Top 10 Australia Culture On this week 06/09/2020 (COVID-19 EDITION)
Let’s ease into functionality together.
10) Jane Fonda: What Can I Do?
What: Join Jane Fonda for a live discussion of her most recent book. In What Can I Do?, Fonda weaves her deeply personal journey as an activist alongside conversations with and speeches by leading climate scientists and inspiring community organisers, and dives deep into the issues, such as water, migration, and human rights, to emphasise what is at stake. Most significantly, Fonda equips us all with the tools we need to join her in protest, so that everyone can work to combat the climate crisis.
Why: The world-famous multi-multi-millionaire white actress and leg-warmer molester wants you to listen to her opinion for once.
9) Free Shakespeare at Home: King Lear
What: Did you know Shakespeare composed King Lear during the London plague of 1606? This production is a unique response to the current pandemic that may keep us from gathering in parks, but not from sharing art in the virtual realm. What happens when the nation’s ageing leader divides the land among their children and renounces political responsibility without also renouncing personal power? Find out in King Lear.
Why: Teach your child the benefits of being a manipulative a***hole. Tragedy and death aside, the good and honest Cordelia was the only one who didn’t make bank.
8) Proms: Ryan Bancroft
What: California-born Ryan Bancroft makes his Proms debut as Principal Conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Bancroft grew up in a household where jazz and prog-rock was heard more often than Bach, so it’s no surprise that jazz plays a role in this mostly American programme. Martinů’s quirky Jazz Suite complements John Adams’s Chamber Symphony, whose sound-world only became clear to the composer when, as he was studying Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony one day, he became aware that his young son was watching cartoons in a neighbouring room. After a new commission by British composer Gavin Higgins comes two American classics: Barber’s nostalgic evocation of a balmy summer Tennessee night and Copland’s ballet inspired by early-19th-century pioneer settlers in Pennsylvania.
Why: Jazz, but fancy. So, far less tolerable.
7) Last Night of The Proms
What: The BBC Symphony Orchestra’s Principal Guest Conductor Dalia Stasevska makes her Last Night debut along with South-African soprano Golda Schultz in the climax of a Proms season like no other. There will be no flag-waving at the Royal Albert Hall, but instead a musical feast in countless living rooms – and on countless mobile devices – across the country and around the world.
Why: All the majesty of a grand symphony and opera with the majesty part removed and replaced by a tiny, tinny speaker and your depression-riddled apartment.
6) Beethoven From Memory
What: Beethoven’s hearing loss plunged the composer into isolation and despair, so it’s hard to believe him capable of producing a symphony such as his Seventh, which pulses with restless energy – and which the Aurora Orchestra plays from memory. It’s a work with a special place in Proms history, too: it was the last piece Proms founder-conductor Henry Wood directed before his death in 1944. Richard Ayres opens the concert with a deeply personal new work inspired both by Beethoven’s journey into deafness and his own experience of hearing loss, a vivid soundscape in which clarity gradually gives way to confusion.
Why: A reminder to never be too proud of your own personal achievements. Beethoven will always have been deaf when he composed one of the greatest symphonic pieces of all time, and no matter how many times you alter your bread recipe, it’ll never top Tip Top.
5) Paavo Jarvi Conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra
What: The sophisticated, transfigured Baroque dances of Ravel’s Le tombeau de Couperin offset Shostakovich’s boisterous Piano Concerto No. 1, with its cheeky sprinkling of quotations from Classical giants Beethoven and Haydn among others. These two works of neo-Baroque and neo-Classical influences are followed by Mozart’s final symphony, the ‘Jupiter’, a high point of the ‘true’ Classical-period canon. Nicknamed posthumously for its majestic first movement and epic finale, the work is a summation of Mozart’s entire symphonic output with its unique blend of grandeur and subtlety.
Why: If you find yourself in a conversation with someone who says “the true Classical-period”, you’re morally obligated to kill at least one of you.
4) Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Isata Kanneh-Mason: Live
What: At only 21 Sheku Kanneh-Mason is already one of the most sought-after cellists, having won BBC Young Musician in 2016. For this specially pre-recorded Proms recital he is joined by 24-year-old Isata Kanneh-Mason, the eldest of the family’s seven musical siblings. Continuing the Albert’s 250th-anniversary celebrations of Beethoven’s birth, his C major Cello Sonata reflects the concentration of expression and form typical of his late period. By contrast, Barber’s sonata, though written in 1932, looks backwards, its drama and lyricism rooted in the Romantic era. After Bridge’s passionate, youthful and lightly Impressionistic Mélodie comes Rachmaninov’s post-Romantic sonata, a full-blooded cornerstone of the cello/piano repertoire whose macabre scherzo movement and joyously ebullient finale contrast with a slow movement of melting bittersweet indulgence.
Why: Imagine, as a 21-year-old, what it feels like to be in demand for anything other than your genitals or your weed hook-up. Yeah…we can’t imagine how that feels either.
3) Step Afrika! Virtual Premiere: Stono
What: When African Americans lost the right to use their drums through The Negro Act of 1740, they began to use their bodies as percussive instruments in response. This act of survival and activism earned them the name of “Drumfolk,” coined by famed folklorist Bessie Jones. Their percussive movement gave rise to some of the country’s most distinctive art forms, including the ring shout, tap, hambone, and stepping. Stono will honour the spirit of resistance and activism that remains a critical part of American freedom. The virtual premiere will be immediately followed by a live panel discussion. Panelists will explore the Stono Rebellion and its relevance to issues regarding political protest and structural inequities that dominate American conversations today.
Why: If only every vital lecture we’ve had to sit through was preceded by rhythmic body play, we might not still so aggressively resent the fact that we’ll be saddled with HECS debt until we die.
2) Kokoroko: Live
What: London jazz group Kokoroko will be making their Proms debut live at the Royal Albert Hall. The 8-piece group, led by Sheila Maurice-Grey, have previously appeared at Glastonbury, 6 Music Festival, and jazz festivals around the globe. Drawing from Afrobeat, highlife and jazz influences, they celebrate West African music greats, and pay tribute to the unique music culture they grew up in. Percussionist Onome Edgeworth says “We love this music and want other people to love it the way we do”.
Why: The genre of music your whitest friend shoehorns into every discussion and promotes with an emotional vehemence that is definitely disproportionate.
1) Roxane Gay: The Selected Works of Audre Lorde
What: Lorde’s “intelligent, fierce, powerful, sensual, provocative, indelible” prose and poetry, for a new generation of readers. Self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” Audre Lorde is an unforgettable voice in twentieth-century literature, and one of the first to center the experiences of black, queer women. This essential reader showcases her indelible contributions to intersectional feminism, queer theory, and critical race studies in twelve landmark essays and more than sixty poems—selected and introduced by one of the most powerful contemporary voices on race and gender, Roxane Gay.
Why: A brilliant artist deconstructed by a brilliant artist. There are no downsides here. Except…well, it’s still mostly poetry.