Monday, 27 May 2013

Perth International Jazz Festival

Candles twinkled on the stage and as Katie Noonan’s first song floated from the stage we could have been in her lounge rather than at the Perth Concert Hall. Noonan was one of three artists to share the stage for the International Jazz Festival’s headline concert. As she crooned her intimate songs a gentle hush fell over the enthusiastic jazz audience; shoulders relaxed and ears began to glow. We were in for a good night.

Noonan was the glue in an appealing program that also featured American tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano and singer Vince Jones. Noonan has collaborated with both; classically trained but pop-inspired and with more creativity than most jazz musicians, she stretched happily across musical styles.

Noonan opened the concert with songs from her recent Songbook album with the Elixir Trio. Guitarist Steve Magnusson and soprano saxophonist Zac Hurren provided an introspective, earthy backdrop to her sweet, sliding soprano.

Joe Lovano’s opening blast of notes was a complete contrast. Blessings in May from his new album Cross Culture was fast and multi-layered, demanding high return from the accompanying rhythm section of Ben Vanderwal (drums), Sam Anning (bass) and Tal Cohen (piano). Cohen stepped up for a clean, swinging and spacious piano solo in the free-form Blue Sketches. Hurren and Noonan joined Lovano’s ensemble for the more clearly orchestrated Blackwell’s Message. The duetting saxophones explored multiphonics while Noonan scatted in the background and the variety of sounds and textures made this piece the highlight of the set.


The suave groove of Vince Jones took the concert in another direction again. His high tenor voice sounded un-aged and smooth as ever while his elegantly dry humour drew much laughter and his flugel horn solos added a warm touch. Songs inspired by his mother’s budgerigar (Budgie), his credit card (Wonderworld), and love (Between Your Eyes) sat alongside an environmental plea (Planet). He was supported by Matt McMahon (piano), Ben Waples (bass) and James Waples (drums).

The three artists collaborated in a grand finale which was a remix of the Beatles tune Yesterday. Jones’ and Noonan stretched and teased the tune with their melodic inflections and the familiar melody provided the opportunity to appreciate the harmonic adventures in Lovano’s saxophone solos.

This cleverly-conceived triple bill promises much for the future of the festival because it was broad-reaching in its appeal but collaborative in style. Just what a festival should be.

Review copyright The West Australian 2013

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Women of Note at Victoria Park Library

I wrote part of Women of Note at the Victoria Park Library so I'm looking forward to returning there on Tuesday (21st May) to share the music and stories I discovered in my research.

I will be presenting a talk from 6:30-7:30pm but come at 6pm for the complimentary refreshments!

RSVP to the library on 9373 5500.
The library is located at 27 Sussex St East Victoria Park

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Women of Note at Nedlands Library

 Feeling hungry?!

Nedlands Library is holding an all-day workshop on Monday which they are calling a Day of Literary Feasting

The program is jam packed with exciting and mouth-watering sessions for book lovers, wannabe blog writers, aspiring writers, and anyone wanting to be inspired by the written word.
The last session for the day features yours truly sharing some of the stories and music that I discovered while writing Women of Note. Champagne and cheese included according to the promo material below!

I'm impressed with the organisation and interesting program Nedlands have put together. If you are interested get in quickly as bookings are essential. Phone 9273 3644 or email
Hope to see you there!  

Music Monday - May 2

Did you know WA had a Richard Wagner Society??
The society is helping celebrate Wagner's 200th birthday with a concert at St George's College (Nedlands) on Sunday 19th May. The concert starts at 4pm and includes drinks, birthday cake and performances by Fiona McAndrew, Robert Hofmann, Alexandra Leonzini, Mark Coughlan, Paul Wright, James Ledger and Alessandro Pittorino.

Also on Sunday the St Paul's Chapel Choir (John Septimus Roe School) are performing Vierne's Messe Solennelle for choir and two organs at St Patrick's Basilica.

Voyces are a new and exciting choral group with lots of contemporary and Australian music in their repertoire. I am keen to check them out. They are singing at Trinity College on Saturday 25th, 7:30pm.

Stravinsky is also having a birthday - at least, his Rite of Spring is turning 100. I think this piece of music is exciting enough without the birthday bling marketing. But that is publicity for you! On Sunday 26th the UWA School of Music are putting together a 170-strong orchestra to perform Rite of Spring and they will also collaborate with UWA Choral Society for Rachmaninov's exuberant The Bells.

We don't get enough opera in Perth so if you are a fan you will appreciate that WAAPA is performing Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and Ricci's La Serva e l'Ussero. The season opens on Wednesday 29th of May and will sell out so be quick with tickets.

The Australian String Quartet are in town again on Thursday 30th for their tour with cellist Timo-Veikko. On the program is Haydn's 'Lark' Quartet, Bartok's 3rd Quartet and Schubert's Quintet in C.

Happy musicking!


Thursday, 9 May 2013

ACO and Barry Humphries

The Australian Chamber Orchestra’s M-rated tour with comedian Barry Humphries must be their most unlikely collaboration yet. The orchestra dressed in fishnet stockings and the comedian best known for his alter-ego Edna Everage guided the audience through the revolutionary cabaret music of 1920’s and 30’s Berlin.

Music by composers such as Grosz, Brand, Spoliansky was virtually lost during the Holocaust and much of it was being performed in Australia for the first time . It turns out their entertaining and provocative music has a passionate advocate in Humphries, who first discovered old Weimar-era scores when browsing a second-hand Melbourne bookstore as a boy. Humphries was aided by the outrageous cabaret diva Meow Meow who has been singing this repertoire since her student days at WAAPA. Iain Grandage’s arrangement of the music gave a gritty edge to the normally clean ACO sound, with the wheezy combinations of accordion, banjo, saxophone and bassoon.

Humphries danced, sang duets with Meow Meow and even conducted the orchestra ('Is there anything I can’t do!’). In between he kept the audience delighted with his droll critique of Europe, Melbourne and Perth (‘We should pay tribute to the owners of the land we are on – the Rinehart Family’).

The evening was marked by a sense of nostalgia for this short-lived era of experimental frivolity and political satire. Schulhoff’s Sonata Erotica evoking a female orgasm was delightfully articulated by Meow Meow who paused mid-groan to turn the pages of the score. The same composer’s Suite for Chamber orchestra started with an air raid siren and evolved into a complex orchestral piece inspired by nightclub rhythms. Meow Meow seized Humphries as her dance partner in Jezek’s Bugatti Step (written in honour of a female racing car driver) and sang Spoliansky’s tribute to lesbian love When the Best Girlfriend with violinist Satu Vanska. The orchestra played Hindemith’s Kammermusik No 1 Op 24 with incisive energy and left instruments lying in their laps for Toch’s intriguing spoken Geographical Fugue.

 This review copyright the West Australian Newspaper 2013