Saturday, 22 April 2017

Asher Fisch and WASO: what is the magic formula?

It's Friday morning and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra are in rehearsal. Principal conductor Asher Fisch arrives at the podium and picks up his baton, which has been accessorised with a ping pong ball. He holds it up for the orchestra to see and joins in the general laughter.


It is four years into the maestro's contract with the orchestra and the relationship has produced quite incredible results. Fisch has an obvious camaraderie with the orchestra, but there's also a marked improvement in the string blending, a more cohesive warmth from the winds and brass and profound detail in the musical interpretation. In a recent Limelight review Fisch was credited with transforming the orchestra into the best interpreters of German romantic repertoire this side of Germany. How has he done it?

WASO tuning up for their Friday rehearsal.

I sat in on a rehearsal this week to discover the magical formula. The concert this weekend includes Mozart, Stravinsky and Sibelius, a welcome relief for those of us who have found Fisch's programming focus on Beethoven, Brahms and Wagner a little conservative. It was the final rehearsal but there was still time for Fisch to relate the last time he was on the receiving end of an orchestral prank: his baton was substituted with a sausage during a performance of Manon and he used the sausage to conduct the remainder of the opera. More laughter from the orchestra and then the rehearsal began.

Mozart's Symphony No 29 took up most of the session. Much of it was nuts and bolts; correcting bowing and articulation, checking balance. Fisch often deferred to assistant conductor Elena Schwarz who was sitting in the auditorium following the score. The assistant conductor position was created under Fisch's tenure and the Swiss/Australian Schwarz is the second recipient following on from Christopher Dragon. Fisch turned often to look for her nod of confirmation: "Can you hear the violas?"; "How is the volume here?"

assistant Elena Schwarz
Fisch's direction was energised and even-handed, leaping lightly from his rehearsal stool to give direction to a phrase. At times he would try out an articulation with the orchestra before marking it in their parts and there was a sense of working it out together. "Yes that is better don't you think? Write it in." He used words sparingly and effectively: "Don't take this personally but it (the andante movement) sounds like Versailles and the nobility are eating chicken. Too relaxed. Which is how it was back then, but I want more."

Fisch listened to the opening of the symphony from the auditorium before asking for two-thirds less volume from the second violins, viola and cellos. The tempo was already quite moderate and the softer tone gave a hushed expectancy before erupting into the fully fledged theme, exploiting the pristine acoustics of the Perth Concert Hall.

The opening eight bars of the Minuet and Trio were worked over in detail to get the exact rise and fall. At bar 26 he stopped again: the violins needed to take time on the dotted rhythm before landing on the trill. They played it again and this time it had lift and elegance. "Perfect". Gradually the often lightweight minuet movement was transformed into a deftly elegant dance. Again in the fourth movement a simple request for a more energetic upbeat from the violins meant the whole phrase bristled with energy.

Slowly the symphony took on a distinct shape. The clean simplicity of Mozart can be unforgiving but FIsch's attention to detail was paying off. This was Mozart so distilled so that, like a miniature painting, the impact was compact and vivid.

Rehearsing Sibelius Symphony No 2

During the break I chatted with assistant concertmaster Semra Lee-Smith who confirmed that the orchestral players are just as delighted as the audience.

"I've been here 14 years and the last six or so years have been amazing. Now the emphasis is more on the music."

She describes Fisch's opening concert with the orchestra when he performed as a soloist in a Mozart piano concerto as a turning point.

"He started as one of us. I have so much respect that he performed as a pianist with us first. It feels like he is one of us. And he allows us to make mistakes and will laugh with us. That is really important."

After the break the rehearsal continued with a
top-and-tail of Stravinsky's Violin Concerto featuring concertmaster Laurence Jackson as soloist (a little hard to recognise casually attired in jeans and sneakers!). Jackson's incisive rhythm and bright sound gave a shining clarity to the rarely heard concerto. The ex-Birmingham Symphony Orchestra concertmaster joined the orchestra in 2016 and is no small part of WASO's transformation. Quietly spoken, unassuming and with faultless musical intuition he is respected and admired by the players. They warmly applauded him at the end of the rehearsal.

There was just time for a few touch ups to Sibelius' Symphony No 2. This is the first time Fisch has performed a Sibelius symphony and it marks a departure away from standard German romantic repertoire. Fisch has often commented about the chemistry he felt with WASO from the beginning and the more adventurous programming makes it is clear that now there is also trust.

His approach to rehearsing Sibelius showed the same detailed faithfulness to the score with an instinctive ear for balance and dynamic contrasts. Nothing that magical then. But combined with a world class concertmaster, orchestral players who feel like they are integral to the team and an organisational structure that puts the emphasis on the music the results are consistently outstanding. Later in the year the focus will be on Wagner's symphonic repertoire and there is a Tristan und Isolde planned for 2018. But I hope Fisch continues to expand his repertoire choices because as far as I can see the sky is the limit.


WASO will give their final performance of the Sibelius, Mozart and Stravinsky program tonight at the Perth Concert Hall.


Thursday, 20 April 2017

Celebrity Soft Spot William Yeoman

William Yeoman is Literary Editor and arts writer at The West Australian newspaper.  His widely respected views on music can be read in Limelight and Gramophone magazines. Behind his dignified persona is a yoga-loving guitarist whose love of the arts is such that he will walk out of a rubbish performance. Will shares with us his thoughts on the much-maligned and desperately unappreciated role of the music critic.




What music gets your heart racing?

Vivaldi violin concertos performed at breakneck speed and with plenty of improvised ornamentation!

What calms you down?

Much of Ravel, Debussy and Chopin’s solo piano music, every time…

What do you sing along to?

Ella Fitzgerald singing Cole Porter, Finzi’s Houseman and Hardy settings, Bach’s Matthew Passion, Handel’s Messiah (of course!)

You are currently books editor at The West Australian plus contributing to Weekend West and writing features and reviews covering the classical music scene. You seem to fit three jobs into one – a mammoth undertaking! Why is it so important to you that the WA arts scene is covered in the newspaper?

There is something of Schiller and Schopenhauer in this, but I believe the arts are fundamental to civilization because they allow us the freedom to explore, experiment and grow our creativity in a way that benefits every other aspect of society. As I have written elsewhere, “no endeavour, whether scientific, political, social, economic, military or recreational, can be realised in a way that benefits every member of the community unless it arises from, and is inspired by, that creativity and freedom which only the arts can engender. The arts are not a luxury. They are a necessity.” Therefore the more we can do to support and promote the local arts scene through the newspaper, the better it is for everyone. And readers seem to be responding positively.

William Yeoman on Seven West Media's Travel Club
What does a day in the life of Will look like?

3am Meditation and creative writing
5am Breakfast and reading
7am-between 3 & 5pm: Work (writing, editing, administration, interviews, meetings) Lunch somewhere in there too!
After work: Yoga, dinner
Evening: guitar or piano practice, freelance writing OR concert if reviewing for the paper.
Before bed: reading, listening to music

Watch William in action conducting a hilarious interview with Helmut Wunderlicher here.


How do you select content and discern what readers are interested in?

I look for a) the most significant events from an audience perspective ie WASO, WA Opera; and b) the most unusual events which are nevertheless likely to expand someone’s understanding of the arts and should therefore be pointed out ie a concert of contemporary classical music or an avant garde opera. It is also important to take risks, not just with style but content. Your readers will let you know when you’ve got it wrong!

Why is it important to be reviewing concerts and productions? Is it to register the event on the public record or is it more than that?

A review is often the only record of an event, so it is important for that reason. But reviewers should also be able to contextualize a particular event for those who were there as much as for those who were not, retrospectively, and evaluate it in light of similar kinds of performances and similar kinds of music. I also believe reviewing is a form of literature which should educate, entertain and form an integral part of the larger cultural conversation.

Fewer and fewer media institutions around the world are covering arts and providing specialist reviews. Is music journalism a dying artform?

There has arguably been a decline not just in content but in respect for serious music journalism. But I think that as long as the quality of the writing, the quality of the knowledge and the quality of the ideas are strong and original, music journalism is here to stay.

Mark Applebaum says music should above all else be interesting. What do you think is the most important role of music?

See above – the role of music should be to challenge rather than console. But music has to be interesting first, because otherwise nobody will bother listening to it. Then it has to be original, challenging, well-crafted and philosophically and theoretically well-grounded. And hopefully still fun!

You have a soft spot for guitar. When did you first begin learning?

I started learning guitar at the age of 10 from a crazy Yugoslavian guy in Northam. I studied all styles and only started focusing on classical and jazz in my early 20s.

I remember when you were working at a Nedlands music store and moonlighting as a music critic after hours. Where did you learn the skills to be an arts journalist and make the transition to The West?

I suppose I had a modest talent for writing, and always read and wrote a lot from a young age. Studying Latin at university level certainly helped improve my grammar and develop a sense of style. But my time working in the Classical Music retail industry, both here in Perth and in London, proved invaluable for my arts journalism: apart from the endless hours of comparative listening possible in such an environment, nobody should ever underestimate the musicological knowledge and essayistic skills one can glean from the finest writers of CD liner notes. I’m thinking of Graham Johnson, for example. I was lucky enough to start freelance reviewing for The West about 12 years ago. I guess they liked my work enough to offer me a fulltime job as a staff writer when one came up! After that, it was onwards and upwards, as they say. I have always loved all the arts, especially music and the visual arts, and there is never any shortage of great arts stories out there.

Inside goss on the The West – the paper is losing pages and readers by the month. Will our local daily survive the rise of digital media?

This may have been true in the past, but more recently we’ve had more and more space devoted to the arts, which in turn has been bringing former readers back to The West while attracting new ones. I know this from the amount of feedback I’ve been getting, telling me precisely this! There has also been a noticeable levelling-off in the print vs digital arena, and it is no longer seen as a marriage of convenience – more a match made in heaven!

What is your favourite place in Perth?

New Edition Bookshop in Fremantle.

Do you have a soft spot for anything else in life or is it all about the arts?

I enjoy yoga and meditation too – though I suppose they are art forms in themselves as well!


Thank you William Yeoman for appearing on Celebrity Soft Spot. Follow William on Twitter @Sesquialtera  and in the arts pages of The West Australian newspaper.




Monday, 17 April 2017

International new music legends in Perth

First we had the American all-stars Eighth Blackbird, now we have the Russians and the Brits! It is an exciting time over the next few weeks as Perth welcomes some of the legends of the international new music scene.

British experimental musician and filmmaker Mike Cooper arrives in Perth this week for a 10 day residency with Tura New Music.

Mike Cooper. Photo Leila Buongiorno

A week of workshops, masterclasses and solo performances will culminate in the presentation of Cooper's genre defining live original soundtrack to the 1928 black and white classic, White Shadows In The South Seas. Audiences will be able to hear Cooper create vast sonic landscapes using his trademark Hawaiian Lap Steel guitar and electronics. He calls his music ambient electronic exotica style which is appropriate for a Brit living in Rome who collects Hawaiian shirts!

Cooper began his career as a folk-blues guitarist and singer songwriter and his output has expanded to include improvised and electronic music, live music for silent films, radio art and sound installations. He is also a music journalist, a visual artist, film and video maker and appears on more than 60 records.

Residency details:
22 and 23 April - Group Improvisation workshops at Subiaco Arts Centre
23 April 5pm - Workshop Showing, Subiaco Arts Centre
24 April 8pm - Solo set at iMprov Bar 459, Rosemount Hotel
26 April 8pm- White Shadows In The South Sea – Film and live performance PS Art Space, Fremantle.




The Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble will be arriving shortly after Cooper for a concert on May 2nd as part of the ensemble's first Australian tour. The group will perform as part of Tura's Scale Variable New Chamber Music series, providing a rare opportunity to hear Russian new music performed by their fellow countrymen. The program includes works by Russian composers Edison Denisov, Alexei Sioumak, Dmitri Kourliandski and Sergei Newski. plus the premiere of a new work by Australian composer Michael Smetanin.New Music

The group formed in 1990 and have since premiered over 800 works. The Perth line up will feature Ivan Bushuev (flute), Oleg Tantsov (clarinet), Mikhail Dubov (piano) and Vladisal Pesin (violin).

Tickets are available here.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Wood meets Metal in a night of Aussie/German percussion theatre

I managed to snap a selfie with composer Kate Neal last night at the world premiere of her work Never Tilt a Chair. The work sat most satisfyingly alongside Mauricio Kagel's iconic Dressur which was receiving it's long-overdue Australian premiere.

with composer Kate Neal

Hooray for Tura New Music and PICA for bringing it about. I am impressed again by Louise Devenish  - yet another awesome contribution to the Perth new music scene, with the support of her fellow leading theatre-music percussionists Leah Scholes and Vanessa Tomlinson.  I love concerts like these: so much to see, so much to hear.


The set for Never Tilt Your Chair

Leah Schole, Vanessa Tomlinson and Louise Devenish

My review is published by Limelight here.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Kate Miller-Heidke and WASO

Kate Miller-Heidke’s national orchestral tour is a polished package. The tour (which includes Sydney, Brisbane, Hobart and Canberra) features Miller-Heidke’s guitarist husband Keir Nuttall, classy orchestral arrangements, a slick sound and lighting team and visuals by video artist Amy Gebhardt.


The WA Symphony Orchestra was the first to sign up for a show with the classically trained opera turned indie pop singer after her Helpmann Award-winning orchestral debut with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra last year. WASO has sizable experience in the crossover genre from collaborations with the likes of The Whitlams, Katie Noonan, Tim Minchin, Chick Corea and many others over the decades. Under conductor Benjamin Northey the components came together seamlessly with the versatile Miller-Heidke at the epicentre, part pop princess and part operatic diva.

The concert attracted a sold-out audience of fans to the Perth Concert hall and Miller-Heidke walked on stage to rapturous applause. The opening number Bliss was unsettled - a rushed beginning and balance issues between orchestra and an overly amplified soloist – but as the orchestra melted from pizzicato to lush chords and Gebhardt’s cloud images floated by Miller-Heidke’s voice softened into ethereal shades.

Benjamin Northey ran a tight ship steering a sympathetic orchestra. The songlist spanned the breadth of Miller-Heidke’s output and her theatrical writing style was enhanced further by the orchestral accompaniment. In O Vertigo the bird-like coloratura vocal line was echoed joyfully by the flute while the strings and percussion rocked along with Nuttall on guitar. Mama, arranged by Northey, had echoes of Queen with vocal screams, heavy rock drumming and dense string backing.  In contrast the acoustic version of Caught in the Crowd had a folk narrative style that brought to mind The Waifs. The lilting arrangement of In The Dark was particularly effective with a brass chorale creating a moody lullaby.


Two songs from The Rabbits, an opera written in collaboration with Iain Grandage, revealed the immaculate vocal technique underpinning Miller-Heidke’s spinto soprano with feather-light scale passages, an earthy low range, steely top notes and a wide vibrato. The arrangement of Where was particularly stunning with pastoral woodwind, strings and moments of cinematic vastness.

Gebhardt’s videography included slow motion images of nude bodies and Andalusian horses, evocations of beauty, power, gentleness and freedom that worked particularly well with more spacious numbers like Bliss and Last Day on Earth.

Miller-Heidke’s irreverent sense of humour, expressed musically in songs like You Underestimated Me, Dude and Are you F*cking Kidding Me manifested onstage in banter with the orchestra - who apparently party harder than rock n roll artists - and droll stories about touring and family life (their son Ernie was described as their latest release arriving ten months ago). Miller-Heidke’s wit will be put to the test later in the year with the debut of her first musical Muriel’s Wedding: The Musical.

Nuttall delivered several generous guitar solos, including an extended improvisation in Johannes Luebber’s jazz-inflected arrangement of Words revealing impressive guitar chops. Jazz licks morphed into heavy rock grooves and even flamenco theatrics, laden with effects from the mixing desk. In fact the sound engineers were busy all night adding often overt effects to both the vocal and guitar parts.

It was a night richly laden with artistry and entertainment. Miller-Heidke can add another feather to the proverbial cap, although she would probably prefer a flamboyant headdress.


 This article first published in Limelight magazine 2017.

Monday, 27 March 2017

April Gig Guide

The WA Academy of Performing Arts is in full swing this month. Concerts include Clocked Out Duo percussion stars Vanessa Tomlinson and Erik Griswold performing on the 4th and renowned English conductor Nicholas Cleobury leading vocal students in a performance featuring Tippett's Negro Spirituals on the 6th.

The school of music at UWA is also hitting full steam with a Mainstage Concert on the 9th featuring Shaun Lee-Chen and the student orchestra performing a world premiere by jazz composer Joe Chindamo. On the 28th the Schoenberg Project will feature student arrangements of Schoenberg's Six Little Piano Pieces plus an arrangement by Brett Dean from when he was a student - it could be very revealing!

Thank you Louise Devenish for this update: On April 10-11th an unusual gig at PICA called Never Tilt Your Chair Back on Two Legs brings together three of Australia's leading female percussionists for Maurice Kagel's music theatre piece Dressur.  Set at a formal dinner table, the theme of dinner time etiquette will also be explored in a new work by Kate Neal.

The Australian String Quartet take over Margaret River from the 21-23rd for a Chamber Music weekend - what's not to love?!

The WA Symphony Orchestra go retro with The Best of British on the 7th before a Sibelius fest on 20/21/22 with Asher Fisch conducting the second symphony and concert master Laurence Jackson in Stravinsky's Violin Concerto. On the 28/29th the Zuckerman Trio join the orchestra for Beethoven's Triple Concerto with Pinchas Zukerman also featuring in Berg's Violin Concerto.

Let me know if I've missed anything. See you at a concert soon!





Monday, 20 March 2017

Celebrity Soft Spot Carolyn Chard

This year the West Australian Opera celebrates its 50th anniversary and at the helm is Carolyn Chard, general manager for nearly two decades. Carolyn worked in arts management across multiple platforms in Perth before discovering opera. She shares a glimpse of the inner workings of the company and why 'music is the strongest form of magic'.


What music gets your heart racing?

Dance music with a heavy beat, the kind you feel in your body on a dance floor.
Beautiful music, music that speaks to your soul  (too many to name plus depends what mood I am in; today maybe Parsifal overture, Mahler 5; tomorrow I would name others). Some renditions of Ave Maria just melt me; at other times I dissolve listening to Nick Cave’s Into My Arms.

What calms you down?

Massage
Walking on the beach
Beautiful music

What do you sing along to?

‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams (although you don’t want me to).

This year WA Opera celebrates its 50th year. The company has been collecting stories and memories from past cast and audience members. What have you learned about WA Opera from these?

That there is an appreciation for the company and a memory bank that is very personal and individual to many patrons; that the company has made an impact on collective memory. The stories are all on the website and worth reading at waopera.asn.au.

Carolyn with the ‘hero image’ marketing team


What is the role of an opera company in a city like Perth?

To present the artform in a beautiful theatre, to maintain the tradition of grand opera in an isolated city.

You walk something of a tightrope balancing traditional repertoire with bold contemporary repertoire like new works by Richard Mills and Iain Grandage. How do you navigate the responsibilities of expanding your audience while also retaining traditional subscribers?

It’s a risk every time and actually hard to navigate or balance through the level of risk you are willing to expose the company to. How do you measure what that success looks like? Is it financial success at the box office? Artistic success? What if you have one without the other? Is it still worth the investment event at the cost of forgoing other work?

The WA Opera team is a small family. International singers often talk about the warm welcome they receive when performing here. What is special for you about your team?

I try to engender a caring culture where we welcome and look after people, Many years ago a theatre director pointed out to me that we trade in human emotion, that’s our widget, our product. It means that we have to look after that carefully and that boils down to looking after people. I work with some wonderful, committed, energetic and enthusiastic people who love the company and the theatre, who have a passion for opera and who take great  pride in our singers, our chorus, our creative colleagues and WASO musicians.

In your other life (before opera) you were in banking and fashion design. You worked in management roles for Barking Gecko and Deckchair before heading into opera in 2001. What was the appeal of opera?

At Wesfarmers Centenary Dinner with her daughter
I studied fashion design. I worked in banking. I promoted bands, events and DJs in clubs during the dance music and rave scene in the eighties and nineties (The Prodigy, Blackbox, Kevin Saunderson, Dream Frequency, Sasha). I did the arts management degree at WAAPA and moved into theatre management at Deckchair Theatre and Barking Gecko Theatre (during this tenure we established the Awesome Festival). I worked with Black Swan Theatre, Perth Theatre Company and Kulcha. I met Richard Mills when we co-produced the Britten children’s opera Noyes Fludde/Noah’s Flood and he encouraged me to consider the management role with opera. He taught me much about the artform and engendered a passion for producing and presenting opera. I worked with my Australian opera colleagues at Opera Conference and was invited to a dual senior management position with Opera Australian based out of Sydney and Melbourne offices. I was invited to resume the general manager’s role with WAO when my successor moved to the CEO position with WASO.

What are you proudest of in your years with WA Opera?

I have worked in opera now for almost two decades, in two stints as General Manager with this company split by a few years with the national opera company based out of both Sydney and Melbourne. I am proud of presenting and producing two of Richard Mills’s works, both new operas with the Perth Festival – Batavia, which was commissioned by Opera Australia as part of the Centenary of Federation and first presented in Melbourne in 2000, and The Love of the Nightingale which was part of the Wesfarmers Arts Commissioning Series. Both operas were composed and conducted by Richard Mills and both directed by Lindy Hume. They had a special rapport which translated well on stage. On opening night of Batavia in Perth the CEO of Opera Australia turned to me and shook my hand and congratulated me on getting the work into the theatre and onto the stage (it was a production that I had been told ‘would not fit the Maj’ and, with my clever Production Manager Mandy Farmer, we found a way to store some of the scenery between Acts in containers on the street)

You are one of a very few women heading up an arts company in WA. Any ideas why there aren’t more women in management roles?

Sometimes it just cyclical – there have been times when the four major companies in WA have been headed by women. Right now three of the four majors have women leaders (Nat Jenkins at Black Swan and Jess Machin at the ballet while my predecessor Craig Whitehead heads WASO).

WA Opera's first mainstage production for the year is opera Tosca which opens on March 28th with Antoinette Halloran in the title role, Paul O’Neill as Cavaradossi and Teddy Tahu Rhodes returning as Scarpia. Perth audiences last saw Tosca in 2011. What does this New Zealand production by Stuart Maunder have to offer?

Stuart is a wonderful colleague with great insights into character and story as well as understanding the music and the genius of it. For this particular season Stuart and I actually negotiated a production swap – he has enabled us to present the New Zealand Opera production of Tosca which he directs and I have enabled him to take the WAO Lindy Hume production of Carmen so effectively we swapped productions.

Teddy has sung Scarpia here for me before and I am so pleased that we have Antoinette in her debut with this company – and in role suited so well to her – and also delighted to welcome Paul O’Neill back after many years in Germany (he left as a young man and has returned, with his beautiful family including four children, to make his home base in Western Australia again)

Mark Applebaum says music should be above all else be interesting. What do you think is the most important role of music?

I think music should make you feel. Or just ‘does’ make you feel.

I love a quote from Marilyn Manson that ‘music is the strongest form of magic’.

I mentioned the song ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams and there’s a quote from Rusty Rueff contemplating why that song become such a global hit; he said ‘I think its because at the time the world was looking for something…we were recovering from a recession, war and many other things…and we needed a movement of hopefulness that allowed us to stop the madness for a moment and pick us up. Will it be timeless? Maybe for the generation who were in the heart of the trouble. Maybe they will reflect back on this time and remember this song and make it timeless’.

Where did you learn the skills to manage an opera company?

I did the three-year arts management degree at WAAPA which, some twenty five years ago, included foundations of law, economics, human resource management, marketing, business management in the main ECU stream as well as full involvement in arts campus life doing front of house, publicity, ticketing and so on. Before that and after that it was about learning on the job. Plus I think you need a natural aptitude for the skills required. You need to have a passion and love for the work each day. The hours are long and there is no corporate paypack so it’s usually an intrinsic reward we chase.

You were involved in the #artsmatters push to get arts into the pre-election political debate. What’s it going to take to get arts on the radar of our major political parties? 

The central premise of that campaign is very simple; that the arts matter. The arts matter to all of us. We all need to lead on this. Everyone is impacted by the arts. It’s up to each of us to engage, promote and participate in the arts, all arts: performing arts, visual arts, literary arts, music, film, design, libraries, dance, comedy, circus, puppetry, mime, books, magazines, apps, games, fashion, writing, singing, dancing, acting.

With a new state government we have a fresh start to engage. I want everyone to get the message that so many others articulate better than me:

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life
 (Pablo Picasso)

Art is the only serious thing in the world
 (Oscar Wilde)

If we, citizens, do not support our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination on the altar of crude reality and we end up believing in nothing and having worthless dreams 
(Yann Martel, Life of Pi)

Running through Melbourne streets to an Opera Australia meeting.

What do you have a soft spot for?

I love words and music. Two of my favourite quotes are from The Little Prince: ‘The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart’. And another, which to me applies not only to music but to values I hold true like kindness and truth and love, is: ‘And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye’.


Thank you to Carolyn Chard for participating in the Celebrity Soft Spot series. Tosca opens on March 28th. For more information go to WA Opera