After catching a good amount of rest last night, today I had the challenge of navigating around a new city. To my surprise, Sydney’s train system is fantastic and everything is very well sign posted so it is really no trouble to get to where you need to go.
My first visit for today was Sydney Living Museums – my institutional home for the next few weeks. I am being hosted by Dr Matthew Stephens who is a research librarian at the Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection. Though was only to be a brief meeting, he already has some books laid out so that I could have a quick scan of what the collections had in story. I also learned the fascinating history of the Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection, which has an amazing collection of tapestries, fabrics and materials from historic homes. Though the library does not commonly deal with music, sheet music has naturally become part of the collection since it was such an important part of material culture throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. I also have the fortune of working within the oldest public building in Sydney!
After just a quick scan through the books, there are indeed some gems, stories and many questions to be asked. But, I am sure these will be asked in future blog posts! One thing to note is that these are bound collections that were used after being bound – something that is quite rare to see when examining British collections. And, rarer still, I came across printed Gaelic airs including Si Morag bheag nan dluth chiabh.: Morag, which seems to only appear as in microfilm at the BL and in one collection in the states! More on this one soon.
As the feeling of jetlag set in, I decided to return to my home base for my R&R before heading out for this evenings entertainment. But that wasn’t before the typical tourist snaps at Sydney’s to tourist attractions.
Although it was rainy today, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House are just wonderful feats of architecture and well worth a visit, if only to stand outside!
But, no musician can travel this far and not hear a concert in Sydney Opera House. This evening we were treated to a concert entitled ‘Young Russians’. The programme included PROKOFIEV Classical Symphony, RACHMANINOFF Piano Concerto No.1 (featuring Daniil Trifonov, winner of the Tchaikovsky Competition) SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No.1 all performed by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (SSO). The Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich were breath-taking. The sound of the orchestra was unusually warm, inviting you into these provocatively dramatic pieces. However, the Prokofiev was a little undercooked. The performance was certainly clean, but seemed to lack a special character that would have made the Classical Symphony really sparkle. Perhaps it would have benefitted from a nod to HIPP concepts?
Overall, the first day in Sydney has been fun-filled and full of promise. One thing to note is that there is a distinct lack of music when moving around public spaces. In fact, there was no public music making at all in my brief walk round the city. Coming from Glasgow, where the streets are filled with buskers this struck me as rather odd. Maybe in another part of the city…