MIV2018 Festival Wrap-up

Hi all. It’s been a couple of weeks…but very good ones.

MIV2018 was a blast. So much fun. I challenged myself in a few ways,  participating in different social events in ways I hadn’t done during my last IV. Here’s an idea: participation pays off. I had a really good time and even won a few times at different social things – which I was not expecting. Participation would have been prize enough. Enthusiasm leads to fun!

I’m not going to lie, it was full-on. IVs always are, especially the first half. Rehearsals for six hours a day, then social events in the evenings. This time, being Social Secretary, a part of me was always busy – mentally or physically – making sure things were running smoothly. By the end of the day, I was quite tired and rather “peopled out” – unusual for me!

I loved organising the social events though. I really like being (one of) the host(s) and seeing people having fun, making new friends and participating – like I said above, it all pays off.

The rehearsals were really good – we had a really good conductor who engaged us well. Patrick Burns got us – or at least me – thinking about the music in particular ways and working together to produce the desired quality sound. We had sectionals where our assistant conductor Leonard Weiss worked with Pat and us in two halves – sopranos and altos in one group, tenors and basses in the other.

One thing I love about rehearsing and performing in big choral groups is the journey from a diverse group of voices just starting to learn the music, to a cohesive group who’ve learnt their parts and sound confident and powerful. It’s bloody fantastic and with IVs, the process only takes ten days! I remember the first time we started feeling really cohesive (for me) – I was singing along as we ran through a piece. I heard the rest of us singing and realised, “This is going to be a great performance.”

I was right. 🙂

We sang really well, if I do say so myself. We heard great audience feedback afterwards too. It was a real treat to sing the pieces – I don’t know if I can pick a favourite, but all have taken turns popping up in my head since.

Thanks, MIV2018.

(Click on the pic for a caption – they’re not in date order, just for fun.)

2017 Soundtrack 

It’s that time of year again, where I compile a list of songs that mattered to me this year.

1. Think of Meryl Streep (from FAME!) – due to a powerful political moment by Meryl Streep at the start of the year that I blogged about then.

2. Bread and Roses (and maybe also Power in a Union). First one is a folk song, the second is by Billy Bragg. They reference the Women’s March and surrounding politics.

The next are a bunch of love songs that speak to me. I first listened to them on Triple J and they remind me of feelings I felt then and feel now.

3. Thinking Out Loud (Ed Sheeran)

4. Say My Name (Tove Stryke)

5. I Want Something Just Like This (The Chainsmokers)

The next one is one of a bunch I heard when watching my first Eurovision Party this year.

6. Eurovision 2017:

Running on Air (Nathan Trent)

Lights and Shadows (O’G3NE)

Origo (Joci Pápai)

Where I Am (Anja)

My Friend (Jacques Houdek)

Grab the Moment (JOWST)

Story of My Life (Naviband)

Beautiful Mess (Kristian Kostov)

I Feel Alive (IMRI)

Yodel It (Alex Florea & Ilinca)

Gravity (Hovig)

Fly with Me (Artsvik)

Flashlight (Karsia Moś)

Amar pelos dois (Salvador Sobral)

City Lights (Blanche)

Don’t Come Easy (Isaiah)

Never Give Up on You (Lucie Jones)

Next are some from the concerts of the year:

7. Te Deum (from the MonUCS May concert, Choral Icons). First time I’d heard this song and I still remember it well. From the same concert, other standouts included Five Eyes and Vivaldi’s Gloria.

8. Peace/ Equip Yourself for Life, Pink Telegram, 0808, and other songs from the John Monash Peace Cantata – a highlight of the year and one I’m proud to have participated in. My only regret is that uni prevents me from participating in the overseas performance next year.

9. Pirates of Penzance (from MonUCS’ performance). I find myself humming songs from the production at times still. I’m not singling out any because they were all very good.

10. ETA: Mr Brightside (by The Killers). Purely because hearing it reminds me of the 2017 AFL Grand Final, with all its emotions. #gotiges

11. Finally, Christmas songs. This year, those include adapted versions of Winter Wonderland and White Christmas as for once they were almost appropriate. As well as “Green Book Carols”, from MIV carolling gigs and LaTUCS’ carols performance. Also the Vaughn Williams’ piece, Fantasia on Christmas Carol. I was reminded of the piece at the start of December and realised that I really had had a good year, as the last part of the piece hoped.

There might be more, but I think ten is a good starting point! Happy New Year everyone. I’m currently finishing this on a plane that’ll land back in Australia from Japan in a bit under an hour. I’ll post this then.

Keep an eye out for the rest of the Japan Trip posts this week and I hope you have a good year ahead of you. I reckon I do, but I know it’ll be busy too. MIV2018 starts on the 11th after all…

Merry Christmas to You

I haven’t yet had a chance to put together a complete version of days 4-7 of the Japan trip. Hopefully that’ll occur soon. Before a “days 8-11” post anyway.

Instead I’ve opened this draft about Christmas. It was originally going to be mainly a collection of Christmas songs, as I did last year, but then I got thinking.

Christmas and other Year’s End celebrations are a collection of rituals. There are the obvious thematic ones – religious and secular. Then there are the family/ cultural ones which are interconnected but distinct.

For example, I celebrate Christmas as a religious commemoration with Mass. While the way I believe has changed as I’ve grown up, being unable to continue the tradition of going to Mass at Christmas (and during the year tbh) would feel strange. So I’m glad we’re able to do it while travelling still.

Then there’s the secular side of things. Santa Claus promoting gift-giving and receiving with the “season of goodwill” – or season of consumerism! 😛 I follow the guide of “something to wear, something to read, something they want, something they need” when picking presents to give.

And the family traditions… each is different – and subject to change as circumstances change. Though this is where one feels a change the most.

When I was growing up, we’d open presents once everyone woke up on Christmas morning. We weren’t allowed to get up before 07:00 though. We might go to Mass at 09:00 or have gone the night before.

We’d have Christmas lunch at home and probably try out a few presents. The big event was in the evening. We’d head off to Grandma’s to see all the aunts, uncles and cousins on that side of the family. There’d be backyard cricket and games, plenty of talking and catching up, a large spread of dinner and dessert, then the family Kris Kringle.

If we weren’t at Grandma’s we’d have headed up north to see my other grandparents.

In recent years things have changed a little. I’ve moved away from the family home and I have a second family in my partner’s now too. I don’t know what the future holds, but last year had the feel of a new tradition being built. Not to replace the old entirely but to enhance it anew.

Then of course, there will always be years where circumstances are just different, full stop.

Like this year, where my Christmas might even be a white one.

Christmas carols

There are more carols than the following but here goes. Favourites

LaTUCS 2017:

Songs I learnt as four-part harmonies and sang with my choir this year.

  • Away in a Manger
  • Ding-Dong Merrily On High
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  • Good King Wenceslas
  • Hark the Herald Angels Sing
  • It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
  • O Come, All Ye Faithful
  • O Little Town of Bethlehem
  • Carol of the Bells

Others:

  • Silent Night
  • O, Holy Night
  • Sleep, Little Baby, Sleep
  • The First Nowell
  • The Shepherd’s Farewell
  • Fantasia on Christmas Carols (Vaughn Williams, a beautiful one I sang last year)
  • A Merry Christmas To You (/ Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)
  • O Come O Come Emmanuel

Japanese Christmas:

Went to 22:00 mass and everything was in Japanese. But the parts of the Mass were familiar, and some songs sung were carols. If I had had the phonetic writing of words instead of just the Japanese characters in front of me, I could’ve sung them as I knew the tunes.

  • Come All Ye Faithful
  • Angels from the Realms of Glory
  • O Little Town of Bethlehem
  • O Holy Night
  • Joy to the World

Tiger Roar

How was your weekend? 

Mine was fun! I attended a Game(s) Day event, where some of us watched the Grand Final and others played games (board-, card-, etc.). Both rooms were quite animated. 

I learnt a couple of new games – OrganAttack and Articulate. Fun with friends! But that was after the game… 

If any other team had been playing in the Final, I’d have been in the designated games’ room, popping my head in now and again as some did. But it was the Tigers (!) so I watched the whole game. 

The first half was tense and I found myself doing the “sportsball thing” of muttering things at players when good or bad things happened. Though mine weren’t often quite full sentences or even phrases.  

Things picked up in the second half and it was with a touch of amazement that I watched that unfold, slowly beginning to believe fully. Excitement flowed too. 

As I’ve previously mentioned, footy is a very family thing for me. It felt like that on Saturday and after – I was separated from them by distance but we kept in contact over text and internet. After the match, several people in my friendship circle made or received calls to people for the same reasons. 

The emotion of the game caught me at the end. I’d been trying to balance a mix of excitement and nerves all week (all finals season really), as I hoped for the best but was wary of being disappointed. But we Tigers fans were not disappointed (sorry Crows fans – I had thought it’d be a slightly closer game). The image that made it real to me in a sense was the beautiful image of Dustin Martin’s joyous face and then the group as they embraced. All the other scenes, tears of joy and happiness flowing. 

It felt good. That’s what it’s all about, really – the striving to reach the ultimate goal, time after time, and the sweet emotions of success when it’s finally achieved after a long time between drinks. I’m happiest for those of my friends and family who have felt that long time keenly. Plenty of happy faces around the place for a while I think! 

Hip hip huzzah for a wonderful Pirates concert

As my post on Friday indicated, on Sunday evening I went off to see The Pirates of Penzance by MonUCS. It was a fantastic show. As I reflected on earlier this year, there’s something really nice about watching your friends perform a great show, knowing that they’ve been working towards it for months. 

It was really, really fun. I’d never seen it before, which made it all the more special. It was both fun and funny, touching on themes of duty, family and choice but mostly just being a jolly good romp. For some time I’d been avoiding spoilers of songs and so on, but since the concert they’ve been running through my head, competing for attention. They were well-sung after all. Acting was also very good. I could tell people enjoyed themselves on stage just as we enjoyed watching them. 😉 

Afterwards (after packing up or “bumping out”) we went off to a choir member’s house for more singing, food and conversation. Fun! 

As I said afterwards, I’m so proud of all my friends. Well done! I can’t wait for the projects to come. 

The Fox and Fool – my friend’s new book!

My friend is an author. She’s got a new book out. I beta-read it a while back…so I’ve got a quote on the back cover! It’s a fun little read. Go buy it! Details below. 

I’m happy for you, Lauren… great work! 

Book cover for The Fox and Fool with a white star shaped flower in an earthenware pot resting on a blue patterned table-cloth on a table
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From Lauren: 

I’m delighted to present my latest book, The Fox and the Fool

From today, it’s available from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Barnes & Noble, Nook, Kobo, Smashwords and iBooks.

Official press release: 

This refreshing new novella from from Lauren K. Nixon celebrates love and friendship from the very edge of things. Sometimes in Illyria you find yourself in need of a friend, particularly among fools.

A gentle, strange romance between two people who spend their lives on the edge of things, set after the events of Twelfth Night. 

Things have settled quite amicably since the marriages of the two great houses of the town. But now there’s a new fool on the scene – and we are all fools in love.

“The Fox and the Fool is a delightfully romantic tale that sweeps you up in an instant and doesn’t let you down until you’ve savoured every last drop. Perfect for fans of Shakespeare, it will also appeal to anyone looking for an enchanting, uplifting read about love and life.” – Jessica Grace Coleman

“A light-hearted tale of fun, mischief and music – a story about the importance of friendship and brave vulnerability, all wrapped up in the setting of a Shakespearean town.” – Clare Keogh

Further information can be found on my website, http://www.laurenknixon.com/books

MonUCS Presents: Pirates of Penzance 

I’m going to see a show on the weekend and I. Can’t. Wait!! My boyfriend and a number of friends in a fellow university choir, Monash University Choral Society (MonUCS) are performing in a musical production: The Pirates of Penzance! 😀 I’ve seen some promo shots and it all looks so good… read on for a full description I grabbed from the public Facebook event. Tickets on sale now – see links at the bottom. 

Monash University Choral Society presents Pirates of Penzance! 

Join our rollicking band of pirates, police & beautiful maidens for a familiar tale of love, duty, and a surprising amount of orphans. Our production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s iconic operetta is a highly entertaining mix of ‘classic’ and ‘pop-culture’ jokes and freshly spun hilarity, which will surely engage both new & long term G&S fans alike. Follow the unlikely journey of young Frederic, who is ready to leave his pirating days behind him and learn the ways of the world (and its women). But the seas of life and love are seldom smooth sailing…

Our talented cast will leave you with a smile on your face, and a song in your heart. Book now!
Directed by Robert Dora & Helen Vice

CAST

Frederick – Naomi Hyndman

Mabel – Eloise Wilmann

Pirate King – Rohan Wilksch

Ruth – Alex Lewis

General Stanley – Nick Power

Samuel – Kevin Hendrey

Edith – Beth Stimpson

Kate – Angeline Seow

Police Sergeant – Daniel Yeaman
Ticket Prices

$30 full fee

$25 concession

Available for Purchase via http://www.trybooking.com/RODW

https://www.facebook.com/events/167070257187573/

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! 

#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