, I usually have no qualms about getting up on stage and doing that most dreaded of tasks….public speaking.

However, playing my violin has been a mixed bag and early on, I put myself through the intense stress and madness of doing my Preliminary exam. This is the most basic exam you can undertake, and yet it was much harder than I expected, although I was determined to get an A, not a C-. I remember stressing out so badly on the train on the way to the exam, and being rather hard on myself. Then, I realized I was doing this to myself. No one else had made me do. It’s not like I was a kid and I could blame my mother. Moreover, just to give you a bit of a laugh, you can picture me practicing in the bus shelter out in front of the exam venue trying to warm up my ricketty fingers. The stress was through the roof, but I’ll have you know, I did it. I got my A, and I haven’t done an exam since.

Best wishes,

Rowena.

 

 

The Closet Violinist Breaks Out.

Tonight, the closet violinist swung from the chandelier onto centre stage, dazzling the audience with a half-decent rendition of Chopin’s: “How Deep Is the Night” (Tristesse). However, if I’m honest, my entry onto the stage was much more reticent. Of course, I didn’t want to trip over which was quite a possibility with all the leads, drum kits etc to fall over. However, my violin teacher helped me out and my grand entry went smoothly. Now, I just needed to play…

In the days leading up to the concert, I second guessed myself something chronic.WHAT WAS I THINKING?!!! “You’re hopeless. It’s not ready. Don’t do it!!!” Of course, I’d done nowhere near enough practice. It was only in the last days before the concert, I actually got moving squeezing in all those critical hours of practice, which make such a difference yet almost came too late. However, despite the anxiety, I actually love performing and would love to get out there more often. It’s another one of those eternal, internal conundrums.

Rowena on stage

I could almost look like a rock violinist under these lights.

It was only a small soiree with fellow students and their families. Hardly playing at the big end of year concert, or heaven forbid, at the Sydney Opera House. However, no one likes making mistakes and there’s always that possibility of humiliating disaster. Yours truly has even broken her foot just before going on stage, but in true violinist fashion, it was on with the show. However, nobody in our household says “break a leg” before any of my performances now.

“How Deep Is the Night” is a particularly melancholy piece of music and the words are grab you by throat kind of dark…

SO DEEP IS THE NIGHT 

So deep is the night,

No moon tonight,

No friendly star to guide me with its light.

Be still my heart,

Silent lest my love could be returning,

From a world far apart.

So deep is the night,

Oh lonely night,

On broken wings my heart has taken flight,

And left a dream.

In my dream our lips are blending;

Will my dream be never ending?

Will your memory haunt me till I die?

Alone am I,

Deep into the night,

Waiting for the light.

Alone am I,

I wonder why,

I wonder why.

In my dream our lips are blending;

Will my dream be never ending?

Will your memory haunt me till I die?

Alone am I,

Deep into the night,

Waiting for the light.

Alone am I,

I wonder why,

I wonder why.

Frederik Chopin (m) 1832 Sonny Miller (l) as recorded by Richard Tauber March 29th 1940

However, who hasn’t experienced that all-consuming heartbreak and that sense of the surrounding darkness penetrating your soul? That’s one thing I don’t miss about my youth!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t share the words with the audience so I gave a brief introduction and parked a teddy bear in front. You can’t see it clearly in the photos. However, he has a red stone on his lap with “I love you” etched into it.

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I’d proud of myself for persevering with the violin, which has been very challenging at times. However, persistence and regular practice pays off. I’m making solid strides forward. It’s fantastic.

Rowena & Danni

Photographed here with my very encouraging and patient teacher, Danielle. We played as a duet. 

Do you play an instrument? Do you perform at all? Do you like it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Stage Entry – Thursday Doors.

Welcome to Another Thursday Doors.

Sorry I’ve been rather intermittent lately. Life has been uber hectic what with school holidays and performances and I’m longing to put my feet up and relax.

Rowena & Amelia Coastquest

In so many ways, this week’s door is very ordinary. However, for the performers at Coast Quest, our regional dance eisteddfod, it was the point of no return where they embarked on the exhilarating thrill, or abject terror, of being on stage. For many of the dancers, it was probably a mixture of both.

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Of course, this eisteddfod could have been anywhere. Held in any school or local hall where the stage has that worn out look of a bygone era and there’s no signs of the bells and whistles which come with performing at the likes of the Sydney Opera House.

Yet, these local competitions and performances have their place bringing the best local talent together and extending the dancers’ experience beyond the four walls of their studios. While they might not be the big time, they celebrate a moment in time or might even be a stepping stone. Moreover, for the doting audience, it means the world to see our dancers up there on stage. Indeed, we had a good group of supporters from the studio in the audience and there were cheers and applause as our dancers took to the stage. It was fantastic!

Of course, whenever my daughter competes, I naturally believe she’s the best. I’m absolutely dazzled by her performances. During her new lyrical solo, I even had goosebumps. That’s what it is to be Mum and it’s not my place to be critic. I’m simply her adoring fan. She did very well and naturally we’re very proud. However, quite aside from the results, it was the experience which mattered and it was also very helpful to receive the judges feedback. No doubt, this matches what her teachers have been saying. However, having those thoughts written down in a report by a judge also adds weight.

Tomorrow night, we’ll be off to see our son perform in the Scout & Guides Central Coast Gang Show. So, I’ll be returning with a different stage door next week.

Thursday Doors is hosted by Norm 2.0

What, if any, experiences do you have of stage door? I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Back to “The Con”…the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

As you may recall, a few weeks ago I went back to Sydney University for the first time in decades. Well, last Wednesday night, I  found myself back at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music doing the time warp again. This time, I was attending concert pianist, Gerard Willems’ Twilight Recital, which marked his retirement from full-time teaching at the Con.

While it only seems like yesterday, I haven’t been back to the Con since my grandmother’s Twilight Recital around 30 years ago. At the time, I was in the throws of leaving school, but now I’m married with two kids and our eldest isn’t terribly far off leaving school himself. So, clearly a lot of water’s flowed under the bridge, and even much of the landscape has been swept away by the tide. Yet, I still felt remarkably at home.

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Gerard Willems and his former teacher, Nada Brissenden.

By the way, I wasn’t just attending this concert out of interest. Gerard is almost an extended member of the family via one of my mother’s “secret societies”. Mum and Gerard both attended Wollongong Selective High School and learned the piano from  Nada Brissenden who, along with her husband Harold, introduced Suzuki Music to Australia. Mum was a year ahead of Gerard, and their paths have crossed over the years, which included studying piano at the Con. There was also a rather significant-to-me soiree which my grandmother Eunice Gardiner put on to give Gerard further performance experience. Not that Gerard was one of her pupils. Rather, he was studying under Gordon Watson. This soiree was also interesting because Australian authors Ruth Park and her husband D’Arcy Niland were there. Knowing Mum knew Gerard and possibly also because she had some single sons, my grandmother also invited my mother to the soiree. So, it was actually Gerard who first introduced my parents at Lindfield Station for the very first time on Sunday 26th March, 1967. That’s a connection you never forget and was brought up again recently at my parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary.  There’s still is a group of Mrs Brissenden’s former students who get together, forming an extended musical family of sorts. After all, you have your genetic family but as a musician you also have your musical family.

However, I also had an ulterior motive for going back to the Con. I wanted to revisit my grandmother’s old studio. See if I could find my way through the old rabbit warren and back to her door. I remember going in there as a young child after visiting my grandfather who had a dental practice in nearby Macquarie Street. The Con itself was stark white back then and I remember some weird story about how they cleaned it using Coca Cola. I remember going up some stairs and along a longish corridoor and there was a grand piano in the room. Dad told me that it overlooked the Botanical Gardens. So, that narrowed things down quite a lot. So, I planned to arrive quite early for the concert to ensure no regrets.

Conservatorium Sign

A Sign Promoting one of my grandmother’s concerts at the Con around 1960.

By the way, the Conservatorium building is famous in its own right. In 1815, Governor Lachlan Macquarie commissioned ex-convict Francis Greenway to design the government stables. Macquarie had a grand architectural vision for the fledgling colony and what emerged was more of a “Palace for Horses”  in the Old Colonial Gothick style. Indeed, it reminds me of  Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria’s architectural extravagance. The cost and apparent extravagance was one of the reasons Governor Macquarie was recalled to England. In 1916, the building was extensively renovated and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music was established under directorship of Belgian conductor and violinist, Henri Verbrugghen, with the aim of ‘providing tuition of a standard at least equal to that of the leading European Conservatoriums’.

As I said, it’s been 30 years since I was last at the Con. For better or worse, a massive extension has been built and the original building has had an extensive facelift. Of course, it’s been tastefully done and if I didn’t have an intense personal attachment to the original, I’d only be impressed.

However, as much as I know we couldn’t let the old girl fall apart and that the building itself is representing Australian classical music on the world stage, a facelift is still a facelift. I miss the white paint. The cracks, wrinkles and crooked appearance. Indeed, I’d love to wipe all the beige away and bring her back out of her glamorous shell…even if only long enough to take a photo and then send her back to sleep.

The ticket office is in the new part of the Con and I noticed a sign saying “No Public Admittance” where I’m needing to access my grandmother’s studio. However, as soon as I explained the situation, I was granted access and off I hopped with my camera. I was so excited, even though I was warned that it had changed and the “rabbit’s warren was gone”. Dad had also told me that her studio looked out onto the Botanic Gardens, which narrowed things down quite a lot. I climbed up the stairs and slowly walked along the corridoor. I could hear piano music on my right and saw a grand piano through the window. Her room was further along from memory but very soon I was distracted by the sound of a violin tuning up downstairs. I found it rather strange than when I, the closet violinist come back retracing my grandmother’s footsteps, a violinist was playing. (As it turned out this was  Evgeny Sorkin who played Beethoven’s Sonata for Piano and Violin in D Major Op. 12 No. 1. with Gerard during the concert.

Yet, the main reason I was at the Con was to attend this concert. So, we’d better head upstairs into the gallery where I had an absolutely fabulous seat with a bird’s eye view. Verbruggen Hall seats around 550 people and as far as I could tell, everyone there loved Gerard, not just as a pianist but as a person. He exudes such warmth and embraces the audience. Gerard introduced each piece himself, usually with an extensive preamble and I was hanging onto each and every word. Indeed, I was voraciously taking notes up in my seat. Among so many other things, Gerard is a teacher and I felt like this concert was also his last hurrah in that department as well trying to share as much of his knowledge and somehow try to encourage the spirit of music which lives in each of us to soar.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. However, here are a few snapshots.

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Gerard Willems.

Firstly, I was struck by how Gerard would play that solitary, perfect note in a way that transcended our earthly realm and entered the heavens. Indeed, I was reminded of when you look up into the night sky and see the planet Venus twinkling almost like a star yet in its solitude. One of my great frustrations as a beginner violinist, was the difficulty of even being able to play one perfect note. I kept practicing and practicing and I’d play two strings instead of one. My bow would glide diagonally across the strings and screech like a flock of cockatoos. It was so incredibly frustrating and yet I was determined to succeed. Gerard made me appreciate the enormity of playing that one perfect note. That it’s nowhere near as easy as you think.

Secondly, I was completely blown away by his unbelievable physicality playing Chopin’s Scherzo No. 1 in B minor Op. 20. Remember the man is retiring and this piece of music, is very physically demanding. Incredible.

However, while the other pieces were far more complex, I couldn’t go past Moonlight Sonata, which was followed by the Brahm’s Lullaby. He played these because these are the pieces he played for his baby daughter, Clara, and grandchildren. Indeed, as he played the Brahms, his wife appeared on stage hold Clara’s hands and helping her to walk across the stage to her Dad. She is only one year old and beyond cute. I noticed when I later looked at the photos that she was wearing a black jacket which looked a bit like a conductor’s jacket. As I said, she was extraordinarily cute and it was so touching to see how much Gerard loves his wife and baby girl. That was another time when you could feel all the stars twinkling in the sky and a sense of magic.

After the concert, I stayed the night at my parents’ place and had been so overstimulated by the concert, that I couldn’t sleep for hours. All my matches had been lit at once and I was firing on too many cylinders I suspect.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney_Conservatorium_of_Music

 

 

 

 

A Legend in My Own Hair Follicles.

Before the magic of the Royal Wedding and seeing Harry and Meaghan tie the knot in spectacular fashion, I hung up my pink washing up gloves and metamorphosed into a star. I, the greatest unknown violinist, legend in her own hair follicles, performed Minuet by Beethoven with my violin teacher at Gig Night. That’s the modern equivalent of what was known as a “Soiree” back in the day. Indeed, it might have been more like my grandparents’ day, but there we were performing in the studio with real performance lights and sound equipment and our very own stage. It was personal, intimate and my husband and kids were all lined up in a row in the audience…my support crew.

Well, behind every star performer, there’s also their teacher. When it comes to my teacher, however, she had special duties. She was not only accompanying me in our duet in the kind of way that compensates for what I’ll call my “idiosyncrasies”, she had to help me on and off stage. Indeed, we made a decision that I would enter from backstage to prevent me from having a spectacular trip and fall getting up on the stage. I’m pretty good at reconnaissance these days, and I needed to hold onto the wall climbing up the step and was rather concerned that I could fall into the amp. The good thing is that the team at the music school is well versed in my idiosyncrasies and were only too willing to help. Moreover, I’m also one to speak up.

I should also point out that the staff at the music school have experienced these idiosyncracies before. A few years ago when we were performing at the school Christmas Carols, I stepped on the edge of the where the asphalt meets the grass and my ankle flipped over (not uncommon) and then I heard this crunch and fell. The pain was excruciating. Blood was dripping down my knee, but did I pike out? Does a violinist ever give up, even when the ship is sinking? Of course not. I played on and was helped on and off the stage that night too.

My performance tonight wasn’t perfect. I knew it wasn’t going to be. Yet, I was hopeful. Moreover, despite my nerves, I really love performing and being a part of a performance. I like getting out of my cramped quarters in our corridor of a dining room where I usually have to hold my breath as husband, kids, dogs, tennis balls squeeze or fly past and put my feet on that stage, dress up in my blacks and even put on come makeup and lipstick and be a violinist on the outside too. A musician. Knowing I belong here. That this stage is mine, even if it’s only for a few minutes. I own this space (something I picked up from dancing btw).

It’s a space I usually have to grow into, because it’s all too easy to put my playing down. I’m not in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. So, how could I ever consider myself a violinist? I haven’t even tried to learn vibrato, because I really don’t believe in myself. Don’t believe it’s possible. Of course, as I said, I have a decent list of “idiosyncracies”, which let me off the hook. Moreover, be honest, it hasn’t felt that important. It’s been more important to simply be able to play without making mistakes. However, it’s something I come back to once in a while, and learning vibrato is a natural progression for a violinist. Just like my daughter will soon be getting her first pair of pointe shoes for ballet, I should be equally enthusiastic and bursting out of my skin to learn vibrato. Take the next step. I should be wanting to grow, even though it usually means a phase of going backwards as we tackle the new skill.

Anyway, the reason I’m writing about all of this is twofold.

Firstly, I wanted to share my violin world with you. I don’t write about it all that often, but I actually have a lesson each week. I am quite a fan of Suzuki method, although I use the music and don’t play by ear. For those who know Suzuki, I recently moved onto Book Three. I was so proud. It’s been a long journey. I have hydrocephalus and dermatomyositis.  So, I never thought I’d be able to play the violin at all and only took it up again when my daughter insisted on learning, and she needed some assistance. I sat in on her lessons and while she has a rather on and off again relationship with her violin, I’ve stuck with it. She’d probably get to my level after a few weeks’ steady practice, but I’d only be delighted to see her overtake me. Well, she already has. She performed at the Sydney Opera House with her school two years ago at the tender age of 10. Clearly, you’re much better off trying to play at the Opera House as a young beginner than a geriatric.

The other reason I wanted to share my violin journey with you, is to encourage you to consider taking up that instrument you’ve always wanted to play. To go back to the piano you played at a kid, which could well be used for displaying family photos and ornaments than it’s intended purpose. Have a go.

I never considered myself a real music lover or expert of any sort. However, I can sense this is changing. That something new is awakening within. Actually, it’s not something new. It’s like when you’re doing a big clean-up and you find something you haven’t seen for a good 10-20 years and you taken right back to that forgotten time and place and all the emotions come flooding back as there’s that sense of coming home. I have always loved to sing and was good enough, but my voice is rusty and my violin’s become my voice, and to turn to the words of Johnny Farnham’s The Voice I need to

You’re the voice, try and understand it
Make a noise and make it clear

Do you have any musical dreams? If you could be any musician, who would you be? I’ll have to give it some thought.

Best wishes,

Rowena

The Prodigal Violinist.

Last Sunday, I performed Bach’s Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring at “MY violin concert”.

Before you start asking me for the details of my national tour, or how to order copies of Ms+e shar them in the comments. CD, in the interests of brutal honesty, I should confess that it wasn’t actually MY violin concert after all. Rather, I was performing at: “Music in the Orchard”, put on my the music school where I learn the violin. I know that’s just a minor distinction. A question of being in the fine print, instead of having my name up in lights, but a point needing clarification.

Anyway, as it turned out. I deserved to have my name my name up in lights,and that’s just for turning up. Ironically, playing my violin turned out to be the easy part.

You see, our household has a thieving poltergeist, and last Sunday morning it gave its best performance yet.

The nightmare started when my glasses went missing. Indeed, it hid my glasses  so well, that it took three people to find them. Every night, I put my glasses on top of the pile of books beside my bed. However, it’s not uncommon for me to send them flying during the night, but they usually land in the same old, predictable places i.e. down beside the bed or under the side table. However, this time they travelled further afield and had actually dived into my shoes. In an embarrassing moment of capitulation, I had to call my husband home from Church to find them.

The poltergeists next target was my daughter’s tap shoes. As no day is sacred in our end of year schedule and we’re double and triple booking and splitting the kids and ourselves up between us, my daughter had dance photos on the same day as my violin concert. While I’d really been looking forward to her hearing me play and being a part of my special day, I dropped her off at the dance studio as I headed up the hill. By this stage I was running late for my concert, but I figured that I wouldn’t be the opening act and would be well down the pecking order towards the end.

No such luck!

No sooner had I got there, and I was tuning up and praying to whoever it is who takes pity on mothers trying to pull off a performance while supporting their children and is lucky to be dressed at all, let alone made up. And, as for getting those fingers, strings and bow to cooperate, it was, going to take desperate prayer and serious pity. A case of the prodigal violinist… “I know you haven’t practiced enough, but I’ll help you play those strings and together we will make sweet music.”

As it turned out, I did have a guardian angel and that was my teacher, who was not just playing a duet alongside me. She was my accompaniest and a good accompaniest enhances the performer and compensates for their mistakes to make them look better. I knw she had my back, which gave me the confidence to get up on stage at all when I was only just adequately prepared.

So, let’s fast forward to my actual performance. I was playing Bach’s Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring. It is a fairly difficult piece, but it starts out relatively easy and gets more difficult as you go along. I usually managed it through the first page alright but struggle with the rest. Indeed, we had been looking at cutting out the middle section, but I really liked it and found it very dramatic so I bumped up the practice and went into prove it mode.

However, after all the stress of actually just getting to the venue and trying to find my bearings, I started stumling right from the start and my fingers weren’t getting into gear. There was part of me which was starting to feel my performance was doomed. That if I couldn’t even get the start right, I was really going to botch up the other bits. It was that same kind of dread which overtakes your stomach when you’re on a rollercoaster  and your peering straight down over the edge of the very earth. You are going to die! Yet, at the same time, there was also that awareness that the show had to go on. That I couldn’t give up. I just had to make it to the end.

Then, the strangest thing happened.

After stumbling at the start, I actually nailed the rest of the piece and it really did sound sensational as a duet.

I have a very patient and encourging teacher! A veritable angel!

Do you have any performance stories you’d like to share? Please share in the comments.

xx Rowena

 

 

Our Little Dancer & the Dance Solo.

Our Little Dancer gave her first solo performance today, and it was pure enchantment. More to the point, SHE was enchanting. Not just because she’s our daughter. Rather, because she’s reached that long awaited point, where she’s transcended years of training, commitment, lost ballet shoes, laddered tights, and entered the realm of magic. A realm so far beyond words, that I barely know where I am.

I don’t know whether you’ve been to this place yourself, but it turns being audience, into a flight without wings. One minute, you’re simply sitting in your chair. Then, inexplicably, you’re zooming off to unexplored realms and your feet are dangling in the air.  I suppose other people would simply describe this as their “happy place”, without all the flounce. However, as far as I’m concerned, a bit of flounce is quite approppriate. After all, we’re not describing a balance sheet here!

Unfortunately, at this stage, I can’t share any photos of her dancing or even in her dress. All I have at this point, is a photo of her costume hanging up last night. There was no time to even get that precious “before we leave” photo…her dark hair perfectly twisted into position, flawless makeup, lipstick, pink tuille all in motion swooshing out the door. Indeed, perhaps a shot of pink in motion, would have been more true to life than a staged shot in the hallway anyway.

Despite my spangled descriptions, my daughter wasn’t making her debut at the Sydney Opera House. Rather, she was performing with her dance school at a local nursing home. This was such a great place to start out. It not only gave students a chance to give to the local community, but it also allowed them to get experience in a less controlled but forgiving environment.  While the majority of residents were very attentive and could well have been seated in the Opera House, there was the occasional person walking through a performance on their Zimmer frame. A few sang along to one of the backing tracks and no doubt, there were those who fell asleep. Yet, this unpredictability is great, because it helps the dancers to  learn how to deal with distractions and adapt accordingly. A studio is a very controlled and largely predictable environment, which makes an excellent nursery, but the outside world is the stage.

Anyway, there I am in my seat wound up like a spring. I can’t wait and yet, I’m also absorbed in each of the other solos. I’ve seen them all before, and yet they still give me goosebumps. Take me on intense emotional twists and turns at 240 kph, which I can’t explain. I am just the passenger. A member of the audience. I don’t know how they make their magic. I just experience it.

amelia-ballerina

Ballerina Girl.

Finally, our daughter is centre dining room floor. She is beautiful. Beautiful, almost in an unearthly, ethereal way, becoming some kind of pink sylth whose materialized out of the air. Who is she? Where did she come from? Is she some kind of mysterious geni who escaped from an empty Coke bottle? I don’t know but she moves as light as a feather across the floor with such grace and poise that I’m totally spellbound. Me, the mother who gave birth to her earthly being, but this is a magic woven by her other “mothers”. Her dance teachers who’ve nurtured the butterfly out of her crysalis. Given her something I could not. Sure, I could give her the fire and the spirit, but I couldn’t help her mold and shape it into something that’s her own.

You see, as much as I love to dance and have even been doing adult dance classes for the last year, I have some disability and chronic health issues and let’s just say, that I’ve been unable to “reach my full potential’. Indeed, I try to resist saying “that she didn’t get it from me”, because I wasn’t me. I couldn’t be me with all that extra baggage, especially when I didn’t know it was there and what was causing my difficulties. I just thought it as me. Yet, despite having the hydrocephalus , I did ballet as a child and even had private lessons for awhile. I wasn’t always quite so clunky.

I often wish that I could experience more of my daughter’s dancing. At least in theory, I feel I could watch her dance all day everyday, which isn’t exactly true. However, as it stands, I feel like I’m peaking through a crack and I only get to experience the barest slither. Everything goes on behind closed doors, which it needs to, but I do crave for more. It would be nice if she danced more at home. Let me inside a little more. This is a comment lament of the parent, as sense of being on the outside when once upon a time, they were on the inside.

 

Yet, I know this is only the beginning. Not the very beginning but the beginning of her stepping up and starting to step out. Next year, she’s due to be getting her pointe shoes, and that really will be a huge development. That’s a ballet dancer’s coming of age…a right of passage. A ritual I never experienced, but I’ve been waiting for just as much as her. Indeed, I have my own pair of pink, satin ballet shoes with pink satin ribbons. They might not be pointe shoes but they’re beautiful, and they were my gift to myself. They were the materilization of a dream. That someone who struggles to walk, can also learn how to dance and dip their toe into ballet as a participant, and not always be a spectator relegated to the sidelines. After all, life’s too short to sit it out.

And now, my little dancer is asleep. All wrapped up in the world of dreams and I need to follow suite.

xx Rowena