Guitar – by the sea and far away

Jack Hooker
Jack Hooker performs at New Brighton Library

Last weekend New Brighton customers were transported across the sea and far away on an exotic journey by guitarist Jack Hooker, playing original instrumental compositions.

This slight, elegant young man has developed an extraordinary technique which allows him to play separate melodies and percussive rhythms with each hand simultaneously.

A huge audience turned out to watch this mesmerising performance with almost disbelief, that one lone person could create such a rich tapestry of eclectic sounds ranging across folk, medieval and Asian grooves. At one point I could have sworn he was playing a sitar!

Keep your eyes and ears open for this young man. His palpable pleasure in playing and innovative ideas can only get better as he matures.

Fried mice and collard greens: an hour with Madhur Jaffrey

Book coverBorn in Delhi, trained in London, lives in New York, travels (and cooks) the world: Madhur Jaffrey’s bio and credentials could fill books (and has done).   On paper and on screen, she’s larger than life, but on stage at the Festival this morning, she is tiny, although she IS wearing what appears to be the Festival colour of choice shocking pink  (listen to the Friday night audio wrap-up for more details) which also match the endpapers of her latest book Curry Easy.

Chair Alexa Johnston began the conversation by stating that the best cookbook authors are those who stand beside us as we cook, and then said that thanks to Madhur’s TV shows, she could not only feel like Madhur was with her in the kitchen, but she could also ‘hear’ her voice giving instructions and suggestions. 

Over the course of an hour, we travelled not only all over the world, but all through time, with Madhur revealing her encyclopaedic knowledge of cooking,  food history, geography and immigration patterns – “everything is tied in”, she commented at one point.  Her anecdotes name-checked foodie greats from Julia Child to James Beard, and also recalled how she was the one to introduce studio greats James Ivory and Ismail Merchant. 

Skipping morning tea before this session turned out to be a huge mistake. Every second sentence referred to (mostly) delicious-sounding food – in one 20 minute block alone she referred to crab in tamarind sauce, Indian sago pudding, grils and collard greens, turkey, chillies, coriander, cardamom lamb, sushi, omelettes, pancakes, puri, parantha, pig-horse-cow-toad, and my personal favourite – fried mice.

There’s so much more I could write more about this amazing and talented lady, but I really really need to go and buy some lunch.  For some reason I am feeling incredibly hungry …

How to turn a library into a moving vessel

NZ Music MonthCustomers at New Brighton Library were silenced (a rare occurrence!) by a performance from members of the Silencio Ensemble. Metal poles, a sink, old shelving and a cymbal were played by an assortment of hammers, bows and sticks.

Chris, Mike, Reuben and Tom responded to the library’s architecture by suspending poles from the pipeline alongside the buildings main pillars, creating a musical experience for people to listen to from all parts of the building. The sound varied from temple-like tinkering to cacophonous metal hammering.

Customers displayed bemusement, confusion, fascination, curiosity, and horror. The rhythms of the waves coupled with the rhythm of the gongs within our ship-like structure made one person say that it felt like being inside a moving vessel.

This performance is a forerunner to a project being developed for the Christchurch Arts Festival in August. Live music performed by the Ensemble will accompany a screening of the 1948 silent movie, “Joan of Arc”.

Libraries ‘healthy, inspirational’ places

Atka Reid (left) and Hana Schofield

Authors Atka Reid and Hana Schofield were regular customers of Christchurch City Libraries for many years, and went on to write Goodbye Sarajevo, a remarkable tale of their family’s survival. I asked for the duo’s thoughts on libraries:

Hana said libraries were ‘healthy, inspirational places’ that were a way of connecting with the world. Atka said they are part of what makes you a human being; books, thinking – ‘not just collecting water and surviving’ – and that they create a love for learning. [1 min 23 sec, 1.2Mb .mp3]:

Remarkable, resilient sisters – Atka Reid and Hana Schofield

coverSisters Atka Reid and Hana Schofield and their family were sponsored by a Christchurch family to move to New Zealand from war-torn Bosnia 18 years ago. Their story, Goodbye Sarajevo, has just hit number one in the international besteller lists in New Zealand, beating out royalty in the process.

Christchurch City Libraries played a vital part in the book’s creation, becoming a virtual office for the pair as they put the book together.

In this nine-minute interview, Atka Reid and Hana Schofield talk about their book, family, perseverance, and the similarities between war and post-earthquake life. Atka is speaking first  [9 min 34 sec, 9Mb .mp3]:

Thursday @ the festival: New Zealand Listener Gala Night

LogoWell, what a start!  Famous names, famous faces; authors and playwrights, poets and journalists; Auckland’s literati out in force …  and us!

We finished rather late, but by the time you read this will still be feeling slightly buzzy with energy, as this truly was a great night out. In a slightly different format from recent years, 2011’s opening night featured the story-telling genius of eight world-class talents. Miriama Kamo introduced the line-up and told a story of her own, before Karen Healey took to the stage, followed in turn by Victor Rodger, Fatima Bhutto, Rives, Fiona Farrell, James Fergusson, A A Gill and Meg Rosoff.

Instead of reading from their most recent work, each speaker was asked to share a true personal story inspired by the alphabet. Stories ranged from the sublime to the gloriously ridiculous, from the deeply moving to the slightly dodgy, all told in the best storytelling manner. Chatting with Bookman Beattie afterwards, we all agreed that we could have stayed twice as long.

There’s not room enough to share every story from every speaker, but for those of you who would like to get a wee taste of some of the tales, and hear what we’ve got planned for Friday, please check out the report from Bronwyn, Catherine and myself  [13 min, 13Mb .mp3]: