As any visitor will see, my blog progress has been very slow … in fact, non-existent for some time now. The reason/s? There are several: firstly, writing my thesis has absorbed all available writing time and energy. Once I am finished, which will be in the next couple of months (touch wood) I will be … More 2018


January arrived more than two weeks ago, and, until now, I have not written anything for this noble medium. But, this indolent state of affairs will now change. I decided that a decent break from all ‘brain activities’ must take place, coinciding with the Christmas closure of VUW from 23 December-9 January. During those two-and-a-bit … More 2017

Notes beyond notes

We’ve just reached the time of year in New Zealand when arts organisations reveal their programmes for 2017. In the last few weeks, the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Chamber Music New Zealand, and Orchestra Wellington have launched new seasons. The programmes are ambitious and stimulating, an embarrassment of riches that will bring to audiences a mixture of outstanding local musicians, … More Notes beyond notes


  This article by Ellen Boucher (the title is a little bit misleading)  has provoked some thoughts. http://chronicle.com/article/It-s-Time-to-Ditch-Our/237530 Firstly, I can see the value of Boucher’s argument, especially for students who are experiencing tertiary education for the first time, the ‘first generation’ in their family to attend an institution of higher education. I can also appreciate … More Deadlines

Scary music

During a concert on Thursday night, it occurred to me that while we often think about the capacity of beautiful, eloquent, sublime music to move us, it is less often that we eulogise the ability of music to strike cold, stark terror into our minds and bodies.  The experience of the ‘heilige Schauer’ is a … More Scary music

Can Can’t

  You Can’t Go Home Again, the novel that Edward Aswell extracted from from a vast manuscript by the then-dead Thomas Wolfe, is an exhausting read. I spent some time grappling with its proportions on a windy night somewhere near Exeter, lying on a lumpy futon, under some bedclothes that smelled of a compulsive blend … More Can Can’t

Dynamic contrast

Part I The title of this post is taken from a frequently recurring comment on the grade sheets my pupils received after taking a variety of ABRSM exams this term. Sometimes they ‘attempted dynamic contrast’, sometimes they ‘achieved dynamic contrast’ and one even ‘demonstrated imagination in dynamic contrast.’ Examiners speak in riddles sometimes, but I … More Dynamic contrast