Powerful Performance @ New Brighton Library

Kapahaka group performances are a wonderful way to achieve so many things. Watching Central New Brighton School’s  kapahaka performance yesterday at New Brighton Library, I was  reminded of how important it is for children to perform in a supportive environment.

The kaiako – teachers – brought out the best of the group of over 5o children and the tauira – students – had a great time performing to the maximum of their abilities. There were newbies and oldies but the way everyone performed together was encouraging to see and a pleasure to hear. They always bring out those goosebumps!

A night of magic at New Brighton Library

At the launch
One way to get around the lack of venues in Christchurch is to invite musicians to a library, clear out all the furniture and books and fill it with sound and crowds.

The New Brighton Library was transformed last Sunday and over 300 people enjoyed a magical night at the library listening to local talent, kicking off New Zealand Music Month in Christchurch.

People from all over the city came to hear Lawrence Arabia, Marlon from Unfaithful Ways and the Silencio Ensemble.
As they entered, the mesmerizing and organic sounds of the Silencio Ensemble filled the library. This performance is a forerunner to their upcoming Joan of Arc project where they will perform a soundtrack to the silent movie from the 1920s at the Christchurch Art Gallery.

Next up were Marlon and Tim who did a line-up of Johnny Cash-inspired solos and collaborations.

This was followed by Lawrence Arabia who held the crowd captive for nearly an hour with his original Kiwi blend of music, an amazing falsetto voice and fantastic whistle.

The cool thing about having live music at the library is that you can bring your kids and of course there are books and more to be enjoyed at the same time. Adding to the ambience was the view of the colourful light display under the pier (which happens every evening)  and the mellow swell of the white-topped waves dancing under the moonlight.

Find out more about New Zealand Music Month:

Writers shine, Once Upon a Deadline

posterThe judges admitted they needed to have an “argument” to settle the hotly-contested Once upon a Deadline competition in front of several hundred people at the Wellington Town Hall on Monday night.

Six writers ended up making the starting line, and wrote the locations that they visited during the day and the experiences they had into the story. They wrote in a cage at the airport, a classroom at Wellington College, next to the cheese fridge, a coffee roastery / cafe and had A Day in Pompeii – the current exhibition at Te Papa Tongarewa.

The results? Stunning, relentless quality writing, inspired in scope and authentic in voice – and that’s what won Dianna Fuemana top prize. Her story, The Necklace, centred on the trials and tribulations of a middle-aged Samoan couple and their son (who had a thing for melons).  It was captivating tale, delivered with great timing and humour. Subtly-crafted, this was a real pearl of a story, made under the intense pressure of a competition.

David Geary thanked the minders and his editors, saying the writers got to behave “abominably” for a day. He got the lion’s share of the laughs and a fair snort of sympathy with Daddy’s going Potty, a story about a father unravelling under the day to day stress of parenthood. It resonated well with the audience who shared his pain when he said “I’d confess to any crime for some sleep”. If that wasn’t enough suffering, he also described the agony of trying to read Andre Agassi’s Open – nine times.

In The Inspiration, Neil Cross, scriptwriter for UK TV series Spooks, described how the stories “swerved to avoid” him all day. The nail-biting desperation driving him to consider bumping all the other writers off was like fireworks – peppered with sparky energy and wit. It was also delivered at such pace that it just about left you out of breath – like a writing marathon should. I look forward to seeing more of him at this festival.

Pip Hall delivered an incredibly structured and clever piece. A slow burner called Title, it ran through the elements of a short story, paid homage to Owen Marshall and gradually built up a brilliant conclusion where the title of the story was revealed. All of her side-story explorations compounded to add to the piece – the possibilities and permutations showed just how many ideas she had – the end form was rock solid and entertaining.

Impressive too were the two younger writers who stepped up to the challenge. Lucy O’Brien confidently delivered Shitzu on fire – a moody and intense piece about a young school leaver’s relationship with his mum – and it ended with a real slap. Some great imagery such as “her chicken throat moves up and down”, and some eager support from the audience set the scene for the rest of the night.

Eli Kent – one of David Geary’s students – warned the audience his story was dark, and he didn’t disappoint with his energetic and pacy delivery of The boy with the f*****-up face, about an ex-con now working in the fish department of the supermarket. He had a great turn of phrase and enjoyed delivering his characters’ words. His shirt could have been straight out of a Pompeii lava flow – a scorchingly hot orange.

So if this is what Wellington has in store, we’re off to a pretty fine start. All of these stories would last on a page.  Look out for these writers around the place – you won’t be disappointed. I hope Robert Mac, who developed the Once upon a Deadline concept, achieves his dream of taking this global – it’s a great format which strips away some of the mystery and the hoodoo about writing, and allows the writers to shine.

Marvel at the acoustic brilliance of Tommy Emmanuel

Over the years I’ve been to many great concerts with my Dad.   He’s introduced me to some of my favourite musicians including James Taylor, Dave Matthews and the Finn Brothers and I always jump at the chance to go and see someone in concert that I’ve never heard of before.  Tommy Emmanuel was one such musician, and when I went to see him in concert at the Theatre Royal a couple of years ago I was blown away.  The things that he could do with a guitar were amazing and it was easy to forget that he was the only musician on the stage.  After the concert I just had to hear more from Tommy and got some of his previous CDs from the Library.

Therefore, when I saw that we had just got Tommmy Emmanuel’s new live CD, Center Stage, at the Library I had to get my hands on it.  The CD is fantastic and it was like being back at that concert again.  One of my favourite songs from the new CD is a masterpiece called ‘Initiation’ in which Tommy shows the range of his guitar skills.

If you appreciate true musical genius, check out Tommy Emmanuel

Sonya Renee, performance poet

One of the great things about festivals is the range of styles you encounter – the variations of eloquences, as an astute audience member described it on the opening night. I have yet to meet Sonya Renee, but here is an interview we did by email – I hope to catch up with her tomorrow in person. Listen to some performances online.

The poetry slam has reinvigorated poetry. What’s more appealing to you – the passion and energy of the performance moment or the well-crafted, considered printed version?

I am in love with both. I am mesmerized by the beauty and craft of language and gifted poetry. I am equally in love with the expression on the face of a person as they experience being moved by a poem and performance. Nothing brings me more joy than watching a talented poet and perform bring a piece to life. Nothing is more painful than having to watch a terribly written poem on stage.

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Abstract psychedelic pop music hits Shirley Library

Adam Willetts
Adam Willetts performing live

I have to admit that I am a complete novice when it comes to abstract psychedelic pop music, but as a budding librarian my craving for knowledge about the unknown encouraged me to talk to Adam Willetts about his style of music. I was especially interested as Adam will be giving a live performance at Shirley Library (Sunday 24th May) as part of Christchurch City Libraries New Zealand Music Month .

I have discovered Christchurch has a thriving experimental music scene and Adam is an important part of this and performs regularly around New Zealand and internationally, featuring alongside artists such as Dan Deacon, High Places, The Dead C, Rafael Toral, and Akio Suzuki. He was recently part of Trambience, where a Christchurch tram carriage is transformed into a mobile music venue and both the audience and performers travel through the city streets.

Adam makes his own instruments and uses his homemade synthesisers and electronics ‘to create rich and immersive fields of sound with a fragile yet propulsive sense of momentum, carefully balancing elements of euphoric beauty with seething and unpredictable noise.’

Come along to Shirley Library on Sunday 24 May 12-1pm for a musical experience like never before.

Laurie Searle at Shirley Library

Laurie Searle performs at Shirley Library
Laurie Searle performs at Shirley Library

Is there anyone out there who still thinks the library is a quiet place? It certainly wasn’t at Shirley Library this morning. After an admittedly slow start to the day we had a rather raucous storytime attended by a local kindy (that always boosts the volume) followed immediately by our first Music Month performance from pianist Laurie Searle.

Laurie spent an hour playing hits from shows, popular classics, a few jazz standards and other easy listening tunes. He even brought his own fan club – a couple of older ladies who obviously knew him well. Practically all the customers I served in that time said what a pleasure it was to have live music – one lady even said it made her want to dance.

I would love to be that musical… to just be able to sit there and play so many tunes from memory… of course I’d actually have to learn to play the piano first, then spend years practising, eventually giving up the day job as a librarian and spending all my evenings in nightclubs and restaurants playing to the punters. I think I might have left it too late though – Laurie started playing when he was 9, was broadcasting on the radio by the time he was 15 and has already had success as a trio before striking out on his own.

Alternatively you could just check out some of the CDs, tapes and even vinyl recordings we have of easy listening music and pretend.
Check out our New Zealand Music Month page for more library performances and info on local performers.