May 6, 2011

I am about to embark on a fortnight’s total immersion in music.  Sounds like acoustic water-boarding, but it’s a matter of choice.  The Canberra International Music Festival runs between May 11th and 22nd, and I’ve splurged on a gold pass, which means I can attend all 34 concerts, should I so choose.

I find that the ‘jet-lag’ caused by embarking on the long-distance haul triggers connections in my brain that otherwise lie dormant.  That’s once I get past the lurking feelings of inadequacy that great music always creates.  Sometimes I feel that poetry is music’s poor relation, being tied too much to meaning. But then another vodka kicks me past this, and the synapses stimulated (or created) by the baptism in sound can be put to good use, emphasising the noise that words make, and twisting meanings into improvised forms.

Here’s a little poem about the feeling that others (or Others Unseen) are somehow more perfectly creative.  (Interestingly, I searched Bigstock for an illustration combining music and snails to go with the poem, and found the image above.  It’s comforting, in a way, to know that someone else’s mind has been where mine has!):

Even snails

Peg loves looseness, envies river of sheet,
flowing down from plastic clench of beak.
Milk would carve itself into solidity, escape
sloppy white seascape into certainties of cheese.
Poet would be musician, shed sad bad husks of words,
sprout into airier art, so eary and so letterless.
Sliming through house-heavy dirt,
even snails may dream of wings.

P.S. Cottier

Update 11th May

Just returned from sitting in an exposed position  on concrete on a wet piece of rubber listening to William Barton and an organist play some interesting music. (Barton’s own composition and some Philip Glass.) But I really couldn’t concentrate or enjoy the experience, as it was just too cold.  There’s no way that concerts should be staged in Canberra at 7am at the end of Autumn.  There’s a real martyrdom for music attitude amongst some of the attendees at the Canberra International Music Festival.  I simply had to leave early as I felt I might get hypothermia.  I obviously don’t have the right attitude.  And the event was very difficult to locate for those of us who got there early, which added to my general festive spirit.

Unbelievable comment from one fellow attendee when I commented that I hoped the performance was not cancelled due to possible rain damage to the instruments: ‘Oh no, it’s only a didjeridu’. 40,000 years of culture belittled.  Hats off to you, dickhead.  (Although there’s no way I would have removed my hat due to possible frost-bite.)

Previously I saw William Barton as one of the musicians in a concert at the Fitters’ Workshop featuring Sculthorpe’s Requiem, another requiem by Tomas Luis de Victoria and a setting of ee cumming’s ‘I thank you God for most this amazing day’ by Eric Whitacre.  I wasn’t too keen on the last one, perhaps because that poem is so near perfect that the music seemed, for once, to detract from its beauty.

The event was co-sponsored by the Spanish Embassy.  A Spaniard (I think she was, anyway) pointed out that there were several red-backs nestling at the edge of the concrete of this old industrial building, including one enormous one.  I agreed that it was better to leave them alone, rather than stir them up into possible vengeance (a pun about red-backs and bulls was stifled on my tongue).  I found myself explaining how the really big ones are female.  I hadn’t expected to become a junior David Attenborough at the concert, I must admit.  No doubt she’ll have a story to tell back in Spain: (‘..and they have horrible spiders, even at musical venues…’)

Thoughts? Carrots? Sticks? Comments? Go ahead!

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