On Lambton Quay

two violins by Danny Andreini

two violins by Danny Andreini

On Lambton Quay, Bach
for two violins; small boy
stands captivated.

(16 May 2016)

On an autumn afternoon, unexpectedly, a vivacious counterpoint crosses Lambton Quay and stirs up in me both joy and nostalgia.

So, if I let it write itself …

pasted poster (05 December 2012)

pasted poster (05 December 2012)

So, if I let it write itself,
will it resort to its old habitual riffs and licks,
or will it dare shapes and intervals unplanned,
allowing the fingers to lurch and spasm
in grotesque gestures, crunching dissonant chords …

Where does the question-mark belong in all of this?

So, having let it lie, incomplete,
month after month – not even remembering
having started something – does this count,
do these syllables amount to anything worthwhile,
or is there sense in setting fire to it,
or simply letting it die?

(20 April 2013 – 27 July 2014)

Happy birthday, Leonard Slatkin

Slatkin conducting Barber

Slatkin conducting Barber


American conductor and composer Leonard Slatkin turned 69 on 01 September 2013.

The son of violinist and conductor Felix Slatkin, Leonard Slatkin has served Principal conducting positions with the New Orleans Symphony, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Nashville Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestre National de Lyon. (The Violin Channel [adapted])

The image links to a YouTube video of Leonard Slatkin and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra performing Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings.


Bon anniversaire, Claude Debussy

Debussy is celebrated in Google's latest doodle. Photograph: Google

Debussy is celebrated in Google’s latest doodle. Photograph: Google


Google is celebrating the 151st anniversary of the birth of French composer Achille-Claude Debussy with an animated doodle set to one of his best-known pieces, Clair de lune (Moonlight). (The Guardian)

What did Google do on this day last year? (I don’t recall.)

Digging into the archives of |A Twisted Pair|, I found that nothing had been posted to honour Debussy’s 150th anniversaire. The |cross-ties| post for 22 August 2012 carried a nice photograph, and a quote in which the composer admits: “I am too enamoured of my freedom, too fond of my own ideas!”

A few days earlier, The New York Times had carried Anthony Tommasini’s piece, Debussy at 150: The Impressions Still Deceive, which includes the following:

But what happened to Debussy, born 150 years ago on Wednesday in St.-Germain-en-Laye, west of Paris? His anniversary has drawn surprisingly little notice, at least from major New York institutions. Carnegie Hall, the New York Philharmonic and Lincoln Center have scheduled no special events or festivals. The Metropolitan Opera last brought back its production of “Pelléas et Mélisande” for the conductor Simon Rattle’s overdue house debut in 2010, but for just five performances.

Tommasini’s thought-provoking essay is worth a read. Some nice comparisons and contrasts.

PS (23 August 2013): Here is a link to the YouTube version of the Google Doodle.

Joyeux anniversaire, Reinhold Glière

This being the birthday of Reinhold Glière, Radio New Zealand Concert played the first movement of his Harp Concerto this morning … which reminded me how lovely it is.

So here’s a YouTube version. Enjoy!

The Hobbit: 3 days to go

“Hobbit stamps, Hobbit coins and Hobbit markets are all in the works as the city of Wellington, New Zealand, prepares for the world premiere of ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ on Nov 28.” (Mark Johanson, writing in the International Business Times, 10 Oct 2012)

3 days to go #1 (25 Nov 2012)

3 days to go #1 (25 Nov 2012)

“The film is the first in a trilogy, with director Peter Jackson returning to JRR Tolkien’s novels after his hit adaptations of Lord Of The Rings.” Subtitled ‘An Unexpected Journey’, the film stars British actors Martin Freeman and Sir Ian McKellen. (BBC News : Entertainment & Arts, 08 Oct 2012)

I snapped these shots this morning on my way to work. (The Embassy Cinema, on Wellington’s Cambridge Terrace, is just a few minutes’ walk from my apartment.)

3 days to go #2 (25 Nov 2012)

3 days to go #2 (25 Nov 2012)

Knight on a plough horse

Daily rituals are important … and there are several I try not to miss.

In the morning, a glass of pomegranate juice helps me swallow the meds and supplements – after I’ve lit candles and chanted Christian and Buddhist prayers.

And every day – usually in the evening – I write.

Knight of Pentacles (Rider-Waite version)

Knight of Pentacles (Rider-Waite version), artist Pamela Colman Smith; from the actual 1909 deck, no longer under copyright.

Drawing Tarot cards is not generally part of my daily routine … although, over the past few days, I have done it several times.

This morning’s card was the Knight of Pentacles. The knights all represent work, effort, and responsibility, but this one (in the words of Biddy Tarot) “is engaged in the often toilsome, routine efforts required to realise the dreams of his heart.”

Biddy describes the Knight of Pentacles as methodical and rigorous – meticulous, or even a perfectionist – ascribing to him such qualities as patience, reliability, responsibility, and commitment. “Though his visions may not be earth-shattering, and his methods are certainly not original, the Knight of Pentacles sees that everything he undertakes will meet with nothing but success.”

Biddy talks about “[the] need to follow a routine to ensure that an important task or job is completed from start to finish at the standard expected.

“You are in ‘implementation mode’,” she adds, “and are committed to getting the job done, even if it requires hard work along the way.”

Doesn’t this sound like she’s talking directly and specifically to as us writers?

I don’t actually need reminding that I will “make sure that everything is planned and executed down to the finest detail … will never leave a job half done … complete all assigned tasks and projects to a certain standard and … follow through on [my] promises.”

If you’re still in doubt about your role as a knight on a plough horse, read Biddy Tarot for yourself.