Equip yourself for life…

Sepia-toned photo on beige background of Sir John Monash in WWI Australian Imperial Forces full army uniform. Has stripes and peaked hat of a General. Over Monash are words in white: Peace A Cantata for John Monash. Behind him is an indistinct motif of the Shrine of Remembrance and a steamer ship.

Front cover of concert program

The title is taken from a quote by Sir John Monash: “Adopt as your creed that you will equip yourself for life, not solely for your own benefit but for the benefit of the whole community.” 

On Saturday evening, after months of hard work (including many rehearsals in the final few weeks), the John Monash concert was held. 

It was an amazing experience. There were 29 songs. 13 of them were massed choir pieces, along with pieces for the children’s choir and soloists, all accompanied by a talented orchestra and conducted magnificently by Dr David Kram. David was also the composer, while lyrics were written by poet Kevin O’Flaherty or taken from speeches or letters from Sir John Monash himself. The soloists were Lisa Ann Robinson (Soprano), Michel LaLoum (Baritone), Kristen Leich (Mezzo Soprano), Eddie Muliaumaseali’l (Bass). The orchestra was a hand-picked selection of Melbourne’s finest. 

The concert celebrated the life and values of Sir John Monash. He was an Australian army general in WWI, whose ingenuity enabled a decisive victory in Amiens, France which hastened the Allies victory. But he was so much more than a general. He was a peace-maker, born of migrant parents, Jewish, educated and intelligent, a firm believer in democracy. He was a keen advocate for those under his command, an engineer, lover of music and languages; a family man. 

The Cantata demonstrated this through song – if only all history was explained this way! 😉 It also had some great songs about the peacemakers and the folly of war – the experiences of nurses, Indigenous men, family waiting back home for news, Turkish and Australian soldiers at Gallipoli, and the children of France. 

It was a wonderful experience to take part in. On one level, I sang with friends and my boyfriend, so had the shared connection of that. But more than that there was the music itself. The songs involved a few tricky-to-master parts like fugues and synchopated timings, as well as some entries on high notes. And the songs are memorable – the way lyrics and music worked together evoked images of the song’s message. Everything from the dread and anguish of a pink telegram (MIA soldier now confirmed dead), violins and the timpani sounding like planes strafing and machine-guns) to the importance of peace. It was beautiful. 

I do mean beautiful. It was a evocative Australian story, told through song. At the end of the Cantata, as we sat down after our final bows, I felt incredibly moved. A sense of awe swept through me. I wanted to sit with the feeling for a few moments, it was that strong. 

I cannot thank More Than Opera, the Melbourne company who supported the concert, enough for the chance to be a part of it. I’ve had concert songs float through my head every day since and they still bring a smile to my face. 

Let there be peace! 

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Marriage Equality Survey Starts being Mailed Today

Key Dates for the Marriage Equality Postal Survey:


I’ll be voting yes. I hope you will too.

I’m voting yes for my friends and family and those who want to get married but can’t. I’m voting yes because as a progressive Catholic agnostic woman, I think that love is love, fairness is fairness, and those who rush to judge should take a look in their own eye for the plank of wood before hunting out a supposed speck in someone else’s.

I’m also voting yes because I feel that the arguments of the no side – the most strident, loudest arguments particularly – don’t hold water. They’re obfuscations and distractions. Often they’re downright homophobic and transphobic too. Read my marriage equality essay if you haven’t already – I pull things apart a bit more clearly there.

Tbh, I would have much preferred a free vote in Parliament. Human rights shouldn’t have to be decided by popular vote. But since it’s going to happen…. may love win.I welcome discussion, provided it’s not based on bigotry, on the blog.

Return your form on the day you receive it. This matters. At the end of the day, it’s about celebrating love and commitment.

Spring (and Finals season) approacheth

Football (AFL) finals that is.

I’ve been reflecting lately. Life’s been busy in fun ways – but also a bit tiring (though maybe I just need more sleep?).

Of my reflections, two are related to the time of year.

In the Melbourne six-season calendar I showed you earlier in the year, it’s now Pre-Spring. Which means the weather is all a bit topsy-turvy (though that might just be the seasonal pattern of this year), while the days are getting longer. Today’s sunrise – sunset times were 06:44 and 17:58 according to a calendar I have, for example. 

Last year I took photos of the trees in my family’s back garden budding – I even blogged it I think. Those trees are early-budders. I was reminded of them by an app that shows photos you’ve taken or saved, events you’ve noted yourself as attending, and so on, for each day. It’s a flashback app. It made me think, seeing those photos – about then and now, change, seasons and the like. I’ll be on the lookout as the months change, August to September, for early-budders and other signs of seasonal changes in my new place. 

Here are some signs already: 


Each season (whether that be six or four) is new this year due to my changed location. If I can just remember that and stop to take it in, despite the feelings of busyness, I’ll be happy.

Another thing that I’ve reflected upon lately is the football culture of Melbourne. I’ve not really been the biggest footy fan – it’s always been a family connection for me. That’s not to say that I don’t get involved or passionate about some aspects. Well, maybe passionate is the wrong word. But I’ve followed a team – or teams, in the days when I had the family team and my own one, before drifting back to focus solely on the family team again, as my interest in the game has waxed and waned. This year’s been a bit different for a few reasons. Living in Melbourne has meant that I’m in contact with footy culture in a way I haven’t necessarily been before. I’m on a lot more footy trains by circumstance now, for example. The second reason is that I appear to be a participant in this culture this year, thanks to a certain Hufflepuff scarf that I received at Christmas from my boyfriend. I’ve worn it practically every day since the cold weather came in. It just so happens that Hufflepuff shares the same colours as my family team, Richmond Tigers. As I’ve joked to more than a few people, a witch can certainly blend in amongst the muggles when that’s the case. 🙂 The thing about wearing the scarf and being identified as a Tigers supporter is that footy is tribal. That rush of feeling that connects people is a powerful force. For me, that tribe is my family – so when I’m identified as a Tigers supporter, it connects me back to my first home and my family. Thanks to that and the shared camaraderie between supporters, I think I’ve become more of a footy follower / Tigers supporter than before. In a different way.

And maybe, just maybe – though I don’t want to jinx it – this is our year.

Yellow and Black!

Marriage Equality Essay

Last year I took a subject as an elective called Sex, Gender, Identity. It was an introductory subject that encouraged us to explore different aspects of those three things and how “the personal is political” (original quote author unknown). The final assignment for the subject was an essay which we could choose the topic from a list. I chose to examine marriage – the feminist critiques and marriage equality movement. The resulting essay gained me the highest mark I’ve ever received on an assignment. But more importantly, the research I did educated me about the topics and reaffirmed my stance on the issue. Below is an edited version of that essay. Please read.

I’ll note that I’m in a privileged position in writing this article. I’ve been raised in a heterosexual environment, I’m in a heterosexual relationship and I’ve had to learn about these things second-hand. So these are my opinions backed by evidence collected from academic sources as well as personal ones.

 

Marriage: an institution which involves formal recognition of the union of two people, conferring legitimacy on an intimate relationship (3). This formal recognition usually grants a range of social, religious and legal benefits, rights and responsibilities (3) and has existed in some form for centuries (14). At the moment, the most easily-recognised and legitimised marriage is monogamous and opposite-sex – it’s still considered the norm. Challenging this norm, same-sex marriages have begun to be recognised in many countries after the hard work and activism of advocates. For many, this is a positive step for LGBTIQA+ people and society as the gains are seen to outweigh potential negatives. However, other activists are not as sure, as they take a more radical view that marriage should be either changed completely or left behind together. I investigated these two competing discourses and drew conclusions for this piece.

Firstly, the positives. 🙂 It has been suggested that access to marriage is tied, metaphorically and/or physically, to full citizenship rights in society (9). Also, as the phrase, “equal before the law” suggests, in democracies, the law is a place where all citizens should be equal (8). Hence, marriage is seen as a pathway to acceptance and legitimacy, a way of demonstrating that what people feel for each other is real and valuable. A chance to throw a big party and show how much they love each other. The exclusion of LGBTIQA+ people could be and has been argued to be an intolerable discriminatory practice. It has been suggested that in order for LGBTIQA+ rights to advance, all formal barriers to full equality must be overcome (2)(4) before or while other steps are taken – like fixing anti-discrimination laws (10). Due to the prominence of marriage in society, it can be seen as symbolic of other rights and some have argued that governments which do not afford equal respect of and protections for both LGBTIQA+ and heterosexual intimate relationships enable and participate in systemic homophobia and heterosexism (4). It has also been argued that this inequality harms LGBTIQA+ people in substantial, material ways – from subtle exclusion to violence (1)(2)(4). I agree with this – I’ve read very compelling personal accounts from people over the last few weeks and before that (not to mention hearing the lived experiences of my friends) which demonstrate the truth of it (6) (11). I also agree with the contention that one way of combatting the harms is to work towards full equality, including in marriage, for all regardless of sexuality. Research shows that there are particular social, legal and psychological benefits to this.

Marriage can reinforce partnership bonds, facilitate parenting and generate levels of social support for those who participate (7). LGBTIQA+ participation in marriage widens the scope of marriage norms, as non-traditional roles and practices are expressed, intentionally or otherwise (1)(7), providing additional choices and freedoms. For example, with children. It could be said that the very presence of LGBTIQA+ people and families in so-called public spheres changes and destabilises the unconsciously accepted heteronormative view (1) of society. Hmm, maybe that’s why the conservatives get so grumpy about it. Well, they can suck it up, because change is a thing that happens. Changes to societal views of family and so on include what is seen as normal by children – everything from the gender of their parents and/or extended family members, to how gendered or egalitarian their household is. Research shows that in observing and learning about these practices and by educating each other, children become directors of change (1). After all, we’re products of where we come from, influenced by the personal world(s) we inhabit. And if those worlds are more equitable, so much the better. The presence of children also highlights discriminatory practices which occur within the current system which privileges marriage, particularly heterosexual marriage, over other relationships (4). To many LGBTIQA+ people, the idea of only being allowed something separate-and-different to marriage does not work if it’s not seen as legally and emotionally equal to it. Even if/when marriage alternatives were given equal rights, benefits, protections and obligations as marriage, it can be argued that LGBTIQA+ people are still discriminated against simply because they’re still unable to choose between marriage, a civil partnership, or something else (14).

But what about the feminist/queer case against marriage? Feminists have criticised marriage as being oppressive to women due to patriarchal structures of power for many years (14). These power structures are those which reinforce a socially conservative breadwinner model (5) – an opposite-sex relationship of mandated monogamy, working husband and dependent wife bearing the brunt of housework and child-rearing (9). If you think about it, this model has been – and still is – at the core of public policy for some time (5)(15). Non-traditional families – such as single parents, mixed-race partnerships, and LGBTIQA+ families – challenge the model. You can tell this from the way conservatives react. However, I’ve read concerns about whether the model is really being challenged (15). There’s an argument that marriage equality campaigns are being turned into binary debates of for and against. These leave little room for valid critiques of the social and economic institutions of marriage, and how the societal privileging of marriage marginalises other intimate relationships (9)(13). The argument continues that while the potential benefits of marriage should be recognised, the next or concurrent step should be to push for those rights to be expanded to all intimate consensual relationships. There’s a risk, activists argue, that not doing this would go against hard-fought-for feminist freedoms (12) and create a new tiered system within the LGBTIQA+ community of the socially acceptable marrieds held above the rest of the queers. This could lead to a reinforcing of conservative heteronormative marriage ideas, merely expanded slightly.

Despite this, there’s no question that many LGBTIQA+ people do want to get married (4), even as they recognise its pitfalls. Marriage as an institution isn’t necessarily seen as a good thing – but the equality before the law is (2). Marriage is a complex institution and we should resist the urge to press it into one box or another (5). If and when marriage equality becomes reality, then the contradiction of being separate-but-equal (13) is removed. It then becomes a choice for all, heterosexual and LGBTIQA+ alike, as to whether we’ll participate in marriage and how we could or would change the institution for the better. As it currently stands, some of the population have only a restricted choice and how is that choice then free or fair? Alongside this, we then work for the expansion of legal and economic protections, currently enshrined in marriage, to all relationships so that all intimate consensual relationships are valued (5). We could even go further and ensure that welfare rights are fair for all regardless of relationship, employment and monetary status (5). This then challenges the conservative understanding that defending the rights of women, LGBTIQA+ and other marginalised groups undermines committed caring relationships. At the same time, it dismantles the patriarchal heteronormative one-size-fits-all approach and works towards a more caring society, away from the outdated universal breadwinner model to a universal caregiver one. In this latter model, LGBTIQA+ people would be just as accepted for caregivers and caregiving as heterosexuals (5). This opens up possibilities for greater awareness on and attention to other intersectional issues. After all, attending to one issue does not prevent us from working on others and “those of us who are interested in fighting for justice and the flourishing of sentient beings in any of these contexts should be interested in fighting for justice in all of these contexts” (4, p. 77).

 

In other words, I’m in favour of marriage equality, as I’ve previously discussed. Btw, for me, my religious beliefs influence that view positively, as I’ve mentioned before as well. I’ll be unpacking that side of the argument soon too. If the postal survey goes ahead I’ll be participating in it and voting yes. I hope if you’re an Australian reading this that you will too.

If the postal survey goes ahead I’ll be participating in it and voting yes. I hope if you’re an Australian reading this that you will too.

 

References (these got a little muddled when rewriting this into a post, but I’d really encourage you to check them out):

  1. Bernstein, M. (2015). Same-Sex Marriage and the Future of the LGBT Movement. Gender & Society, vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 321–337, DOI: 10.1177/0891243215575287
  2. Bevacqua, M. (2004). Feminist Theory and the Question of Lesbian and Gay Marriage. Feminism & Psychology, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 36–40, DOI: 10.1177/0959-353504040300
  3. Budgeon, S. (2009). Marriage, in Encyclopaedia of Gender and Society, O’Brien J, (ed.), vol. 2, Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, pp. 505-508.
  4. Callahan, J, 2009, ‘Same-Sex Marriage: Why It Matters—At Least for Now’, Hypatia, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 70-81.
  5. Ferguson, A, 2007, ‘Gay Marriage: An American and Feminist Dilemma’, Hypatia, vol. 27, no. 1, pp.39-57.
  6. Gadsby, H. (2017, August 17). “Probably a good time to repost my anti-plebiscite piece…” Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fhannahgadsbycomedy%2Fposts%2F10155675309518000
  7. Green, AI, 2010, ‘Same-Sex Marriage: Lesbian and Gay Spouses Marrying Tradition and Innovation’, Canadian Journal of Sociology, vol.35 no. 3, pp.399-436. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org.ez.library.latrobe.edu.au/stable/canajsocicahican.35.3.399
  8. Harrison, JB, 2015, ‘At Long Last Marriage’, Journal of Gender, Social Policy and the Law, vol. 24, no. 1, pp.1-60.
  9. Josephson, J, 2005, ‘Citizenship, Same-Sex Marriage, and Feminist Critiques of Marriage’, Perspectives on Politics, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 269-284.
  10. Lawrie, A. (2017, July 29). A quick guide to Australian LGBTI anti-discrimination laws [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://alastairlawrie.net/2017/07/29/a-quick-guide-to-australian-lgbti-anti-discrimination-laws/
  11. Lawrie, A. (2017, August 9). 2,756 Days. Frustration and love [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://alastairlawrie.net/2017/08/09/2756-days-frustration-and-love/
  12. Marso LJ, 2010, ‘Marriage and Bourgeois Respectability’, Politics & Gender, vol. 6, no. 1, pp.145-53, DOI: 10.1017/S1743923X09990572
  13. Merin, Y, 2002a, ‘Chapter 2: The Changing Institution of Marriage and the Exclusion of Same-Sex Couples’, in Equality for Same-Sex Couples, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 6-60.
  14. Merin, Y, 2002b, ‘Chapter 10: Alternatives to Marriage and the Doctrine of “Separate but Equal” ’, in Equality for Same-Sex Couples, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 278-307.
  15. Wilson AR, 2010, ‘Feminism and Same-Sex Marriage: Who Cares?’, Politics & Gender, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 134-145, DOI: 10.1017/S1743923X09990560
  16. Young, C & Boyd, S, 2006, ‘Losing the Feminist Voice? Debates on the Legal Recognition of Same Sex Partnerships in Canada’, Feminist Legal Studies, vol. 14, pp. 213–240, DOI 10.1007/s10691-006-9028-8.

 

John Monash Concert Update

Well, look at that – the concert is two weeks away! O.O

Where did the time go?

LaTUCS have been rehearsing consistently for the past six weeks on our own (led wonderfully by our new conductor). This week we began the compulsory combined rehearsals – rehearsing with other community choir singers. So for the next few weeks, I’ll be at rehearsals for at least two nights a week. The final week (first week of September) gets a little frantic as we’ll have a Saturday rehearsal, three weeknight rehearsals then a final full day of rehearsals (one morning, one afternoon) before the actual concert. Whew! So if I seem a little busy, here’s why. 😉 After all, as of last Wednesday, I’m choir president now.

There are going to be many different community choirs – adult and children – participating in this. If you’re in Melbourne on the evening of Saturday, September 9th, why not come along to Hamer Hall? Tickets are on-sale now: https://www.artscentremelbourne.com.au/whats-on/2017/classical-music/john-monash-peace-concert

If not but you’re in the city this weekend, there will be a gold-coin-entry performance of some of the concert works tomorrow afternoon from 16-17:00 at All Saints East St Kilda, by a small contingent of the concert choir.

Maybe I’ll see you there?

 

Just over 24 hours to enrol/ change details!

Been busy lately. I’ll hopefully schedule some posts soon. Including some more detailed comments on a few political issues that have been blowing up a bit lately.

But for now: if you’re an Aussie, please ensure your AEC details are correct! The deadline is tomorrow at 18:00 (6 PM). I’ve updated mine to reflect my move at the start of the year. Are your details correct?

Check here: https://check.aec.gov.au/

Update your address here: http://www.aec.gov.au/enrol/change-address.htm

Enrol here: http://www.aec.gov.au/enrol/

Please make sure they are. And vote yes! I’ll give some arguments why later.

 

Miscellaneous 

It’s been a busy time lately, hasn’t it? I’d intended to write a few lengthier posts this week but so far, life’s getting in the way. 😉 Hopefully you’ll see them soon. In the meantime, here’s a link to the latest post of a great blogger whose archives I’ve been reading through: ahoy, Captain Awkward, boon to socially awkward people everywhere! 

Don’t forget to buy your John Monash Peace Cantata concert tickets

Register for MIV? It’s going to be heaps of fun. 

It’s a bit of a silly world out there atm. Make time for the things you enjoy and the people you love. 

Have a cuppa tea and a nice day, people. 

Lemon & ginger tea sits in a white mug with dark polka dots. It takes up the whole picture (handle faces right).

A half-finished lemon and ginger* tea that I made myself last night.


* = how the heck did predictive text get “hungover” from my starting to type “ginger”?? 

#MIV2018 Update: Main Concert Piece Announced! 

I’m so excited… I’ve been sitting on this for months. Speaking of months, #MIV2018 is only five months away! Have you registered yet?? 

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From the Convenors’ desk…
It’s cold, it’s dark, it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning. It feels like winter is here to stay, but fear not! MIV and the summer of ’69 is only five short months away. And this month we get to reveal our biggest news yet.

A huge amount of work is going on behind the scenes to organise an amazing festival, but we think there’s one thing that really takes the cake. Without further ado, we’re incredibly excited to unveil our concert for MIV2018. 

The centrepiece of this exquisite concert will be the Australian premier of Edward Elgar’s uplifting ‘Light of Life’

Conducted by our magnificent musical director, Patrick Burns, Light the Dark will be performed on the evening of Saturday the 20th of January 2018, at the Melbourne Town Hall for an audience of up to two thousand people. 

That’s right! Not only do we get to perform the music of a renowned and well-loved composer, but we get to be the first people in the country to perform a dramatic and awe-inspiring oratorio described as a “resplendent and moving” piece, filled with “fascinating orchestral and choral passages.”

If you want to have a listen, check it out here.

Registration is open.
In less than six months you could be taking the stage with us, a full orchestra and hundreds of fellow choristers to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime musical experience. But you must register to secure your place.

The summer of ’69 will be here before we know it. Register now to be part of the magic. We can’t wait to see you in Melbourne next year!

Peace and love,

Alex and El xoxo

Veggie Gravy

A while ago I had a few veggies I wanted to use up. So I found a recipe for veggie gravy.

Looks yum, right? The pink colour is due to the veggies I used.

Ingredients:

  • margarine
  • Finely chopped onion
  • Garlic
  • flour
  • soy sauce
  • water
  • salt and pepper

Tools:

  • Pot/frypan
  • Stirring spoon

Method:

  1. Melt margarine and cook onions and garlic until golden brown.
  2. Add flour gradually and stir continuously to avoid lumps.
  3. Still stirring, add soy sauce and water.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Reduce until gravy reaches desired thickness.

John Monash Peace Cantata Performance Announcement

If I’d remembered, I’d have put this up at the start of the day! As is, however, it’s here. LaTUCS (my choir) is going to be singing in a concert in early September as part of a massed choir. It’s going to be amazing!

It’s a performance celebrating the life of General Sir John Monash, the unusual general. Below is some context. 🙂 If you’re interested, the concert is on September 9th in the evening at Hamer Hall, Melbourne. It’s going to tour to other Australian cities for other community choirs afterwards! If you’re in Melbourne and surrounds, come along down to see us – tickets are selling fast so book now!

It’s shaping up well if I do say so myself. And we’re (re)learning a bit of history along the way too… The project is run by More Than Opera and will be conducted by David Kram. We’ll have soloists and an orchestra with us, the massed choir (adults and children). Be there!

*Hums Let There Be Peace under my breath*….hm, now I’m going to have the Cantata songs in my head all night. 🙂

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A world premiere event honouring Australia’s greatest son, John Monash.
Don’t miss out on being a part of this unique event!

A new documentary video for Peace – A Cantata for John Monash!
Who is Sir John Monash and why we set his life to music

0808 – Anniversary of the Battle of Amiens

On this day 99 years ago, Gen. John Monash led the Australian forces in the Battle of Amiens in France. The victory was a turning point in WWI which halted the German advance, and for which Monash was honoured with a Knighthood on the battlefield by the King himself. Monash used his incredible intellect and broad knowledge to utilise all available technologies in a concerted attack which resulted in the war ending sooner, and countless lives to be saved.

MTO honours this largely unsung hero with a grand concert worthy of the immense impact Monash had on Australia, and the world. This promises to be a memorable concert for everyone to know and understand the impact John Monash has had on this city.

6 pm, Saturday, 9th September 2017
Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne
Composed and conducted by Dr David Kram
Soprano: Lisa-Anne Robinson
Mezzo-Soprano: Kristen Leich
Baritone: Michel Laloum
Bass: Eddie Muliaumaseali’i
Massed adult and children’s choirs
Symphony Orchestra

Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to be a part of this world premiere event!

THE MAN, THE MUSIC, THE MOMENT

GET YOUR TICKETS NOW!