A feast of Sibelius

The anniversary of Sibelius’s death may have passed relatively unnoticed, but the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra chose to honour him with a full programme of his music last weekend. Perhaps this is because Maestro Jari Hamalainen, one of the newest conducting stars to come out of Finland was conducting (check him out on YouTube. ) Attracted though I was to hearing Sibelius conducted by a fellow Finn, I had never been to a concert featuring the works of only one composer before, especially a composer whose works I am not very familiar with. Would I be bored with Sibelius by half time I wondered? The answer is a resounding no. In fact it was a very satisfying experience, like having a three course meal of  Sibelius so to speak.

 The experience was helped along by the riveting performance of the violin concerto op .47 in D minor by the young Bulgarian violinist Bella Hristova, the 2007 winner of the Michael Hill International Violin Competition. I will certainly be looking to see where her career takes her. Unusually she has not only already won number of prestigious prizes, but has she also featured in O, The Oprah Magazine and Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion, so it could be an interesting journey. If you would like to hear her play try the Naxos database on our website.

Christchurch City Libraries Image of the Week!


Did you know that Christchurch City Libraries have an image collection? You will now, because every week we are going to post an image for your viewing pleasure. If you see something you like just complete this form and you can order a copy to frame, gift, collage… you get the idea. If you have any further information on any of the images, or if you would like to donate images to our collection please contact us.

My Man Magnus Mills

The other day I was checking if any of my fave authors have new books out. 

Dan Rhodes? Nope.
Peter Ackroyd? Yes! A big juicy book on Venice.


Everything is here: the merchants on the Rialto and the Jews in the ghetto; the mosaics of St Mark’s and the glass blowers of Murano; the carnival masks and the sad colonies of lepers; and, the doges and the destitute and the artists with their passion for colour and form – Bellini, Titian, Tintoretto, Tiepolo. There are wars and sieges, scandals and seductions, fountains playing in deserted squares and crowds thronging the markets.

Sounds tasty.

And a new book called Maintenance of the headway by Magnus Mills! Ah Magnus. Thomas Pynchon called him a demented, deadpan comic wonder. And he ain’t wrong. The Mills humour is so dry it’s positively desiccated. His unique style features pithy tales laden with black humour where people are pitted against mad processes. Bureaucracy gone mad.

For a good example of this,  there’s his book  The Scheme for Full Employment. The Independent reviewed it thus:

The story concerns a mythical Scheme whereby people are employed to drive “Univans” around all day, delivering and picking up crates. The narrator is on a circuit of seven depots and spends eight hours a day shuttling back and forth. It’s only about a third of the way through that we discover what’s in the crates: spare parts for the Univans. The work is light, agreeable and well-paid, and everyone’s very thankful to be on the Scheme: “It’s like being in a great big feather bed.”

Much is made of the fact that Brummie born Mills once drove buses for a living (read all about it in the article Why my career is back on route). And find out more about Magnus from his publisher Bloomsbury.

I reckon there’s a shortage of authors writing funny stuff so Magnus is a real catch. Can’t hardly wait to read his newbie.