Monday, June 12, 2006

Coward! Chicken!

A clash between matters cultural and agricultural – was there a way of resolving it?

Saturday afternoon was the poultry show out at the Royal Hobart Showgrounds. Saturday evening was a concert at the Town Hall. Could we see both and still fit in the Spit Roast at the showgrounds? Well, yes, but it was a close thing.

2006 poultry show

The noise was fairly overwhelming. All those clucking, quacking and crowing birds in one place. To a layman like me, a chicken is a chicken, but walking around the cages one saw an incredible diversity of breeds, sizes and markings. There were plenty of birds I'd never even heard of before.
poultry show purchase

Julie of course had an even more pressing motivation than usual to inspect the birds in the "For Sale" row. Both the Wyandottes that she'd bought at the last sale had died, apparently victims of the cold weather, and she wanted to find replacements.

double-layer poultry

We took the chickens home and returned for the Spit Roast, which offered beef, pork, venison and (um) chicken. I think it would take a more determined diner than me to tuck into a plate of roast chicken while surrounded on all sides by poultry looking over my shoulder.

The meal made us a bit late, but we almost made it on time for the Tasmanian Song Company's concert at the Town Hall.

town hall concert

Where better than the ornately decorated concert room at the Town Hall [built in 1864 with an organ that was once played by Albert Schweitzer] for a concert entitled "Flanders & Swann meet Noel Coward".

Musical director Christopher Waterhouse has been wanting to put on such a concert for some time, ever since he heard an early 1970s album of the music by the vocal group the King's Singers. It was a difficult job to gather the necessary choral arrangements, since most of these works are seldom heard on modern concert stages. But here they were.

Entering late, we were seated at the back of the hall, but my knowledge of the lyrics made up for my imperfect hearing and it was a delight to hear all the old songs performed with such gusto.

Many of Flanders & Swann's songs involve animals and we were treated to renditions of "The Hippopotamus", "The Sloth", "The Warthog", "The Rhinoceros" and "The Ostrich" as well as everyone's favourite "Mud, glorious mud".

I've known these songs most of my life since I had a teacher who wisely decided there was no use trying to get boys to work during the last week of the school year. Instead, he brought in a gramophone and played us some of his favourite records – always including at least one album of Flanders & Swann. Even at that age I could appreciate the vocal dexterity and clever lyrics.

Allan Bacon and Darren Sangwell performed most of these, while Robert Jarman breezed in every few minutes to portray Noel Coward and offer us a convincing re-creation of Coward performing such songs as "Nina", "I've been to a marvellous party" and "Let's do it."

The evening came to a close with the audience joining in to sing "White Cliffs of Dover" and "We'll Meet Again."

The last was appropriate, since it was announced that the Song Company plans another concert in November focusing on Gershwin and Rogers & Hammerstein.

We shall be there.

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1 comment:

L. Riofrio said...

Hello Mike: I am making my first visit to Tasmania in July and came upon your blog. Good info! I hope to get some photos for my science blog