Sydney Conservatorium of music – Manly Beach – Sydney at night

A break from the library, I had a meeting with Neal Peres Da Costa, Professor of Historical Perfomance at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. It was wonderful to meet someone who is so enthusiastic about historical performance and sustaining relationships with organisations such as SLM to create projects such as The Dowling Project. This project brought students from the Conservatorium into a historic house to perform music. It was a rare opportunity for the students to experience this music in its originally intended setting, something that quite frankly there needs to be more of and that projects such as Sound HeritageSound Heritage Ireland and the upcoming Sound Heritage Sydney have and will highlight. I cannot express how happy I am to finally be formally part of one of these events, not only for my personal research interests but also to see these amazing houses brought back to life rather than mere ghostly statues of a once vibrant existence. It was also lovely to here that Neal faces similar institutional challenges when it comes to encouraging musicians (particularly singers) to move into historical performance. Using historical treatises and archives for the benefit of performance can provide a wealth of information, but it is not enough to simply learn the notes and regugitate the difficult ornamentation. The music is designed to be performed by singers who were acutely aware of their capabilities and personal style. In this light, the music represents a new way of thinking about performance, one that is equally about the performer and composer. It is adaptable, moveable and allows freedom for the performer to make changes depending on their thoughts, feelings and career growth. This is why anontated music such as the Chapman collection is fascinating. It is not just a snapshot into historical performance, but a personal reflection of Chapman herself and how she was influenced by the culture of performance that surrounded her. 

In the latter half of the morning, I spent time in the library researching secondary source material on the Scots in Australia – any recommended reading on this would be most welcome –  before deciding to take the afternoon off to do some sightseeing. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and the perfect day for a visit to Manly Beach. 

The ferry ride, which takes 30 minutes from Sydney Harbour was beautiful, but a little rocky in places. The captain was quick to announce that there was a larger than normal swell and we should remain seating or run the risk of going into the choppy ocean. This didn’t stop me grabbing a few snaps of the amazing scenery!

Once at Manly, the beach was full of sunbathers and surfers who were hitting the waves. Unfortunately, I had left my bathing suit at home so just went paddling in the gorgeously turquoise ocean. 

Manly has a very different vibe to the city centre. It is much more relaxed and filled with unique shops. The main highlight is obviously the beach, but they also have a marine conservation area and plenty of coastal walks. Just watch out for the giant huntsmen spiders and lizards that make an appearance in the warm weather!

In the evening, we headed out to see what the Sydney nightlife had to offer, but there are very strict lock down laws, which means if you want to have a typical Glasgow night, you better get into a bar and stay there before 10pm. We took a trip to the top of the Shangri-la Hotel, one of the tallest skyscrapers in the city, to have another look at the breathtaking view!

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