VUCA

Volatility. Uncertainty. Complexity. Ambiguity. It’s a military term that has taken off in leadership management circles the past few years, but I think it’s also an apt description for this time of living through a world-wide pandemic. I’ve never been great at ambiguity and uncertainty, but I’ve accepted this is where things are for now and perhaps a lot longer than any of us can guess.

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I’ve realised looking around my house there are certain themes of freedom, travel and movement represented, which is probably why it’s hard to stay at home when there’s a compulsion to move forward (just like our national symbols the kangaroo and the emu) and feel free. I think it’s why I love birds and what they symbolise.

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I was very taken with Cai Guo-Qiang’s Murmuration installation of 10,000 porcelain birds last year as part of the Terracotta Warriors exhibition at the NGV. And I wasn’t the only one given the gallery was able to successfully fundraise to secure his largest ever porcelain artwork as part of its contemporary art collection. Closer to home, the Freedom Bird project created by local artist Helen Platania invites children, adults, crafters and artists alike to download a 3D bird for a collaborative, community art project.

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I was watching The Teskey Brothers perform in the empty NGV as part of The State of Music last night. La Trobe University sponsors both the NGV and The Australian Ballet and performing arts companies are doing it very hard at the moment. The Australian Ballet, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Victorian Arts Centre are all running free digital performances and I feel very lucky to live in a time where many of us can continue to work from home and be entertained with video on demand and livestream.

Drive-in cinemas look set to re-open in coming months but with that innovation too around drive-in live music and theatre shows, similar to what is being done in Europe as social distancing measures continue. Might need to rug up over winter but I think it’s a great idea to keep the music going!

Me and Mr Jones

Australian jazz musician Vince Jones was often on high rotation on our vinyl turntable when Mr Rosanna and I lived in our little terrace house in Brunswick before married life and children arrived. We’d spend lazy Saturday mornings sleeping in, buying fresh bread and cannoli from the local Italian bakery in East Brunswick where Mr R would also often pop his head into our friend Marsden’s second hand record store Muscle Shoals which is still there today.

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While Mr R has previously seen Vince Jones play live, I never have but got the opportunity last night at the Melbourne Recital Centre as part of this week’s Melbourne Jazz Festival. Instead of being in the back row up the top when we saw Olafur Arnalds last year, this time I’d booked early and we were in prime position in the second row front and centre. Vince Jones has had a long and illustrious musical career as well as an interesting life spent living in the United States along with a 10-year musical residency here in Fitzroy, Melbourne.

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Vince’s show last night, accompanied by his 7 piece band, where he played songs that reflected his personal journey in life (including songs by Doris Day and Sam Cooke) was fascinating. I hadn’t realised the political and social commentary that much of his music reflects, nor his activist background accompanying Peter Garrett to Kakadu to protest against uranium mining with local Indigenous people in his younger years. His very humorous and slightly wry observations and words last night, often sung rather than spoken, made for a very entertaining night. He’s now become an elder statesman of the jazz world, similar to Jimmy Barnes in the rock world.

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It was a challenge getting to the city on time last night for the start of the show. After work, I’d rushed home to feed the dog, get ready and pack up before carting children off to babysitters and driving to Clifton Hill station where I promptly jumped on a train to the city before meeting Mr R at Italian Bar and Cantina Fatto at the Arts Centre. We wolfed down a pizza and bowl of chips before sprinting to the Melbourne Recital Centre, which celebrates 10 years this year, arriving just in time to take our seats before the show but still having to excuse ourselves to all the patrons who’d arrived early and taken their seats. Luckily all those jazz cats are a forgiving bunch! Enjoy your long weekend.

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Iceland in Melbourne

Mr Rosanna and I saw Icelandic musician Olafur Arnalds at the Melbourne Recital Centre on Monday night. It was our first visit to the Centre and we loved it – we met my little sister Cat for a drink at Blondie bar outside where I spied singer Clare Bowditch at another table (and who we later saw at the gig) before moving indoors into the amazing and beautiful wood-panelled interior concert space (pictured below).

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We were treated to a journey that was cinematic, orchestral, electronic and ambient all at the same time. Besides Olafur Arnalds on piano/keyboard, there was also a drummer and strings including cello, viola and violins.  The atmospheric set showcased a full sound and light show (below) with a solo encore performance by Arnalds that ended in total silence. It was an incredible experience and he has had an interesting musical apprenticeship listening to classical music as a child (my favourite song of his is Lag Fyrir Ommu dedicated to his grandmother) before being in a punk rock band in his younger years (in some ways similar to his compatriot Icelandic female singer Bjork who has always been a little bit different).

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Summer in the city is exciting – as Mr Rosanna and I walked to the Centre we were treated to a live tango performance in the Victorian Arts Centre forecourt before walking past animated light boxes outside the National Gallery of Victoria which is currently showing the newly opened Escher X Nendo: Between Two Worlds exhibition.  We exited the city close to 11pm and I couldn’t believe the amount of people still walking the streets – Melbourne really has become a bustling 24-hour metropolis.

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Victorian Arts Centre forecourt

A couple of things to mention today – the Wild About Melbourne market is coming to Rosanna Village tomorrow and my yoga friend Susie will be selling her hand poured soy candles tomorrow at the market – a good one in time for Christmas.  If you’re a fan of gin which a number of my colleagues are – the Xmas Gin Market is being held at The Craft and Co in Collingwood on Sunday.  My Uncle Peter has also worked for Yarra Valley-based Four Pillars gin and is a fan.

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Mr R outside the NGV

There’s only a couple of weeks to go before Christmas but I still have my foot flat to the floor with work and other commitments. I hope you get a chance to wind down as we approach the closing weeks of 2019 and start to reflect on the year that’s been.