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Mar 12, 2012

Australia/New Zealand Tour - Mar 12, 2012

Shaun Smyth (narrator)

Monday was our first of two stops in Sydney and it went brilliantly. The schedule was very tight. We checked into our hotel around 2pm, and then headed to the concert hall for a dress rehearsal and then the concert at 7pm. The Sydney audience loved the programme! We didn’t get much of a chance to explore the city but we are back there on Friday for a couple of days so I intend to get out there and have a look.

For the Australian tour Alison added a piece of text about the Aboriginal people from Elcho Island in the Northern Territory, and their ancient interpretation of the cosmos. The piece is taken from a book called Emu Dreamingby Ray and Cilla Norris. I couldn’t believe it when I discovered that Ray Norris was at the concert. I had a really nice chat with him afterwards and he was very moved that he heard some of his work read aloud onstage. He said that the relationship between Australians and the Aboriginal people is very complicated and controversial and that anytime people can understand and appreciate the history and traditions of the Aboriginal people it’s a great day.

National Gallery in Victoria
Indigenous art at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Wednesday was a day off in Melbourne and everyone had all sorts of plans. Internet has been notoriously tricky here but I found a great place for free Wi-Fi… the Westin Hotel lobby, with cushy leather chairs and chilled water with lime in it. I was able to Skype for an hour with my new baby Margaret (she’s 7 months old) and I was getting some odd looks from the business folks in the lobby as I loudly goo goo gaa gaa’d with my baby.

In the afternoon I took the tram out to St. Kilda beach and again got in a good rollerblade session along the ocean. It’s a really cool area, kind of like College St. in T.O. meets Venice Beach in California.

Later the ladies of the orchestra threw a party for the rest of us and we enjoyed nice Australian wine, Pat Jordan’s guacamole, and Steve McKay’s special raspberry gin. Very civilized … sort of.

Green Glasses
Aisslinn's glasses are catching on! She's such a trendsetter. (With Steve McKay, technical director and stage manager)

Last night a group of us went to the Sydney Opera House to watch The Marriage of Figaro. It was incredible. We took a ferry through the harbour and under the bridge to the boardwalk near the Opera House. There we had a lovely supper and watched the sun drop in the sky. It seems that all of Sydney was down by the water Friday night letting off steam – the place was jumping. The opera was fantastic and I walked home through the streets of Sydney soaking up the atmosphere.

View from inside the Sydney Opera House
View from inside the Sydney Opera House

Each time we play in a new hall we have an hour or two to get a feel for the place and work out the logistics of the movement, etc. It has become one of my favourite times on the tour because it is in this time that I get to watch the orchestra at work. It is the time when they work on certain musical passages to change something up or try a new cadence for that evening’s performance. I find it incredible that so many people are able to communicate with each other in such a diplomatic and democratic way. It has also sharpened my ear as I try to hear what they are hearing and believe me, they all have bionic ears. Tafelmusik and dogs are operating on another frequency. I love that the music of this programme continues to grow in its richness and texture in a very organic way. 

Angel Place, Sydney
Art installation in Angel Place, outside the City Recital Hall, Sydney.

Saturday afternoon we played a concert in Sydney to a packed-out house and I think it was our best so far. The audience was stamping their feet and cheering at the end, we played 2 encores! Later Aisslinn, Julia, Lucas and I took the boat out to Manly Beach and watched the surfers. It is a stunningly gorgeous beach, we all took our shoes off and splashed around – four sets of shoulders dropped at the same time. Now it’s off to Adelaide.

Manly Beach
Downtime on Manly Beach

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