So who else caught Metropolis? To be honest, I only heard two concerts, the first and the last of the three with Thomas Adès, and I missed the one in between because a) it wasn’t included in the ‘subscription’ so initially I didn’t know it existed, and b) it was at 6.30pm, which seriously doesn’t work for me on a Monday.
I was involved in the Metropolis Festival a few years ago when Bramwell Tovey conducted Don Banks’s Nexus and I was on jazz piano. Heaps of fun. Ben Robertson played bass and David Jones was at the drums. Eugene Ball and Lachlan Davidson were also standing around, and perhaps there were some other jazzers – but let’s face it, we all sound the same to me. There were three concerts at the Malthouse in that series with Maestro Tovey in charge, and I went to all of them. After the second I wormed my way backstage and retrieved this (click on it if you want a better look):
I’m such a damn’ groupie. Still, it’s a treasured possession and I say that with neither apology nor dissemblance.
There was this other time when I had a gig in Adelaide with Ben and Dave, and Emma Gilmartin, and as it turned out the nation was being toured at the same time by one Stephen Patrick Morrissey. He and his gang were much in evidence at Adelaide Airport, and by the time we’d reached Melbourne Emma had convinced me to front him and pop the question. He was lovely about it:
There are reflections in this photograph because yes, the boarding pass is in a frame. ‘I walked a pace behind you at the airport.’ Anyway, back to Metropolis: last year Steve Reich was here and there were some astonishing presentations at the Melbourne Recital Centre. eighth blackbird was in it too and but for the dreary conversation between its members and Mr Reich the whole experience might have resembled perfection. I’d only recently got properly acquainted with Reich’s music so he couldn’t have visited at a better time.
This time around it was Thomas Adès, someone about whom I found out after an article appeared in The Guardian (‘don’t you read The Guardian, Neil?!’) six years ago.
It amazes me to think that I’ve been alive at the same time as Keith Jarrett – in fact as far as I’m aware I still am – and even once I saw and heard him in the flesh. There was a time that Benjamin Britten was alive, when I was, and Witold Lutoslawski died still more recently. Beverley Farmer, whose work provided the epigraph (and, indeed, the title) for my most recent recording is still out there somewhere, although I’ve never met her, and I once wrote a silly fan letter to Patrick White while he was still with us. You can get, no, sorry, I can get, a bit silly about these things, and probably that’s my inner groupie coming out. But after a time (roughly six years) of getting to know Thomas Adès’s work, and finding that many parts of it stunned me petrifyingly, here I was at a Melbourne Symphony Orchestra concert watching him wave the stick over the Dances from ‘Powder Her Face’, or Concerto Conciso.
So it was I that I had to have this:
‘Ooh,’ said the composer, with some surprise. ‘Do you play it?’
‘Very, very slowly,’ I replied. (His performance takes twelve minutes; mine is currently down to about an hour and a half.) ‘But it’s a marvellous piece of music, and I love it. Thank you.’
So at least if I never make anything much of my own life, I met some top people.