Generally speaking I am highly allergic to Christmas carols (nausea, rash, shaking, etc.), but these lovely songs by Australian composer William James always manage to slip past my defences. I particularly like the one titled Christmas Day with its charming lyric by John Wheeler:
The north wind is tossing the leaves.
The red dust is over the town;
The sparrows are under the eaves,
And the grass in the paddock is brown;
Not your normal yuletide scene, but one that is instantly recognisable to anyone who has had a turkey roasting away on a sweltering 35 degree day!
Peggy Glanville Hicks holds a central place in the world of Australian classical music, and we are fortunate to be living in an age when more and more of her work is being performed and recorded. This lovely recording from 1984 presents her opera The Transposed Heads, based on a story by Thomas Mann, and you only have to listen to the remarkable orchestral prelude to recognise her great love-affair with the music of Asia and her astonishing ability to meld it with her Western musical roots. Lovely!
This lovely set celebrates 100 years of our own Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and volume 4 in the series focuses on Australian composers. Some real gems here, including a very graceful movement from a symphony by GWL Marshall-Hall, as well as works by Fritz Hart, Dorian Le Gallienne, Robert Hughes, and others; all long overdue for rediscovery. There be treasure here!
Sean O’Boyle was commissioned to write this symphony for the Brisbane Riverfestival in 1999, and it premiered in 2000 as part of that festival. Densely and lyrically scored for symphony orchestra, brass band, choir and 2 soprano soloists, it tells the life story of the rivers of the world from creation to journeys end as they flow into the sea. The Concerto for Didgeridoo was written in partnership with the wonderful player William Barton, and describes in aural terms the four elements; earth, wind, water and fire.
A spot of rehearsing, before the mosh-pit fills up……