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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Violaaaaaahhhh!

It's the end of day 3 of the international viola congress, and a great congress it is, too! In Adelaide University's Elder School of Music, based in various building of the university campus (a mixture of Victorian and modern), we rush about between buildings for concerts, masterclasses and talks. Coffee is a bit thin on the ground, though, what with the campus coffee shops closing at 3 pm. What do the students do? There can be awakeness crises!

Lots of the usual faces attend, but also many, many Australians and Kiwis. Every day starts with a group play in at 8.30 am - bit of a killer, what with having difficulties to find breakfast first, but an amazing number of people attend! Slight blow yesterday when the chap running it had apparently fallen over his dog, whilst walking it in the dark, and broken his foot. Today he conducted from a wheelchair.

Luckily the music is quite different from other congresses, with mostly modern, very new music, often from Aussie or Kiwi composers. Many concerts contain at least one Aussie premiere. This makes it more interesting. Not that all the music is necessarily great, and not every performance is brilliant, but it is always thus. Must be frightening to perform in front of lots of viola aficionados! Today we had a nice performance of Berio's 'Naturale', and the other day the NZ Symphony Orchestra's viola band played a lovely arrangement of all sorts of viola themes from different operas and symphonies, by Craig Utting who apparently does many arrangements for multi-violas. Every performer also does a little talk about the pieces they are about to play, which is very helpful.

There are not so many instruments for sale as usual - Australia only has 20 million inhabitants, it's a huge country, and for many people it's not so economical to travel to a congress to show their fiddles. But there are some very interesting, and very cheap, Chinese instruments by kginstruments which are worth further exploration. They passed well at today's 'instrument-tasting' session where leading players tried out different instruments. There is also an instrument maker from NZ, though, who knows the luthier from Vilnius who emigrated to NZ a few years ago - small world!

The weather has remained just bearable, though I still find it funny running in next to nothing past people who are very heavily wrapped indeed! Once I could not resist temptation and said to someone well-wrapped in a lift 'you'd think it's winter' - it did not go down well.....

3 comments:

Rodrigo said...

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Anonymous said...

Hi,
I just randomly found your post on this blog from a few months ago regarding Edwin Paling, ex-leader of Scottish National Orchestra. You were wondering where he had got to - I can answer that... He is the new Associate Professor of Violin at the University of Tasmania. Just thought you might like to know! - Rachel

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I just randomly found your post on this blog from a few months ago regarding Edwin Paling, ex-leader of Scottish National Orchestra. You were wondering where he had got to - I can answer that... He is the new Associate Professor of Violin at the University of Tasmania. Just thought you might like to know! - Rachel