reviewing the review
2011 has been a fantastic year. I’ve heard more of my own music than ever before, and have had a great time, being flown around the country, meeting so many music lovers, making so many musical friends and enjoying the company of such talented colleagues. This is not in any way meant to be a carping blog but there is something curious about the coverage in one quarter that has puzzled me for some time and I think it is all right to share my thoughts, because it is an area that affects many artists and is very difficult to address without either becoming frustrated at one’s powerlessness or overreacting. Simply explaining it and inviting reflections from others seems a valid thing to do.
By 2008, I had noticed that a prominent reviewer in the Age newspaper in Melbourne seemed to have begun to ignore my performances. If I took part in a concert, my contribution would not be mentioned; if I gave a solo concert, it would be overlooked. I assumed I was simply being oversensitive. Anyway, arts reviews are hanging onto their place in our media by their fingernails, so it might well have been the result of quite reasonable sub editing. Then, by June 2009, I noticed that my compositions were receiving the same treatment, for reasons that remain unclear. Even when a concert including one of my works was reviewed, all works except mine would be addressed. Since my piece Black is the Night was played by the ACO in June that year, no mention of my work has been made. I noted this in my blog entry and included a link to the review by Clive O’Connell at the time. I did wonder what it meant, and began to be curious about how my year’s contribution to Musica Viva’s national programme in 2011 would be reported.
As it happens, it has been widely reported and I’m more than delighted by the opportunity, the wonderful performances, the chance to meet so many people, and of course just to hear so much of my music for the first time. The press coverage has been extensive, almost overwhelming, and generally very positive. In light of this, the continuing boycott by O’Connell is, I suppose, a minor thing, but it is still a mystery. The latest review is a good example. In May, the Brentano String Quartet played my first string quartet. This is what O’Connell had to say.
It has now been three years since I was mentioned in this particular column, and I have been involved in something like twenty Melbourne concerts during that time. Elsewhere, the coverage has been pretty much as one would expect. Melbourne is my home town. It’s a great city and a lot of superb art events happen there, supported by a music-loving, art-mad cultured community, who not only want to enjoy their art to the full, but are proud of their local artists and expect them at least to be given a look-in and critiqued by those in the local media who are paid to do that.
People are starting to ask me about it and I cannot tell them anything, except just to keep coming to the concerts and to enjoy them! The rest is beyond our control but we can, at least, remark on it, can’t we?