Music filling The Great Hall

The Great Hall and clock tower 1910

My first memory of the Great Hall at the Christchurch Arts Centre is of sitting my exams in it during the last year it was still operating as a university. It was cold and cavernous and I can’t help feeling that its later use as a wedding venue and concert hall was a much better one.

The hall has hosted a wide variety of music over the years. Off the top of my head I remember listening to Michael Houston playing his way through the Beethoven piano sonatas (on a grand piano that seemed a bit out of sorts), several Jazz School end of year concerts – in the days before the auditorium opened at CPIT – and various other jazz groups during the Christchurch Jazz Festival.

I remember one local singer who had to tell her instrumentalists which song was next as she went, even having to sing the first line to them on one occasion – I guess that’s called improvising. I always regretted that work hours stopped me from attending the Lunchtime Concert Series which featured so many talented musicians.

Victorian Gothic architecture is beautiful, but it has its limitations and the heating problems were never really solved. However, up to 250 people and a roaring fire in the big old fireplace used to at least make it seem warm in winter. The high ceiling and all that wonderful kauri panelling made up for the heating by providing great acoustics.

Due to earthquake strengthening the hall survived the September earthquake quite well and it was available for events and functions from 1 February 2011. Until 22 February that is. Let’s hope this special venue resumes its role in the city’s cultural life soon.

Reading it here and now

I have a number of favourite blogs and one of the best is Bookman Beattie.  He is the go-to man for news and views about the New Zealand publishing world and lots of interesting literary news from around the world. He is a fan of the New Yorker and gets a paper copy delivered. He recorded the cover (and the article) of the latest issue with some relish on his blog.

Deciding I had to read that article right now I went to our new catalogue. Typing in a search for New Yorker and clicking on the Full Text available link  gave me the option to select the issue I wanted from Ebscohost, and there it was – 2 May 2011. Scanning through the digitised content I soon came to the article Holy Matrimony! What a laugh. I think the writer must have dredged up every obscure fact and story in the wedding hysteria.

Our new catalogue has many other great features – keep lists of what you have read and what you plan to read, comment on books you have read and so on.  The other part of the equation is the link to our great suite of online resources The Source which gives library card holders access to a fantastic range of online information and resources.