Save me from the big ummm

CoverAs a very innocent and new minted teenage reporter, a now defunct newspaper sent me to interview a famous concert pianist. I can’t remember what I asked or wrote but I do remember shaking his hand and receiving the most terrible limp handshake. Of course the poor man was probably protecting his livelihood but it really threw me at the time.

Now I’m one of the excited, nervous, lucky people going to Auckland Writers and Readers Festival 2010 and I’m hoping like heck all the literary luminaries I might get to interview are nice to me. I’ve put my name in the hat to interview Thomas Keneally, Colm Toibin, Sarah Thornton, John Carey and Tui Flower among others – phew. Two famous writers I admire very much, a writer on contemporary art for the Economist, the Emeritus Merton Professor of English at Oxford and a pioneer of New Zealand food writers. I feel a panic-stricken ummm coming on if I’m in the same room asking questions.

So lots of reading and preparation beforehand. All those people who are taking the five book challenge – I’m sort of doing a festival five challenge. I’ll be out of my comfort zone writing for you the discerning blog audience, interviewing some of the big names, reading some of the books beforehand, going to a work in progress public reading of a new play (Dave Armstrong’s General Ward) and doing justice to all that I see and hear at the festival in the audio roundups.

One of the books I’ve read for the festival is John Freeman’s Shrinking the World; the 4,000 year story of how email came to rule our lives. I thought it was going to be a bit dry but I persevered and it made me think a lot about communicating in the age of Twitter, email, Stalkerbook (sorry Facebook – I got that from my family) and txting.

If anyone has questions you would like me to ask my interviewees please let me know.

Helen Webby – New Zealand Music Month

Helen Webby in performanceA full-sized harp is a thing to behold . Its size dwarves the human player and (get this ‘air guitarists’) the expanse of its strings requires the player to manoeuvre to reach the lower notes. Its profile is like the prow of an elegant sailing ship. But what exquisite sounds it can produce!

In the hands of the highly talented and internationally acclaimed Helen Webby it is truly enchanting and magical. Last night Fendalton Library hosted the first of Helen’s recitals for Christchurch City Libraries New Zealand Music Month line up of entertainment.

Her choice of programme ranged widely from a movement from the famous Harp Concerto by Handel, to Fields of Gold by Sting, a few Irish Hornpipes, Jigs and Reels and a couple of pieces she commissioned from New Zealand composers Rachel Clement and Helen Bowater.

Perhaps the most famous and familiar piece, the brief solo for harp from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, was mesmerising. Helen mentioned that hearing this piece on her parents’ record player at the age of 11 inspired her to learn to play the harp. Since then she has gone on to play for the Christchurch Symphony and NZSO, played in chamber music ensembles here and in Europe and has a very successful solo career.

On thanking her for yet again being a part of the Libraries’ Music Month entertainment she said that libraries were one of her favourite places to perform. This certainly comes out in the warmth with which she talks to her audience both during the recital and afterwards.  She performs again in our libraries during May and if you have kids to bring along it will put smiles on their dials!

Naxos Music Library: your soundtrack to Music Month

Naxos logoAre you a music lover looking to seek solace as we drift into winter? Welcome to Naxos Music Library – the most comprehensive collection of classical music available online. This enables you to  listen to a fantastic range of music on your home computer or in any of our libraries.

Figures At A Glance!
Disc Count: 41,568
Track Count: 595,690

Naxos Music Library includes the complete Naxos, Marco Polo and Da Capo catalogues of over 266,000 tracks, including Classical, Historical recordings, Jazz, world, folk, relaxation and Chinese music. Select works by composer, artist, period, year of composition, instrument or genre. Many of the recordings have comprehensive liner notes you can study while listening to the music. Other resources include opera synopses and libretti, composer and artist biographies. Five hundred CDs are added every month.

While the primary focus is on the standard classical repertoire, Naxos has a solid range of jazz classics, some blues, rock and contemporary jazz and an extensive range of world music. A bit of exploring reveals an eclectic mix – Douglas Lilburn, the Nixons, Bullfrogs, Pete Seeger, and the Bushmen of the Kalahari. Naxos also has a special section for children’s music with a charming introduction to classical music and instruments. A good way to get in early to convince them that “Rap” isn’t the only music out there!

Access this from home with your library card number and PIN, or at our libraries.