Here is a baker’s dozen of titles hot off the press from RBDigital Magazines. Perfect for a spot of weekend reading – on your laptop, desktop, phone, tablet …:
Here is a baker’s dozen of titles hot off the press from RBDigital Magazines. Perfect for a spot of weekend reading – on your laptop, desktop, phone, tablet …:
This Saturday I’ll be heading down to the former residential Red Zone in Dallington (on the corner of New Brighton Road & Locksley Ave) with my kids in tow, picnic, rug and chairs for the biggest annual specifically Pacific event this side of the Cook Strait. Saturday will see 730-odd performers from 19 secondary schools from Nelson College all the way down to Ashburton College take the stage to showcase the hours of hard work they have put in to refining every last movement and note.
This event has grown from strength to strength in the past few years with the hard work of some very dedicated teachers, parents, volunteers and agencies. The Pasifika population holds the youngest median age in the diverse populations of New Zealand, so it is best fitting that our Pasifika youth celebrate this on stage.
For a taste of what to expect you can view videos of performances from previous Polyfests on YouTube.
Make your way down to the red zone and expect to have your senses assaulted as you witness the graceful movement, rhythmic drums, enticing scent of warm coconut buns and chop suey, and the “chee-hoo!” of Pasifika celebration. Check out the performance order to make sure that you don’t miss out on your favourite group!
Jan-Hai Te Ratana
South Learning Centre
Tonight I had the delight of watching Tosca, performed by New Zealand Opera. In the spirit of joy and discovery, I brought along my mother, who was lucky enough to have this be her maiden voyage to Puccini’s works. Indeed, I would have her begin her experience with no other. Love and jealousy, deceit and more than a little stabbing, Tosca embodies everything I love about French drama and Italian opera.
Tosca is originally set in Italy in the early 1800s (in this performance, still in Italy, but pushed forward to the stylish 1950s). It focuses on the diva Tosca, her lover, Cavaradossi, who is accused of helping a prisoner escape, and the devious Scarpia, the Chief of Police, who desires Tosca and sees an opportunity in her desperation when her lover is arrested. The more modern setting was very tasteful, the ominous mafia undertones fitting almost too well with the political pressure within Italy, certainly connecting the audience more than Italy’s situation in Napoleonic times.
Favourite character? Scarpia, of course. His leitmotif looms ominously throughout, providing dread from the moment the curtain rises. Teddy Tahu Rhodes provided a brilliantly full sound, and stole the show for me. His embodiment of Scarpia continually drew my eye back to him, commanding and leaving others in his shadow (at times, literally, due to clever stagecraft).
Favourite song? Lucevan Le Stelle. I sniffled my way through it, and even my mother had her eyes prick with tears in the heartfelt rendition by Simon O’Neill as Cavaradossi. His vocal performance of this piece was especially superb, the pauses speaking as much as his smooth and soaring phrases. You can have a taster of this in O’Neill’s 2015 performance in the video below.
Favourite moment? Spoiler alert: Tosca’s dramatic end. Nothing says defiance like jumping off a prison tower, crying ‘See you in hell, sucker’ (*ahem, not an exact translation). Orla Boylan provided a Tosca that was funny, believable and heart-breaking, with a voice and costume selection that delighted my diva-prone heart.
Kudos, of course, to the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, whose accompaniment outshone every production of Tosca I have watched. The mark of an excellent supporting orchestra is its seamless interactions with the performers, heightening the emotion and not overwhelming, which the CSO accomplished. The Freemasons New Zealand Opera Chorus featured as well, supporting with a variety of characters, and a fair few familiar faces to the Christchurch musical theatre scene.
All in all, a brilliant night. It definitely makes me want to go and reread my copy of Scarpia by Piers Paul Read, which provides the story from the perspective of the notorious Baron.
As someone who loves opera, I would highly recommend the experience. The show runs from 8 to 16 March.
Nothing is as quite as good as music for transporting you back to past times of love, loss, and the gaining of life’s experiences. I know that most of my childhood can be most effectively measured musically!
I was suitably shocked to learn that ‘Simply Irresistible’ by Robert Palmer featured prominently in the New Zealand charts waaaaayyyyy back in 1988! I still remember vividly that steady rock beat, the simple, punchy, and catchy tune, the stabby brass section, and those almost-very-nearly-identical dancing/band girls – an astonishing coming-together of style and substance built to last (complete with that awesomely syncopated drum fill that inspired the young drummer in myself!) – it’s in your head right now isn’t it!?
And that got me to thinking, “I wonder how many other standout classic tunes that, just like me, are maybe getting on a bit?” and “I wonder what other songs were around at the same time as ‘Simply Irresistible'”? Turns out that 1988 was a bumper year for iconic music!
So I made a list to share with you all – I’m referring to it among my colleagues as “A Musical Nostalgia Trip” to avoid having to feel too old myself! This is by no means an exhaustive list of the quality of music back in 1988, merely a list of tunes to hopefully trigger some nostalgic thoughts and memories, and maybe even prompt you into some nostalgic musical discoveries of your own!
There’s some big hitting songs in here so if you remember them from 1988, maybe go easy and have regular cups o’tea…
All of these songs listed here could be considered classics and, in some cases, so can the albums that featured them. And as always with music there are so many ways to experience the world of sound, so in this list I offer you CDs, artists’ biographies, live shows on DVD, music press articles, and printed music so you can play them yourself! Get borrowing and set off singing along your own musical nostalgia trip!
Bad – Yep, we were groovin’ to ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’ 30 years ago this year. In fact, the first week of 1988 saw the great song at #6 on the NZ charts! Great tune, so cool, and still so good after three decades!
Michael Jackson – MJ sure did release some amazing music. This book looks behind the scenes during the making of ‘Thriller’, with exclusive photographs and insights.
The Very Best – INXS were big in Australia and New Zealand. ‘Never Tear Us Apart’ was, and still is, a massive hit, reaching #11 in Aus and #30 in NZ and still one of their very best – hard to believe it was 30 years ago though….
Best of INXS – Why not celebrate the 30th birthday of ‘Never Tear Us Apart’ by learning to play some of INXS’ other hits! This is music in P/V/G – that’s to say it has music for piano/vocals/guitar to play the tunes listed – get playing!
Rattle and Hum Songbook – We’re getting all kinds of opportunities to learn to play these songs that we were rockin’ to 30 years ago this year, including ‘Desire’ by U2! Hey, if the Edge can do it then so can you…
U2 – The latest telling of the U2 story, they gotta mention ‘Desire’ in there somewhere, right?!?
Faith – Has there ever been a more widely celebrated breakout solo album than ‘Faith’ by George Michael…!?!? The title track was the first #1 of NZ’s 1988 calendar year! Give it a spin to mark the occasion, and listen without prejudice!
George Michael – The most recent account of the life of the iconic singer/songwriter penned by a writer who has all the skills in producing engaging biographies.
George Michael: The Lone Star State. By Adrian Deevoy, Q, Jun 1988. Part of Rock’s Backpages.
Access All Areas – Big hair, slow-mo dancing, oversized and off-the-shoulder cardies…and Belinda Carlisle – it must be 1988! ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth’ turns 30 in 2018.
Belinda Carlisle – Heaven Is A Place On Earth. Official video. Released in 1987, taken from Belinda’s album ‘Heaven On Earth’.
Guns N’ Roses – What a debut album Appetite for Destruction was for the band Guns n’ Roses and the standout commercial track on that album was definitely ‘Sweet Child of Mine’! That iconic guitar riff, the snake-like dance moves of Axl Rose – all that hit up to #7 in the NZ charts, 30yrs ago!
Guns N’ Roses: Dancing with Mr Brownstone. By Paul Elliott, Sounds, 4 Nov 1989. From Rock’s Backpages.
Guns N’ Roses FAQ – Think you know everything there is to know about these rock legends and the music that hit the world rock n’ roll scene like a speeding night train?!? Try this new book out and see how much you missed!
The Best Of Bobby McFerrin – This one is such a classic that I still hear folks whistling the tune to ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ at the shops or in the library! This guy is a huge talent so if ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ is the only tune you know of his then follow the link and stream some more! And YES, he’s still alive – there was never anything to the rumours of the 1990’s…
Bobby McFerrin. By Tim Page, Newsday, 30 Jul 1995. Part of Rock’s Backpages, The ultimate library of rock music writing and journalism.
Chord Songbook Collection – Learn to play ‘Bad Medicine’ to celebrate it’s 30th birthday this year! It got to #2 on the NZ charts and is there a bigger rock anthem..!?!?
Bon Jovi – The story of the rockers from Jersey. Get some background and context for their penning of ‘Bad Medicine’, 30yrs ago this year.
Def Leppard – Working class boys from northern England make it big with one of the biggest albums in rock history, but right now we’re talking about that iconic smash that entered the NZ charts mid-March, topped out at #40, then disappeared. We’re talking about ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ a song that had us rockin’ out in 1988! – wrecking ball at the ready!
Def Leppard: Loadsamoney!!. By Mat Snow, Q, May 1988. Part of Rock’s Backpages.
Easy Acoustic Songs – ‘Fast Car’ by Tracy Chapman is one of those songs that instantly transport you back to where you were when you first heard it – what a beaut song! Give it a go on Piano, Vocal, Guitar in this easy acoustics songbook, where it’s jammed in with loads of other tunes you’ll want to try too!
She’s Gotta Ticket: Tracy Chapman. By Lucy O’Brien, City Limits, 5 May 1988. Part of Rock’s Backpages.
Pet Sounds – Has there ever been a song so divisive amongst its artists devout followers as was ‘Kokomo’…?!?! It got at least up to #11 in the NZ charts! Still not sure how I feel about it even after 30 years! Why don’t we have a listen to their best album instead…
The Very Best of – Gee these boys hit us hard in the late nineties, non bigger than their iconic hit ‘I’m Gonna Be’ which is still shouted as loud as a roaring soccer crowd at any Celtic-themed pub around the world today! It made it all the way to #3 on the NZ charts in 1988 but ran home to #1 in January of 1989, not 500 miles from our featured year by any extent! ….it’s stuck in your head now isn’t it. Go on, sing it!
Sunshine on Leith – The Proclaimers songs are so iconic that a musical movie was built around them a few years back. If you’re a fan of the music and you missed this film then you’re in luck as we have it in our collection!
Valentine’s Day comes around each February 14 and, depending on your penchant for romance, you’ll either be looking for that special someone or you’ve already found them and, in order to hang on to them, you’ll be showering them with flowers, chocolates and presenting them with a suitably gushing card.
But the origins of Valentine’s Day are somewhat less lovey-dovey and a good deal more violent. Saint Valentine, for whom the day is named, was imprisoned by the ancient Romans for performing weddings for soldiers, who were forbidden to marry, and for ministering to Christians who at that time were being persecuted by the Roman Emperor. Legend has it that, during his imprisonment, Valentine, who was made a saint after his Christian martyrdom, performed a miracle by restoring the sight of a blind woman whose father had sentenced Valentine to prison.
So things were not too romantic for Valentine, but before he was executed he wrote the formerly blind woman a letter and signed it “Your Valentine”. So this was the prototype, presumably, for the Valentine card that Hallmark gets rich on every year.
So, by all means, read, listen or view something appropriate from our collection.
What could be more romantic than Titanic, the story of “two people from different worlds meet and fall in love on the brief, tragic maiden voyage of the grand ocean liner Titanic.”
But, if you are after a more visceral take on Valentine’s Day, you could recapture the spirit of the notorious Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929 Prohibition-era Chicago when Al Capone’s gang murdered seven members of rival George “Bugs” Moran.
The nominees for the Academy awards have been announced for this year. For me the most notable inclusions are “genre” films in the Best Picture category. It’s unusual for genre films to get much love from the Academy in this category (Peter Jackson’s The Return of the King is so far the only fantasy film to ever win Best Picture) so it will be interesting to see if either Guillermo Del Toro‘s fairy tale fantasy (The shape of water) or Jordan Peele‘s modern gothic horror (Get out) will take the out the Oscar. They’re both up against more traditionally “Oscar-worthy” films in this category so it seems unlikely, in my opinion ( but if you’re interested in knowing more, may I direct you to this graph showing how the genre preferences of the Academy for Best Picture stack up)
Oscar nominated movies must have opened in the previous calendar year, which means that some (but not all) of these films are now available in New Zealand. Flicks has a useful list of where and how you can watch the 2018 Oscar-nominated movies locally.
As for the library collection, below are the 2018 Oscar-nominated films available for loan on DVD or with tie-in reading material. See how many you can watch/read ahead of the awards ceremony on Sunday, 4 March (Monday, 5 March here if you’re planning on watching live).
A number of this year’s nominated films are either based on books or have tie-in titles or soundtracks, so you might want also want to check out:
The NZSO National Youth Orchestra are performing next month at the Isaac Theatre Royal as part of their summer concerts series. The orchestra is made up of mostly university students and the standard of musicianship is high. Teenage prodigy Matthias Balzat (who has been playing cello since the age of three) will perform under the baton of conductor Guy Noble.
The pieces performed will be:
We have 2 double passes to give away to library members. All you need to do is tell us your favourite New Zealand songwriter or composer and complete the competition entry form. Entries close at 5pm on Thursday, 25 January and winners will be announced on Friday 26 January.
Can you believe it’s been two years since David Bowie passed away?
Bowie was the king of media in many forms. A lot has been published since he died that genuinely and tastefully celebrates his life and influence on fashion, music and freedom of the spirit. Here is just a taste:
This book is by Pat Gilbert, who has also covered The Clash. Its an in-depth analysis of Bowie’s music; his influence on genres such as glam and punk rock, reinvention of his image and stagecraft itself. Richly balanced with concert and backstage images, posters and tickets.
Gerald Fearnley is the brother of a bandmate from Bowie’s early days. He shot the sleeve images for his first album, David Bowie, in 1967. Fearnley’s portraits are published here for the first time, perhaps capturing the transformation from David Jones to Bowie.
Dylan Jones is a well respected biographer with quite a list of names behind him. In this biography includes interviews with around 180 people who knew, loved and worked with him. Many of these tales have never been told.
This book captures Bowie’s last performance as Ziggy Stardust, at the Marquee Club in Soho. The year was 1973. Celebrated photographer Terry O’Neill caught the behind stage action as well as the show. At the time, nobody knew that this was to be Ziggy’s last show.
Bowie didn’t follow fashion, he created it. This book looks at how David Bowie’s freedom of expression influenced society; breaking down gender barriers in fashion, the way he perceived the world could be, and especially ways he could make music – ultimately becoming a defining figure of his age.
One for the scrapbook keeper. I admit I had one once! Chock full of facts from Aladdin Sane to Z for Ziggy Stardust.
What’s your favourite David Bowie album?
My first and still firm favourite album is 1980’s Scary Monsters.
The industrial sound of this album reflected post punk experimentation, also used by the Cure in Seventeen Seconds. Fashion, of course, broke down barriers and sales records.
The album that gets played the most at my place is Changes Two. Some of the best songs on that one, from John, I’m only Dancing, to Wild is the Wind.
My personal favourite. A cover of Nina Simone’s also beautiful version.
Don’t feel sad on the 10th January. Get yourself some great Bowie media, light a candle and celebrate the Chameleon. Or Love the Alien?
December is here and it’s time to make merry!
Break out the ugly Christmas shirts, decorate the house and surrounds, start thinking about that all-conquering Christmas lunch, and sing a happy tune – but which tune…?
Here are some ideas to give you the soundtrack of seasonal festivity that you deserve! 🙂
The merry season is finally upon us so let’s kick start our festive cheer with some suitably Christmassy tunes to accompany you through the month of merry-making!
Felice navidad, joyeaux noel, and meri kirihimete!!
Prefer to get your music online? See Simone’s recommendations for Christmas playlists from our online streaming services.
Christmas music is marmite kind of thing you either love it or hate it. Research by psychologists have found that listening to too much Christmas music too early has a detrimental effect one’s mental health, especially for those who work in retail.
If you are hosting the family or friends during this festive season you may want some background music that you haven’t heard a million times over at the mall. We have some excellent music streaming services such as Alexander Street Music Online, Naxos Music Library and Naxos Jazz. Using these resources you can find some curated Christmas Music Playlists with classical and jazz Christmas music that won’t drive you nuts.
Classical Christmas Music
Christmas Jazz Music
Or for CDs from our collection check out Dan’s Christmas music picks.