Music (& politics)

13 Aug



I’m telling you, if you haven’t heard a Mongolian throat singer perform George Gershwin’s Summertime you haven’t lived.

Bukhu, who has just been granted a Distinguished Talent visa by the DIBP, performed this feat last night accompanied by John Robinson (oud, Turkish baglama) Peter Kennard (percussion) and Bertie McMahon (double bass). Together they comprise the group Equus and they make music, rather than just play it very well.

Aside: I was going to write a warning top of this post stating that it isn’t political, when I realised that in fact it is. The political and human point to be made is that as I sat in the audience last night freezing my bum off in the delightful but seriously cold Pelican Theatre in Grafton, I thought that we, (we being all of us who can go to concerts, all of us who can perform in them and all of us who can read about them) are amongst the world’s most privileged people. I don’t feel guilt about that, but I do think the least we can do is to acknowledge our good fortune, and send forth a passing gratitude into the cosmos in the hope of counteracting some small portion of the dark matter in which we are almost entirely engulfed. As well as using our voices and our votes.

Back to music. Equus conjures up images of vast Mongolian plains and wild horses, fused with Turkish melodies to which the western ear must accustom itself. Just when you’re lost in the world created by this fusion, up pops Gershwin, performed by Bukhu using all four of his throat voices plus one that comes entirely through his nose. You laugh, out loud, in joyous delight, because this extraordinary performer is making music with such intelligence and wit, and he’s teasing you as well.

You’re in an enriched world, one without borders, and it’s a deeply nourishing place to be.

The day before I’d had a tiresome drive  from Lismore, tiresome because the goat track that is the Pacific Highway is finally being fixed and it takes forever to get home but fortunately for me, the Australian Youth Orchestra was on ABC FM playing Mahler’s first symphony which is not my favourite, but as with Leonard Cohen, I’ll listen to anything Mahler wrote.

The orchestra recently returned from a tour of Europe and China. While away, the lead clarinet made a point of playing a cadenza adapted from a piece of music specific to the city in which they were performing. This broadcast was from Melbourne, it was their homecoming concert and towards the end of piece by Katchachurian, the clarinetist burst into a virtuoso rendition of I still call Australia Home. Stuck at the road works, I laughed out loud at the wit, the intelligence and the unexpectedness.

It was another moment of joyous delight, brought to me by music. It was another moment of experiencing the richness of a world without borders.

This is why conservatives loathe the arts, and withdraw funding from just about anything that holds a possibility of being innovative and interesting. The arts dissolve borders. The arts are not respecters of sovereignty. The arts threaten to render conservative politicians obsolete and make them objects of pity and scorn.

Conservative politicians are unmasked by the world of music, as the intrusive, sad and ignorant pests they have become.

They do have a place. They’ve forgotten what it is. They need to get back to it. It isn’t nearly as important as music or any of the arts, and they know it.

Next week I’m going to see the Bangarra dancers, and spend some hours studying paintings. So I probably won’t be posting much about politics. Or posting anything at all.  🎵 👀 🎨 👏 😀




14 Responses to “Music (& politics)”

  1. lindacairnes2 August 13, 2016 at 10:31 am #

    I will be hoping you make a delirious comment on Bangarra. Along the lines of transformational, life enhancing, indigenous dads and children etc etc. may you have a fine time..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. paul walter August 13, 2016 at 10:46 am #


    Liked by 1 person

  3. diannaart August 13, 2016 at 4:12 pm #

    Just wow!

    Music that entrances, trundles through your mind, leaves the body vibrating…. love it and I do believe any music of this type befuddles the neo-con. Music of this ilk travels places where the narrow-minded have put up road-blocks and sink-holes.

    …and the arts are political, always have been… something that touches us on a personal level, which we never forget… defies authoritarian control.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. doug quixote August 13, 2016 at 7:29 pm #

    If music be the food of love, play on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hypo August 13, 2016 at 9:15 pm #

      “If music be the food of love, play on.”

      Lionel Richie?


      • doug quixote August 13, 2016 at 11:57 pm #

        The Bard, Hypo.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jennifer Wilson August 14, 2016 at 8:04 am #

        Shakespeare, Hypo. Twelfth Night.


        • Hypo August 14, 2016 at 9:14 am #

          Sorry………… I quipped.

          Me, I like good music.
          How long is a piece of string
          If your talking classical yes, mush of.
          I think lots of traditional folk music has that ability to cross borders, and yet give a taste of the region or culture it originates from.Really like fusion of folk and modern like Inti Illimani, stuff.
          Then there’s contemporary, too long a list.


  5. Fiona August 13, 2016 at 10:35 pm #

    Mahler? I love his work, but it depends very much on my mood.

    JSB and Mozart, on the other hand . . .

    The Bangarra Company is sensational in every way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • paul walter August 13, 2016 at 10:57 pm #

      Gregorian chant does it for me.. in a dark cool room. And Beethoven sometimes, when you want to roar and stomp a bit. And of course Baroque.

      Liked by 1 person


  1. Barrage 8 coming to Pittsburgh – PITTSBURGH MUSIC MAGAZINE - August 30, 2016

    […] Music (& politics) […]


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