Archive for the ‘WA’ Category

“Up” denotes water

September 30, 2009

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My trip to the West is over, though I may have to return.

It included a dash from Perth down to Albany to see my aunt, just turned 80.

To one used to the roads out of Sydney, the Albany Highway was a dream: it felt as though I had the road to myself, though in truth probably only the strip about 800m before and behind me. A few cars overtook me; perhaps I passed 4 or 5 vehicles in 400+ kilometres, a few more on the way back.

My own theory is that the minerals wealth of WA has meant that rural roads are maintained at a level which roads of similar traffic density in NSW would not be considered to warrant. It also helps that the terrain is, generally speaking, much less challenging.

A billboard announced that the shire of Kojinup, through which I passed, was “the first shire” with “1,000,000 sheep.” I’m not so sure that this is the case today.

In case you are wondering, the title to this post comes from something in the WA handwriting copy book of the 1930s, recalled to me on more than one occasion by contemporaries of my parents. “-up” at the end of a place name in WA indigenous place names (at least of the southern, Noongar people) was thought to mean a place where water is to be found, though another explanation is that it just means “place of”.

Maybe my geography is faulty, but I have always thought that this was WA’s wheat belt. I saw no wheat. It could be more accurately described as WA’s rape belt.

That’s rape seed, of course, or canola.

To a lawyer on on the road, it resembled nothing so much as though someone had run a gigantic yellow flourescent highlighter through the landscape.

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I also squeezed in another visit to the Perth Concert Hall to hear the WASO with Marc-Andre Hammelin (pf) and Paul Daniels do Brahms piano concerto No 2, Beethoven 6 and a piece by Mark Anthony Turnage inspired by an asteroid (Ceres). The box office told me that the seat I was getting was usually reserved for their corporate hospitality. It was only when I got in that I realised just how nice a seat it was. I couldn’t resist taking a picture to document the vantage point – that is, until the usher told me to stop. Here they are set up for the Brahms after interval:

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Frère Jacques

September 20, 2009

In a minor mode.

Yes, I have been to hear Mahler 1, in Perth, with the WASO conducted by Paul Daniels.

This has been a sudden visit, brought on by a medical emergency (not mine, obviously). Instead of flying to China on Friday (which was my plan) I flew to Perth.

I was last here in 2005. I feel a bit like Rip van Winkle. The car hire firm I sought out in Milligan Street in the city informed me that they have moved twice since. The underpass/tunnel to nowhere under St George’s Terrace from the Perth Concert Hall is now barred shut. The sexy gay cellist of a certain age whom D rather fancied seems to have moved on (he could have been away)[afternote: still there, but a little older, as, of course, are we all].

On the other hand, some things seem to stay the same. The percussionist with poise and a talent to always be in the limelight is still there. There was no sign of John Harding, the latest concertmaster, or even, as far as I could make out, his deputy. When I looked in The West Australian on my arrival on Friday (I was internetless) in the hope of a WASO performance to catch, there was absolutely no mention anyway, in advertisements or any “what’s on” section, of the two performances on Friday and Saturday this weekend.

My guess is that, as a self-respecting monopolist, the West doesn’t give any publicity for free. Conversely, judging from the quite healthy attendance, the orchestra doesn’t feel the necessity to contribute to the paper’s rivers of gold.

Intelligently, the concert opened with the discarded movement from the symphony, Blumine, and then the Bartók (posthumously completed by another) viola concerto played by Ruth Killius. I will be missing this and her in Sydney, so this was a bit like Death and Damascus. I can’t say that I really warmed to the work. Bartók and I have a troubled relationship (though it was from the WASO that I heard a brilliant concert performance of Bluebeard’s Castle).

In other news and social technology, I see that Cosi fan tutte played tonight to a half-full house in Sydney. That’s a Saturday night. Just what is going on? I think Henry Choo is entitled to be upset about that.