Will it snow, will it snow, will it snow?

Cranmer Square
Cranmer Square – 6 June 2012

Every winter is the same in our household.  He-who-loves-me asks, “Do you think is is going to snow in Christchurch this winter?”  Every winter I say, “Yes” and he says, “It never snows in Christchurch”.

However, I think statistics are on my side.  I moved to Christchurch in the winter of 1988 and every year, with the exception of two, there has been snow on our front lawn. Admittedly, it usually isn’t much. Some years we have struggled to find enough snow on the lawn to have a snowball fight; other years, we can make a snowman. The snow is usual gone by lunchtime.

There has been the odd occasion when the snowfall has been dramatic. The driveway has disappeared,  school has been cancelled and getting to work has been ‘an adventure’.  I try to be prepared for these events. I keep my boots handy so I can go outside without breaking my neck. Woolly socks are dug out of the back of the sock drawer and I make sure I have a good supply of DVDs and books.

Finally I check the Christchurch City Council web page for weather updates and road closures.

Icy fuschia Snow people frolicking in the snow
But can anyone tell me where my red gloves are, please?

Douglas Lilburn – Complete Electro Acoustic Works – free online New Zealand music

Douglas Lilburn (1915-2001) is considered ‘the father of New Zealand music’. In 1965 he created his first major electronic work in the studios of Radio NZ, our musical landscape was changed forever. Lilburn never looked back, and continued to work exclusively in electronic music (including founding Victoria University’s electronic music studio in 1970), until his death in 2001.

In Douglas Lilburn – Complete Electro Acoustic Works,  some works are purely electronic; others were inspired by the natural sounds of the sea or bush, or the writings of leading New Zealand writers such as Allen Curnow, Denis Glover and Alistair Campbell.

All the pioneering work that influenced later composers like Jack Body, John Rimmer and Phil Dadson is here: found sounds, sampling, spoken word, birdsong, self-generated sounds (banging on cans, for example) and so on.

So too are the exploratory techniques: splicing, filtering, and soundscaping using entirely synthetic materials. His first major electronic work, The Return, is here. It also includes ‘Five Toronto Pieces’, which features  a setting of Denis Glover’s Sings Harry – probably the first New Zealand electronic composition.

This album (and over 52,000 more) is available online for free from anywhere with your library card number and PIN.

For New Zealand Music Month we are featuring a daily dose of free online New Zealand music from Naxos Music Library and the Source.

Looking across Beckenham & Spreydon : Picturing Canterbury

Looking across Beckenham & Spreydon. Christchurch City Libraries, CCL-Arch887-074


The caged bird sings no more

Cover of I Know Wht The Caged Bird SingsI awoke this morning to the news that Maya Angelou had died. Immediately, I felt a slight twinge of shame – her books, especially her poignantly titled autobiography I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, have been on my to-read mental shelves forever and a day.

Yet the first thoughts about her that I could summon were a mundane mix: I knew that Oprah was a big fan of hers and that she had featured in the TV series of Roots (only because I had recently caught snatches of it while channel-surfing late at night – if you are wondering, she played wise old Nyo Boto in the episodes set in Kunta Kinte’s village).

While listening to the news, I discovered that Angelou was also the author of the famous quote:

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,

but by the moments that take our breath away.

But Maya Angelou was much more than that: she was a prolific writer, a poet, a civil rights activist, as well as a singer, a dancer, a director, and a producer whose life encompassed many varied experiences. Check out the following resources to learn more:

If, like me, you have yet to read Maya Angelou’s work, and the news of her death has spurred you into action, the library holds many of her titles. If you do plan to start with the bestselling I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, keep in mind that it is available both as an individual book and as part of her Collected Autobiographies. We also have a simplified and abbreviated copy.

If you have already read some of Angelou’s books, please do share your thoughts and comments. Did she affect you as she appears to have affected these readers who commented on I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings?

Cover of The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou   Cover of Letter to My Daughter   Cover of Mom & Me & Mom

Waxing lyrical about Poetry and Short Story Reference Center

Poetry and Short Story reference centreIf your knowledge of poetry amounts to dirty limericks written on toilet walls and you are still in recovery from the behemoth book that was The Luminaries then we have the electronic resource for you! Poetry and Short Story Reference Centre contains thousands of classic and contemporary poems, as well as short stories, biographies and authoritative essays on such topics as poetic forms, movements, and techniques.

It practically comes with a guarantee that once you start using it you will come over all wordy and enigmatic like Byron! Don’t know who Byron is? To the square for a public flogging I say.

 Poetry & Short Story Reference Centre provides:

  • Over 700,000 full-text poems, both classic, contemporary and international;
  • More than 51,000 full-text short stories;
  • Over 10,000 dramatic works;
  • More than 2,300 audio recordings of poets reading their own works and the works of other poets;
  • High-quality videos provided by the Academy of American Poets;
  • Over 450 explications of both classic and contemporary poems.

Expand your mind for pleasure or education with this resource that is available from home or in any community library. All you need is your library card number and password/PIN.



A Chaos of Delight by Eve de Castro-Robinson – free online New Zealand music

A Chaos of Delight by Eve de Castro-Robinson
is a collection of solo and chamber works by de Castro-Robinson includes Split the Lark, Small Blue and Tumbling Strains, while performers include Andrew Uren, Dan Poynton and Mark Menzies.

The first in my Chaos of Delight series of pieces based on birdsong, Chaos of Delight I requires the bass clarinettiest to trill, click, screech, book and roll in a virtuosic display of avian sonorities, using the full range of the instrument, from the boom of the kakapo to the shriek of the morepork and the bleat of the bush falcon. All these can be heard amongst sounds which exploit the unique characteristics of the bass clarinet, such as its uncannily high register, slap tonguing and multiphonics.

The title is taken from a passage in A Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand by Falla, Gibson and Turbott: there are still many quiet places far from the madding crowd, where the mind can become, in Darwin’s phrase, ‘a chaos of delight’ at the abundance and variety of birds which pass before the eye or perplex the ear.

This album (and over 52,000 more) is available online for free from anywhere with your library card number and PIN.

For New Zealand Music Month we are featuring a daily dose of free online New Zealand music from Naxos Music Library and the Source.

Introducing BWB Texts @ Your library

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BWB Texts offer a new form of reading for New Zealanders.

Commissioned by Bridget Williams Books as short digital-first works, BWB Texts unlock diverse stories, insights and analysis from the best of our past, present and future New Zealand writing. And they are now available at your library through our Wheelers Platform

Print is dead? You wouldn’t read about it!

Literary Reference Centre PlusRegardless if it is in electronic or paper format, the written word is everything. We communicate our thoughts, feelings and discoveries by writing them down and showing them to others. The format may have changed but content is everything. If what you have written is important then it will outlive you by a millennium.

A perfect combination of thought and format are literary databases. They are electronic but their goal is to gather the written word together within a searchable container. They may be online but they exist due to our enduring fascination with the written word. Perfect examples of this would be:

  • Literary Reference Center Plus: (New) From Austen to Zola and back again. Thousands of  plot summaries and author biographies and interviews. It also includes classic and contemporary poems, short stories and classic novels.
  • LitFinder: Full text poems, short stories, essays, speeches, plays, novels and more. Look for the poem  Still I Rise by Maya Angelou if you need your spirits lifted!
  • Poetry and Short Story Reference Center: Full text poems and short stories. Includes audio readings of poems.
  • Novelist Plus: The place to go if you are hunting down ideas for books to read. Includes thematic book lists, recommended reads  and read-a-likes.

This is but a sample of our literary electronic resources in the Source. All you need to a gateway of thought and  feelings is your library card number and password/PIN.

Aquarius: Music by John Ritchie – free online New Zealand music

A concert overture Papanui Road was commissioned for the Christchurch Symphony’s 25th Anniversary in 1987. The composer was John Ritchie, and Aquarius features a selection of works for string orchestra and full orchestra spanning thirty years of his life.

John Ritchie founded the John Ritchie String Orchestra and wrote much of his music in the 1950s and 60s for this group and the Alex Lindsay String Orchestra. This release marks John Ritchie’s 80th birthday.

Ritchie has created a body of work loved and enjoyed by performers and audiences alike for its deft craftsmanship and pleasing melodic grace.

This album (and over 52,000 more) is available online for free from anywhere with your library card number and PIN.

For New Zealand Music Month we are featuring a daily dose of free online New Zealand music from Naxos Music Library and the Source.