Latest Update – April 2024

It has been a while since I updated this site and let you all know what has been happening in my life.

Nearly two years ago, as a result of COVID and other events that were a result of COVID, I decided to sell up in Canberra and move to beautiful Launceston to open a small Bed and Breakfast. This was a real change for me that I really enjoyed. It was however, a time when there was little or no music in my life and was quite removed from the activities I have been heavily involved in for all of my career.

I very much enjoyed running the boutique B&B where I was able to meet some very interesting people, mostly travellers from around the world, and share in their stories and experiences. Most often too, they were interested in my journey as to how I got there. People were so surprised when I informed them of my past life, but like so many, COVID had impacted so many lives in such dramatic ways.

Running a B&B was hard, honest work, and running it on my own meant that there was no time to really escape. The business side of it was very fickle. In the warmer months it could be very busy but as soon as it started to get cold the business went completely dead. All the big hotels around town slashed their prices so much so that the smaller businesses could not compete. That is why we see so many adverts for travelling to Tasmania on the television right now.

So, after giving the business my best shot for 18 months, I decided to quit while I was ahead and move on. There were other factors also that came into this equation. I believe there is a point in one’s life when you suddenly feel quite old, forgotten and your body is tired. I reached that point. I also came to the realisation that in the coming years I was going to need people around me could be there for me. In Tasmania, sadly, there were none of these. The medical implications and complications of having COVID a second time while I was in Japan about 15 months ago, have impacted the effects of the first bout. Medical issues are something that I now need to contend with, probably for the rest of my life.

Even though I did not really want to, I decided to return to Canberra where I have used some of my assets and gone into “early retirement”. This allows me to do any of the work that I want to, without the stresses of having to earn a weekly wage to survive – as I have done as a freelancer for the past 40 years. I am able to survive on a very meagre weekly amount that I pay myself, but I am not complaining about that.

I am still involved in music activities though recently I have had to cancel my 6th visit and tour with the fabulous Taiwan Festival Youth Choir and appointment to the Jury of the Tokyo International Choral Competition, to accommodate dealing with some of these medical issues. I am hoping that I will still be able to be on the Jury of the Busan International Choral Competition in South Korea in October.

I hate getting old but I am so honoured to be having the opportunity.

In recent times I have completed a new work titled “Difference” for Kim Sutherland and the Hunter Singers who commemorate their 35th anniversary later in the year. Just this week I have completed a new commission titled “Mountain Meeting” for the soprano Nina Kobe, digeridoo player, Chris Williams, and the Southern Cross Soloists in Brisbane for performance in June this year. With Nina and Chris both from the Wakka Wakka people, the text was selected and given permission from the Wakka Wakka Cultural Council. This was a very interesting project where the words needed to be in language and utilise the skills of a master didge player as well as a famed up and coming Wakka Wakka woman opera singer – so it was really like bringing all the elements and cultures together – much like I have been trying to do with many of my compositions over 40 years.

Even though I have been criticised for elements of my work with indigenous people over the years, I believe it is about building bridges between cultures through words and music that bring us somewhere closer together – it should not be what pushes difference apart. I make no apology for me trying to build these bridges through my music and interactions over 40 years. as I worked with different groups across the country.

In my investigations I was buoyed to see that the Wakka Wakka language is now being taught in some Queensland schools and there is a renewed interest in preserving the language.

So, as I sit here, on to my next project here in a chilly Canberra morning. I have been working for some time with a long-time colleague who was the former Head of the English Department at St Peters Lutheran College in Brisbane, while I was doing numerous Composer in Residencies there back in the 80s and 90s. Now retired, Jane Greenwood, and I have been working up a libretto for a new major choral work commissioned by the Brisbane Chamber Choir. The subject material is challenging but I hope it will take me to some different compositional places.

I rarely hear from my colleagues and friends around Australia and across the globe these days – I think that COVID has a lot to do with people shutting doors and closing the shutters – but I really do enjoy catching up and seeing what is going on in your world. If you have read this far, I would really look forward to hearing from you.

Stay healthy and happy, life is too short not to be.