SLM Research – Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb

I am approaching the end of my first day of research and so far the collections have turned up some fascinating finds and questions – many of which I will muse on in the coming posts. I have digressed from my explorations on the Scottish collection to look at some music a little closer to my area of expertise – singing.

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SLM have a rather vast collection of music from Emma Joseph nee Chapman, a British singer who studied with Domenico Crivelli at the Royal Academy of Music before emigrating with her family to Cape Town. At this point, information about Emma disappears and it is possible that she past away but her son and husband came to Sydney and brought her music collections with them.

There are 2 massive volumes, one entitled ‘English songs’ and the other is presumably Italian, though the binding has completely fallen apart, suggesting this volume was in more frequent use.

Inside, the is a fascinating portrait of repertoire sung by a student at the Royal Academy only 20 years after it was established (the RAM was established in 1822 and Emma enrolled in 1842). There is even a piece by her teacher Crivelli! Even more fascinating is the detail of pencil markings through the Italian volume. Barely an aria goes by without some kind of ornamentation written in but the English volume is quite opposite. Though there are a few pencilled in markings, overall the volume is relatively bare. More work will need to be carried out to see if the markings match with Crivelli’s suggestions from his treatise and indeed, if the ornamentation fits with printed ornamentation from the period and written in markings produced by other singers.

After working hard in the library, the evening was spent doing something very touristy indeed – climbing over the top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge! This is definitely a tourist attraction for the bucket list and one that many may not take advantage of! Yes, the bridge is high but it feels quite safe: you are harnessed in and there is a waist height barrier that you follow the whole way up and down. At the top, there are some absolutely breathtaking views of Sydney Harbor, the Opera House and the whole city. We did the twilight walk and had the advantage of seeing the sun go down as we headed for the summit of the bridge.

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The knowledgeable tour leader gave insights into the history and geography of the harbor and he took plenty of pictures as you made your way around. Only downside to the whole experience was that the pictures were not included in the rather hefty admission price. They sneakily hide the photo purchasing booth at the very end of the experience (and after having you fill out the feedback form!) Just slightly annoying, but a breathtaking experience otherwise.

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