Beautiful Babelfish

Babelfish performing at the LibraryWhile all those clever literary types were hob-nobbing in Auckland last weekend, some of us stayed in Christchurch and worked.  However, the could-have-been-onerous nature of this work was hugely mitigated by the fantastic May Music Month performance right next to my desk.

Babelfish are a Christchurch-based folk and gypsy duo who play guitar and violin.  They have been performing together for some time, and seem to work really well as a team.  I wasn’t sure what to expect (there’s something about the word ‘gypsy’ that I find slightly unsettling, and my personal music tastes lean slightly more towards screamer punk than symphonic melodies), but the performance was simply lovely.

The songs and melodies were pitched just right for the audience, and there were rows of very appreciative library patrons, several of whom appeared to have timed their visit to coincide, but many others who were drawn in by the performance.  My only (and tiny) quibble was that it would have been nice to have just a wee bit of introduction, or perhaps one or two words about some of the songs, particularly for those of us who are less than familiar with the genre, but the hour flew by, and it was with great reluctance that we packed up and turned The Blue Lounge back into just Plain Old Magazine Reading Area.

Give ’em a taste of library

Give em a taste of library
Give 'em a taste of library

Following the popularity of the Library Detective podcasts, Christchurch City Libraries decided to use the New Zealand music month celebrations for its next foray into online and broadcast audio.

Two programmes have been created for broadcast on community radio station Plains FM during May, using the name Give ’em a taste of library. The programmes are available online.

A fresh episode will play on Wednesday 20 May, with a further repeat on the 27th.
Plains FM have just won a fourth consecutive New Zealand Radio award, a tremendous achievement for a community station.

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.

Stringophilia At New Brighton Library

StringophiliaAs the rain kept coming down and the chill wind crept under even the thickest garments on Sunday, those seeking shelter in New Brighton Library were treated to a sublime performance of singing strings. Cathy Irons (violin) and Tomas Hurnik (cello), both Christchurch Symphony Orchestra musicians, performed a number of pieces together and solo, including compositions  from Stamitz, Prokofiev, Telemann and Bach.

While many people arrived especially for the performance, others who were just happening by couldn’t help but stop and listen on in wonder. It quickly became apparent that there were nowhere near enough seats for all in attendance and the popularity of the event brought a warmth to the library which was sorely needed on such a chill day. The performance ended with a generous amount of applause and people went on their way with lifted spirits and the knowledge that they had heard something a little bit special.

From a personal point of view it was so nice to be at work and to have the opportunity to listen to some wonderful music being performed by such accomplished musicians. Thanks again to Cathy and Tomas for providing those present with a marvellous experience.

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.

Fire Thief at Central Library – live, local, (loud?)

Fire Thief
Fire Thief

The first New Zealand Music Month performance at Central Library went down a treat. The tuneful accoustic set played by Fire Thief had the crowd grooving gently to start with but then warming up enough to call for something a bit louder. Despite disbelief that a library audience would want more volume the band was happy to oblige and yes they will have a CD out later in the year.

Check out our New Zealand Music Month page for more library performances and info on local performers.

Madly looking forward to Music in May

Saturday sees the first New Zealand Music Month performances in libraries and I am uncharacteristically looking forward to working on Saturday in the Central Library because I can also catch Fire Thief .

This trio plays their own material and were great the last time they played in Central – if you like a bit of acoustic pop/rock you’ll like Fire Thief. Are they named after the Terry Deary children’s book? Or am I just a sad old librarian who thinks everything has to be named after a book?

New Zealand Music Month cometh

Every year here at Christchurch City Libraries we like to celebrate New Zealand Music Month with free performances in our libraries. This year’s programme is out in your local library now and the website has more details about the performers. Our Events Calendar will also be listing the performances as they get closer. If you missed out on the free jazz last week this is the ideal chance to get your fix of local musicians. We’ll also be doing a ‘borrow 3, get 1 free’ deal on CDs again and there will be the chance to win an Apple iPod Touch.

Watch this space!