Saturday, 28 September 2013


“When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music. Which of you would be a reed, dumb and silent, when all else sings together in unison?” - Khalil Gibran
For Music Saturday, music by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714 - 1788), one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s famous composer sons. Born to Johann Sebastian and his first wife Maria Barbara, Emanuel followed the example of his godfather Georg Philipp Telemann by qualifying as a lawyer before pursuing a musical career. He moved from Leipzig to Berlin in 1740 to be a harpsichordist in the court of Frederick the Great.
Despite the fact that his appointment seems to have been made directly by Frederick (he was chosen to accompany the newly crowned monarch and musician for his first solo flute concert) Bach didn’t appear to make much headway in the Prussian court, never becoming credited as an official composer. Even the visit of his father to Frederick’s court in 1747 (the now legendary meeting that led to the composition of the Musical Offering) did nothing to advance the son’s career, dogged by quarrels and criticism of his unorthodox and “affected” playing style.
CPE Bach left Frederick’s service in 1767 after the death of his godfather Telemann, whom he succeeded as director of music of the five city churches of Hamburg. He was greatly respected both as a composer and as a friend of some of the most distinguished writers and thinkers of his time. In 1755 he published his influential “Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments”.
From his very considerable output his sonatas for flute and harpsichord remain an attractive part of chamber-music repertoire, and his symphonies written for Baron van Swieten, arbiter elegantiarum in Vienna, a man whose taste was generally trusted in artistic matters, are similarly notable. Music by CPE Bach is often listed with a reference number from the catalogue of his works by Wotquenne (Wq).Orchestral Music.
CPE Bach wrote a set of six String Symphonies, Wq. 182 for Baron van Swieten (diplomat, Court Librarian in Vienna and patron of Haydn and Mozart) as well as a set of four Orchestral Symphonies, Wq. 183 that include wind instruments. Four flute concertos, Wq. 166–9, are arranged from the composer’s own harpsichord concertos, as are the three cello concertos, Wq. 170–2 and the oboe concertos, Wq. 164–5.
The varied chamber music of CPE Bach includes five sonatas for flute and harpsichord, Wq. 83–7, five trio sonatas for flute, violin and basso continuo, Wq. 143–7, and an unusual Sonata for solo flute, Wq. 132.
CPE Bach wrote a great deal of music for the instruments on which he was acknowledged to be pre-eminent as a performer: The harpsichord and the gentler clavichord. These include Six Sonatas, Wq. 49 and Twelve Variations on the best known of contemporary themes for variations, “La Folie d’Espagne”, Wq.118.9.
Here are the transverse flute concertos, music which is elegant and inventive as well as pleasantly surprising and full of wonderful contrasts.

Friday, 27 September 2013


“If winning isn’t everything, why do they keep score?” - Vince Lombardi

As tomorrow is the Australian Rules Football Grand Final in Melbourne, with the Western Australia side, Fremantle playing against the Victorian side, Hawthorn, the recipe today is for traditional Aussie meat pies. This is the standard fare during the game, served with lots of tomato sauce. I guess you can always make it vegetarian by substituting stewed lentils for the minced meat, but the sportspeople would consider it sacrilegious!

Aussie Meat Pies


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large brown onion, finely chopped
500g lean beef mince
1 tablespoon cornflour
3/4 cup beef stock
3/4 cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon barbecue sauce
1 tsp salt
Finely ground pepper, mace, cumin to taste
2 sheets frozen, ready-rolled shortcrust pastry, thawed
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion. Cook for 3 minutes or until soft. Add mince. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon, or until browned.

Mix cornflour and 1 tablespoon of stock to form a paste. Add remaining stock. Add stock, sauces and spices to mince. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 8 minutes or until thick. Cool.

Preheat oven to 220°C. Place a baking tray into oven. Grease 4 x 8cm base measurement pie pans.

Cut 4 x 15cm circles from shortcrust pastry. Use to line bases and sides of pans. Fill with mince. Brush rims with water. Cut 4 x 15cm circles from puff pastry. Place over meat. Press to seal. Trim. Brush with egg. Season.

Place pies onto hot tray. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden. Serve.

This post is part of the Food Friday meme,
and also part of the Food Trip Friday meme.

Thursday, 26 September 2013


“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” - Anatole France
Another big change is about to happen in my life, and this one I have brought upon myself, so I am looking forward to it. Many people struggle with change and they feel more comfortable with the security of routine. Stability and predictability seem easier to deal with and most people given a choice would opt for this sedate existence where things change as little as possible. The quiet waters of a lake are less challenging than the changeable ocean where its serenity can become a tempestuous maelstrom from one minute to the next. Although I enjoy serene waters as much as the next person, I do desire some variety and yearn for new challenges with ripples and waves in the sea of my life.
Our modern urban existence is a constantly changing environment and the pace of change seems to be increasing with enormous rapidity year by year. Technology is making our lives more complex, and more dependent on it, and it seems even the simplest of our activities relies more and more on technology every day. Even our lifestyle and morals are changing rapidly. People are more likely to change jobs more often, change partners, change hairstyle, change the place where they live. People change attitudes, change their minds and the way they live more easily and more readily than they used to, say 50 years ago. Some may interpret this as an increased stressor in today’s lifestyle. Others welcome the freedom that such changes may bring with them.
If change is looked upon with a positive attitude, people will find it easier to deal with. If one accepts the change, then dealing with it becomes simpler. This is especially true if the change is from an external source that one has no control over. What one must do is analyse the change, look for new opportunities brought about by the change and then act so as to make the most of those new opportunities within the context of the new changes. It is quite important to stay flexible and relaxed about the change, which will allow rapid response to obstacles that may appear ahead.
Stubborn resistance to change is a negative response and many people may hang onto the old status quo, denying that change is taking place. This means that one cannot respond to the new state of affairs, there is inflexibility, reduced ability to react in appropriate ways and one is more likely to be dismissed as one that clings to the past and is unable to keep up with the new ways.
I like change and welcome it when it happens. Sometimes I bring it on myself as I see the opportunities that the change brings with it. However, when one moves on and commits to the change, there is some sadness that accompanies the end of an era and the commencement of a new one. This needs to be acknowledged, and accepted and sufficient time need be given to the grieving process that will inevitably occur. Once one has dealt with this, the changed environment can be embraced and its opportunities exploited.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013


“Bee to the blossom, moth to the flame; Each to his passion; what's in a name?” - Helen Hunt Jackson
“The Moth and the Lamp” by Cesar Santos (detail above) is this week’s visual stimulus for Magpie Tales’ followers who take the challenge to verbally create a suitable response.

The artist, Cesar Santos, (b. 1982) is a  Cuban-American. His art education is worldly, and his work has been seen around the globe, from the Annigoni Museum in Italy, the Beijing museum in China to Chelsea NY. Santos studied at Miami Dade College, where he earned his associate in arts degree in 2003. He then attended the New World School of the Arts before travelling to Florence, Italy. In 2006, he completed the “Fundamental Program in Drawing and Painting” at the Angel Academy of Art in Florence, studying under Michael John Angel, who was a student of artist Pietro Annigoni.
Santos’ work reflects both classical and modern interpretations juxtaposed within one painting. His influences range from the Renaissance to the masters of the nineteenth century to Modernism. With superb technique, he infuses a harmony between the natural and the conceptual to create works that are provocative and dramatic.
Among Santos’ solo shows are “Paisajes y Retratos” in the National Gallery in San Jose, Costa Rica; “Syncretism” in the Eleanor Ettinger Chelsea Gallery in New York; “Beyond Realism” with Oxenberg Fine Arts in Miami and “New Impressions” in the Greenhouse Gallery in San Antonio, among many others>

The artist has received numerous accolades, including first place in a Metropolitan Museum of Art competition. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States, Europe and Latin America, including the Frost Art Museum in Miami, the Villa Bardini Museum in Florence and the National Gallery in Costa Rica (from his website).
Here is my offering:
Falling in Love
Your mouth, a flower,
A sweet flower full of nectar.
Your mouth a trap, a spider sitting on its web.
A spider waiting for a victim –
And I, a weak incautious butterfly
That flies, hovers and falls
Into your fatal mesh.
Your eyes, as double suns shine,
Transmitting rays of light effulgent,
Attracting me to their deadly fires.
The suns hot and indifferent,
And I, a moth, helpless, impotent
Who flies there itself to immolate,
Without alternative or choice.
Your arms, fresh branches
Of the greenwood tree;
They seem benign, innocent.
Your hands offer caresses
But in the end mete out death.
A little sparrow I, fly into the darkness,
Only to perish immobile in your birdlime.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013


“The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.” - Albert Einstein
I attended a conference in Sydney these past two days and it has left me quite excited and brimming full of ideas. I participated both as a speaker and as a chair of a day's sessions. The two roles are different, yet related, in both cases acting as the agent that stimulates all-inclusive discussions with the attendees. However, I also enjoyed my function as an engaged audience member, who contributed to the general discussion.
The group attending was relatively small, but this perhaps contributed to the success of the conference as there was active engagement of all participants. The conference was an excellent opportunity for networking, for contributing to an ideas fest and for also being made aware of developments in the higher education sector across Australia and the rest of the world. Overall, if chosen well, such conference activities can revitalise an academic's stagnant mental marshes and will serve as a powerful creator of currents of intellectual activity.
The reason conferences are such a good scholarly activity is that they bring under the one roof people that share similar ideas, interests, jobs, contacts. Attendees are in a receptive frame of mind and at the right time and place. The bringing together of so many people under the same roof where they actively engage with one another and exchange ideas is conducive to active thinking, generation of new ideas, learning and exploration of brave new territory. Conferences  are safe environments for discourse, for thinking out loud and provoking people with some left field concepts and intellectual challenges. It is a good environment for oneself to be challenged and provoked!
The theme of the conference was using big data in driving strategic direction at universities. I was pleasantly surprised to see how much good work is being done in Australia at the present time by some very passionate and dedicated academics, administrators, executives and support personnel. The speakers were Australian and knowledgeable, experienced and engaging.


“The party is a true art form in Sydney and people practise it a great deal. You can really get quite lost in it.” - Baz Luhrmann

I am in Sydney for work again and have been going flat out with little time to spend on the computer. As well as attending a conference, presenting and chairing a whole day’s proceedings, I have had meetings with some people and working dinners. At least the whole thing is close to Darling Harbour and I did manage to have a stroll there after the long day was over…

Darling Harbour is intended to be one of Sydney’s trendy places, although some visitors find it lacking in character (and greenery). It used to be a former dockside area, but now the small functional harbor of yore has been transformed into a major tourist site and a leading convention and exhibition centre.

A monorail service used to run from the Central Business District to Darling Harbour and skirted the harbour, making stops at points around the harbour. However, this year the monorail is being dismantled and its skeletal remains are to be seen in various parts of the city. Until now, Darling Harbour has been a place that has appealed more to kids, due to the number of children’s attractions, but the advent of the Cockle Wharf restaurant and cafe complex has added a new dimension to Darling Harbour.

Sunday, 22 September 2013


“A good painting to me has always been like a friend. It keeps me company, comforts and inspires.” - Hedy Lamarr
Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975) is one of the best-known muralists associated with the American Scene Painting movement of the 1930s. Benton’s portrayals of pre-industrial agrarian life and his later emphasis on the plight of the working class in the post-Depression era earned him a reputation as a social activist, and he gained publicity through public works projects. Benton’s Regionalism gained him recognition through public art works in highly visible locations such as banks, post offices, and political buildings. The Indiana Murals, Benton’s most well-known and most controversial work, is exemplary of both the Regionalist style of painting and his focus on social commentary. As part of the state of Indiana’s contribution to the 1933 Century of Progress Exhibition in Chicago, the Indiana Murals depict the oppressed farmers, Ku Klux Klan members, and big business as negative actors in society. After Benton’s success with the Indiana Murals, he took a teaching position at the Kansas City Art Institute. For the rest of his career, Benton remained in the Midwest and focused on public murals, leaving a legacy that captured the character of the collision between agrarian life and industrialisation in 1930s America.
Though Benton gained fame as an artist in cities such as New York, Chicago, and Paris, he was born in rural Neosho, Missouri. Despite his strong political background and the encouragement of his congressman father, Benton shunned politics in favour of art school. After a short stint as a cartoonist, Benton enrolled in the Art Institute of Chicago in 1907 and later transferred to the Academie Julian in Paris. In Paris, Benton met renowned Mexican muralist, Diego Rivera, whose use of vivid colours and portrayal of social realities would heavily influence Benton’s style during the formative years of Regionalism.
After returning from Paris in 1913, Benton took up a job as a draughtsman for the Navy and switched from painting landscapes to sketching scenes from shipyard life. These early years as an artist, characterised by migration between disparate environments like the rural American Southeast, the Paris art scene, and the Naval shipyards, played an integral role in crystallising Benton’s view of the tension between cosmopolitan and agrarian life.
Back in the New York art scene during the 1920s, Benton taught at the Art Students League and began to gain acclaim for his works that addressed the social realities of the city. Benton also became more directly involved in leftist politics, an association that may have directly spawned the works known today as part of the Regionalist movement. In many ways, Regionalism thrived in the wake of the American art renaissance at the turn of the century. The success of the Ashcan School (1910) demonstrated a uniquely American movement away from dependence on European art aesthetic and sought to claim a legitimacy for a strictly American art at the international level.
American Scene Painting during the 1930s took up the challenge of the Ashcan School by depicting everyday life in America in a representational, easily accessible style. Modern art historians generally consider Regionalism to be the subset of American Scene Painting, which deals more directly with the incorporation of art into the public hemisphere in order to evoke nostalgia for pre-industrial America. Social Realism, the other subset of American Scene Painting, places a heavier emphasis on art as a vehicle for political and social critique. Noted Regionalists include Grant Wood and Ben Curry, both contemporaries of Benton. These painters primarily gained publicity through federal art projects funded as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal, and their works reflect the desire to appeal to a public aesthetic.
Benton eventually moved to Kansas City, where he painted some of his most well-known works such as the Independence Murals and the Truman Library, and where he lived for until his death in 1975. Benton’s works during his years in Kansas City reflected his new environment: The beauty of the rural Midwest and the life of small farmers. At the same time, the relentless forces of American industrialisation and capitalism made their way into Benton’s works, and American icons of progress, railroads, city culture, and cars, begin to encroach on the Benton’s idyllic pastoral scenes. Towards the end of Benton’s life, he turned away from the role of social critic and produced more portraits and works for decorative purposes. Benton died in 1975, in his studio, but left a rich history of American culture and society during the 1930s and 40s in his wake.
Benton began the mural above, “Independence and the Opening of the West” at the Truman Library and Museum in 1960. The artist documents the Plains Indians’ struggle against the hunter, trapper, the French and the permanent settlers. Independence was known as the last city before the frontier. While Benton was painting this mural Truman and he became friends and Truman was even known to climb up on the scaffolding with the artist and occasionally daub a bit of paint on the sky. Although Truman did not want to be immortalised as a subject in a mural, he viewed Benton’s work favourably.