Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sticky Mess

It’s true that recently I have been dissing Townsville’s meagre offerings in the realm of music and art. I even felt a bit justified and smug when I read Anna Goldsworthy’s report (in The Monthly) of the Beethoven concert that she and the Seraphim trio did in our local cathedral back in March. It was quite a hilarious recounting of their sweltering performance at the sticky end of Townsville’s wet season (email me if you’d like to read a copy).

But it’s easy to diss. And I feel not so much that my complaints have been heard and rectified as just shamed into a bit of an apology, because we’re getting not one but two really interesting performances up here as part of the Queensland Music Festival. Hayden doesn’t know it yet, but we’re going to drive all the way to Innisfail (about three hours north) especially to hear the one by John Rogers, a long-time favourite composer of mine. (I'll never forget his work based on The Inferno; the last part was performed on a flute and an oboe made of ice and the performance ended when the instruments had melted away.)

Also, I’ll be interested to see what the people of Townsville make of the other performance: the African Children’s Choir. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it has been argued successfully in court that Townsville is a racist town - too racist for an aboriginal person to get a fair trial here. At least one Palm Island resident has had their trial moved to Brisbane for that reason. If it’s true that the town is prejudiced, it’s going to be interesting to see their response to the African kids singing, cos not only are they black but they’ve each lost at least one parent to the African AIDS pandemic (so, you know, probably gay as well?).

I used to be really wary of artistic performances that purported to have some kind of political raison d'etre or a social conscience of any kind ... it always used to seem to me like they were fishing for government grant money more than anything else (and I've written a fair few grant applications so I know how your mind bends trying to come up with an angle that gets them to share their grubby pennies). But this one is going to be co-ordinated by David Bridie who is another one of my old favourites, so it should be in good hands. And, you know, it's going to be one of the two good shows we'll get here this winter, so it's not like I'm going to pass it up.

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