Monday, May 17, 2010

Armidale: Books and Music

It's starting to cool down up here on the Northern Tablelands. I've invested in gloves and scarves and made sure the gas is connected -- a bit of a tricky exercise as this required dealing with a Wesfarmers subsidiary called Kleenheat which controls LPG distribution here. The LPG comes through metered pipes, though, so I don't have to worry about the cylinder running out.
The cold doesn't stop things happening. The Rotary Book Fair started this Saturday. It continues for a few days. I visited there with my colleague, Dr Jane O'Sullivan, and I was amazed at the number of books on offer. The racecourse had been given over to trestle after trestle groaning with books, all available for a fraction of their new prices.
The variety was incredible -- poetry, science, fiction of all descriptions, cooking, philosophy. It made me wish that there was a resale royalty on the second-hand sales of books, but I also happily purchased a number of books I'd been wanting for some time and now possess.
Sunday saw me in Lazenby Hall at UNE to hear the Armidale Symphony Orchestra (ASO) play. How many Australian towns boast their own orchestra? It was a shame that the hall was not packed to capacity, because the concert was excellent. Wendy Huddleston conducted and the three pieces played were inspired choices.
Borodin's Overture to Prince Igor started the event with a bit of a buzz. Then Deidre Rickards joined the orchestra on piano for Schumann's Piano Concerto in A minor. This was a first class performance, full of verve and energy.
The last piece played was the first Australian performance of Franz Berwald's Third Symphony. Berwald was a Swedish composer whose work was largely unplayed in his lifetime. This symphony was not performed until 1905, 37 years after Berwald's death. It was unusual in only having three parts.
But Huddleston and the ASO did the work justice. I want to hear more of Berwald now.
I walked home to turn on the gas heater and warm myself further with a bowl of soup.

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