Bellavista Terrace

By Chris Mineral

Lilting melodies could be heard at the Wheeler Centre on Sunday, October 14 with the awesome “Collective Spirit” poetry show.

Poignant, illuminating, insightful poetry. This was a performance of emerging indigenous poets chaired by Ali Cobby Eckermann. 

It featured the talented trio, emerging Victorian indigenous poets, Emily-Munro Harrison, Monica Karo and Ryan Prehn. The poets had some time to work on their material at Kalang Retreat Poetry spoken on Wurundjeri country.

Ali Cobby Eckermann’s grandmother’s tribe was affected by the British nuclear testing at Maralinga and her poem about their experiences afterwards is compelling. 

The format of the show was interesting, with each poet chiming in one after the other and sometimes performing poetry they had written together. Following getting great feedback after the show and a lengthy round of applause, it is anticipated that the Wheeler Centre will hold a second edition of Collective Spirit.

Kudos to Kalang Retreat, the City of Melbourne’s arts posse and the arts team at the Victorian government for their support of this inspiring project.

On Wednesday, October 10 at the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) HQ, Sydney pianist Maggie Pang performed a great recital, featuring Claude Debussy’s Pour le Piano, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata no 26 in E flat major op 81a Les Adieux and Bela Bartok’s Out of Doors (1926). 

The highlight was the Bartok. Pang delivering the goods with a passionate performance. In a letter to Stefi Geyer in 1907, Bartok wrote: “My kingdom is one of discord”.  This is exemplified in With Drums and Pipes – Pesante.

It was a very dramatic series of striking opening chords, staccato, real percussive, with a discordant feel. Bartok was inspired by Hungarian folk music and its rhythms.

Out Of Doors is based on research that Bartok undertook about Hungarian folk music. With Drums And Pipes is based on the folk song Sippal, dobbal … 

Pang was on from the get-go. 

Bartok wrote this after hearing Stravinsky in Budapest on the Ides of March, 1926 – more than four years before Phar Lap won the Melbourne Cup. 

That night in Budapest, Igor Stravinsky himself was at the piano. The tonal centre shifts from E to D as we move along the music. The Nights Music piece imitates sounds at night, including the Hungarian unka frog, cicadas and birds. In the third piece Musettes there is a direction that reads “Due o tre volte ad libtum” (play optionally two or three times). 

The fifth and final piece The Chase is inspired by the pantomime The Miraculous Mandarin. Pang was superb – holding the demanding left-handed ostinato. Fine grace notes, great arpeggios. It was a very entertaining performance by a musician taking on challenging technical material and giving it a tremendous interpretation of subliminity. Fine music in Victorialand.

In an essay that he wrote in 1976, Bartok wrote: “Every art has the right to strike its roots in the art of the previous age”. 

In that light, a stellar collection of Melbourne musos gathered together with The Go Betweens – Lindy Morrison (drums), Amanda Brown (violin) and John Wilmsteed (bass guitar) – to perform songs from the brilliant 16 Lovers Lane album. 

For people who believe in vinyl albums, punters were treated to a special sonic delight as the bright, pop-infused, summery vibe was summoned by musical favourites Jen Cloher, the dapper Rob Snarski, Romy Vager, Dave Graney, Laura Jean, Danny Widdicombe, Luke Peacock, Paul Kelly, Dan Kelly, Clare Moore and Alex Gow. They played the album – both sides – from start to finish and then a clutch of great The Go Betweens’ tunes.

Some consider 16 Lovers Lane to be the apogee of the Grant McLennan/ Robert Forster song-writing team. The album was written in the summer after the band had returned from London and was released in the winter of ’88. 

A set list: Love Goes On / Quiet Heart / Love is a Sign / You Can’t Say No Forever / The Devil’s Eye / Streets Of Your Town / Clouds / Was There Anything I Could Do? / I’m All Right / Dive For Your Memory / Rock ‘n’ Roll Friend / Bye Bye Pride / Apology Accepted / Twin Layers Of Lightning / Cattle And Cane / The House Jack Kerouac Built / Spring Rain. 

Grant McLennan mentioned once to Steve Kilbey (with whom he worked with on the underrated Jack Frost project) that he thought the Paul Kelly song was such a beautiful song that it was one of those songs that he would not sing. He thought it was pure and perfect. It was untouchable. Kilbey, then of course being Kilbey, played Randwick Bells live the next time that McLennan at a Kilbey show. Cool out. 

Appropriate then that Paul Kelly played the closer of the night, the effervescent, optimistic Spring Rain. Another album worth investigating is the compilation Bellavista Terrace. Music recorded at 92 Fahrenheit degrees. 

Take an instance to check out Luke Dylan Greenhatch on FB and his magnificent, fantastic musical tribute to Chicago musician Otis Rush, the man synonymous with the West Side Chicago Blues sound. 

You can catch Greenhatch Blues in the CBD. And put in the diary November 22 for the Melbourne Music Week Safari.

Gigs / Shows

Mojo Juju – Howler Friday, November 9.

Melbourne Music Week Safari – Thursday, November 22.

Sunday Arvos in November – Cherry Bar Blues Sessions.

The Living End – Forum Theatre Saturday, November 3.

Shihad – 170 Russell, Friday, November 30.

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