Lockdown Stories from Ensemble Offspring

We’ve missed catching up with our audience at live events, so we’re bringing you a series of blogs from our fantastic musos to let you know what they’ve been up to during lockdown. Jason tells us about his injured bass clarinet and ‘winter dipping’ at Bronte beach, Véronique poetically describes her recent experiences and hopes for the future, we hear of Lamorna’s work creating resources for flute students, and Claire gives us a comprehensive list of the best music, sound and culture you can find to keep you entertained online.

Musical Life in Lockdown – Jason Noble

Seems like an eternity since we were putting the icing on our Shivers on Speed programme for the Sydney Opera House. Those final days did take me back to the initial Covid outbreak in 2020, when some of us were also rehearsing with Sydney Chamber Opera for Breaking Glass. That time we at least managed to record the show without an audience. So tough on everyone pulling the plug on the Opera House show for the second time, but I think it was the correct decision given what has happened in the following weeks.

So what have I been up to during lockdown? Well first thing I managed to do was get my instruments in to their annual(?) service. Sometimes it is hard to find a two-week window, so that was a blessing in some ways. My bass clarinet in particular was needing some love and attention, it hadn’t had a proper time in respite for a couple of years, even after a nasty fall during a rehearsal in Scotland a couple of years back. I had completely forgotten that happened, when my repairer said…” has this had an accident?”, ummm yes! Anyway, I’ve got my baby back now, and he is feeling great and ready for some notes.

Otherwise, I’ve been fortunate enough to have some students to teach on Zoom, which is keeping me afloat at the moment. And lots of cooking in my slow cooker… The butcher in Randwick is my new favourite place, who would have thought! I’ve also been swimming in the ocean; I love my winter swimming at Bronte Beach – well, probably more like winter dipping, as I don’t stay in for too long, but it does make me feel alive. If only my pilates and yoga were as consistent. I normally do these daily, but I’m finding the routine hard at home. I think that’s the hard thing about this lockdown, it’s the rollercoaster of emotions. Some days you love being at home and feel like you get lots done, and the next you spend a lot of time navel gazing wondering about the career you have chosen and what to do about that, as well as listening too much to Gladys. I particularly feel for those colleagues who don’t do any teaching, or heaven forbid have just taken on a mortgage. Hopefully some government support will kick in soon, hoping the micro-business grant will help me, but to date that hasn’t opened.

I’ve enjoyed listening to some music in my free time. I got a bit obsessed by Ligeti: ‘Chamber Concerto for 13 Instrumentalists’. Wow, love the density of that score. Maybe one day we’ll get to play it, although harpsichord, harmonium, piano and celeste make this a challenge. Also reading Louis Nowra’s: ‘Kings Cross. A Biography’. Brings back a lot of memories and also history. What an amazing place! Finally, I got my second Pfizer dose on Tuesday, so fully vaccinated. Had the worst fever overnight, was quite full-on and left me depleted the next day, but now feeling great. Stay safe everyone.

Andrew Blanch, Jason Noble and Vladimir Gorbach at The Surge (2021) – photo by Pip Farquharson

Long Way from Green Square Library… – Veronique Serret

Encased in the glass rehearsal room on the top floor of Green Square Library, Sydney’s lockdown was closing in on us.
We were in our final day of rehearsals for our upcoming Utzon room program ‘Shivers on Speed’ (rescheduled from 2020).
Borders ready to slam shut… locked in.
As a touring musician (or perhaps ex touring I should say) this always brings a level of anxiety… and an inability to focus on the task at hand. Not a productive rehearsal day.
My upcoming gigs were in Queensland, followed by a week at home then Darwin, Gold Coast, Melbourne , all over the place.
Somehow we believed the virus was under control. Ready to move on.
Persistent like an ear worm Virus says NO. 
At least not yet…
The foundations shift once again and all the careful planning evaporates – 
what else to do but surrender.
Or move to Queensland for a while?
Halfway through the paperwork and I’m having cold feet… Quarantine… can I do it?
Perhaps the best we can do for now as artists, is maintain our spirit and dream about 2022. Something to look forward to!
Meanwhile try to allow that pause, pivot once again and contemplate the change.

Véronique Serret at The Surge (2021) – photo by Pip Farquharson

Lamorna’s Lockdown – Lamorna Nightingale

Yesterday I got my second Pfizer jab so today I feel a bit crashed out, it’s also pretty chilly so it’s a good day to sit in front of the heater! On more positive days I’ve been trying to make the most of the time to do some work on a new book for my Fluteworthy collection of resources for flute students. It’s a project that has been tootling along for over a year but now feels like I’ve had time to give it a good kick-along! I’ve also been having a look at some new classics in the flute repertoire to keep my chops in form. Feeling thankful to be able to continue with my teaching and examining for the AMEB or else my income would be totally down the drain! In between all of this I’ve been walking the streets of Ashfield listening to amazing podcasts – favourites have been the ABC ‘Juanita’, Audiolab’s ‘The Disappearance of Harry Pace’ and a musical one ‘Aria Code’ by WQXR – seriously, what would be doing without the internet! Also just started reading ‘The Fire Next Time’ by James Baldwin – what a powerful thinker & writer. The garden is also getting a bit more attention!

Lamorna Nightingale, Jason Noble and Solomon Frank at Sizzle Festival (2021) – photo by Christopher Hayles

Lockdown Listening Tips – Claire Edwardes

My tips for where to find out about the best music, sound and culture…

Online concerts/platforms

Sydney Opera House – currently relaunching 2020 digital content including our Mesmerism relaunching Tuesday 3rd August
The Surge – EO’s new videos & showreels of that recent tour
National Sawdust – a plethora of panels, concerts and articles reflecting the diversity of the NY music scene today
Melbourne Recital Centre – pre recorded concerts including a recent Rubiks Collective concert which I can recommend
SOUNZ (NZ Music Information Centre) – lots of recorded concerts and videos 
Melbourne Digital Concert Hall – the people doing the live streaming thing in Australia
Offspring for All – Ensemble Offspring’s new streaming platform which we are about to launch – more on this very soon!

Podcasts/Radio Streams

2020 Ngarra-Burria stream ABC Classics – featuring the latest 2020 batch of amazing First Nations composers
Soundmaking Podcast – hosted by EO founder Matthew Shlomowitz and Hakon Stene
ABC Unravel: Juanita – digging around the underground life of Kings Cross in the 70’s
Chamber of Musical Curiosities (MVA podcast) – including an episode with me ☺
The Arts Hubbub Podcast – loads of interesting Aussie arts related topics
Grounded with Louis Theroux – Louis interviews really interesting folks
Wind of Change Podcast – a guy obsessively tries to find out whether the Scorpian’s famous song Wind of Change was written by the CIA.

Amazing TV/Movies

Babyteeth (movie with music by Amanda Brown – you need to rent it on google play)
Wakefield (ABC series with music by Maria Alfonsine)
Stateless (Netflix)
Ms Represented (ABC series with music by Caitlin Yeo)

Yummy Cooking Tips

Date, ginger and dark chocolate slice
Lemon Ricotta Cake (it’s lemon season!)
Seriously rich chocolate brownies
Homemade Dumplings

Gender Equity Websites

Donne Women in Music
Keychange (I am the Aussie Ambassador)
I have been madly updating the gender equal repertoire lists on MY website
Cut Common – a music mag based in Tasmania that reports on interesting and different stuff

Claire Edwardes at Kontiki Racket (2019) – photo by Christopher Hayles