THIS WEEK'S FEATURE ARTICLES
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Out of the chamber, into halls of fame
Cosy afternoons, or evening soirées; a warming cup of tea, or a glass of Madeira, port, or ratafia; a spread of comfort food – and some gentle music played by a competent and enthusiastic group. Once upon a time this was the way genteel society enjoyed what was known, appropriately, as chamber music. But change was in the air. “The nineteenth century saw chamber music move out of the ‘chamber’, that is the private homes for which the Classical repertoire was written, and into the concert hall,” writes Peter Laki of www.kennedy-center.org “Not only had the technical difficulty of the chamber music parts grown so that amateur musicians could no longer hope to master them, the music itself began to take on symphonic proportions, both in size and complexity.” In 1785, well before the above-mentioned nineteenth century, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart received a commission for three piano quartets. However, his publisher, Franz Hoffmeister, deemed one of them – Piano Quartet in G minor – too difficult to be played. His opinion was borne out in one of the first reviews it received: “as performed by amateurs it could not please; everybody yawned with boredom.” Disdain for the amateur musician was emphasized as the reviewer continued, “what a difference when this work of art is performed with the highest degree of accuracy by four skilled musicians who have studied it carefully.” A century later, when Johannes Brahms wrote his own Piano Quartet in G minor, he also joined the list of composers whose music, hitherto relegated to the ‘chamber’ variety, was considered now elevated to those ‘symphonic proportions’. These two complex and significant pieces of music will be played by four very definitely skilled and highly regarded musicians at Kettering on September 24th. Each is a professional musician, leaders in their respective disciplines. As they can be guaranteed to “have studied (both pieces) carefully”, boredom will most definitely have no place at this recital.
The Kettering Quartet
Violinist Emma McGrath debuted in London at age ten, and at fourteen reinforced the musical world’s opinion of her as a “first-magnitude star in the making” when she performed as soloist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in a performance of Bruch’s Violin Concerto No 1. As part of his extensive musical education, both in Australia and Europe, violist William Newbery gained first class honours in the Advanced Performance Programme at the Australian National Academy of Music. Cellist Brett Rutherford has recently retired from the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. He played with various orchestras and ensembles, from London to Sydney, before joining the TSO and has continued a similar involvement in the musical world since his official retirement. Like her fellow members of the Kettering Quartet, pianist Jennifer Marten-Smith undertook valuable study programs in Europe. Jennifer debuted as soloist with the TSO at age sixteen playing Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor, becoming two years later the youngest graduate of the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music. Professional to the hilt, all four musicians have the skills and dedication to their chosen fields of music to perform those two virtuosic pieces of
Stunning piano quartets
Johannes Brahms himself gave an early performance of his reputedly difficult Piano Quartet in G minor, but honours for its première went, as was traditional with Brahms, to that brilliant composer and pianist, Clara Schumann. The musical website www.kellydeanhansen.com says, “this is an extremely significant work … one of (Brahms’) earliest masterpieces of the Hamburg second period … [it is] of huge proportions. Each movement is laid out on an enormous scale.” Following the intensely lyrical mood of the slow movement, the finale is considered a virtuoso showpiece and an early example of the gypsy-inspired music that would surface throughout Brahms’ career. Composing almost a century earlier, Mozart’s quartet was written at a time when the harpsichord was still widely used. When Hoffmiester offered him the commission for three quartets, Mozart, a darling in Viennese social and musical circles, was pleased to accept for he needed the money to support his lifestyle among these circles and his penchant for fancy clothing. Plenty of amateur musicians were keen to perform for the gentry, including royalty, at those so-popular soirées. Mozart, however, had taken a liking to the pianos gradually taking the place of the harpsichord, and composed with the piano and his own virtuosity in mind. He composed, in effect, a mini-concerto too difficult for most of the Viennese amateurs, displeased Hoffmeister, who had dreamt of making his own fortune, and set in motion changes that would essentially sound the death-knell for salon, or chamber, music as it had once been known. However, while the Kettering Hall is neither salon nor concert hall, at 3pm on Sunday 24th September, for $15 a ticket – door sales only – you can hear and decide for yourselves the merits of these two pieces.
Caring for sheep in extreme weather
Ahh! Spring. Don’t you just love it? Just when you think it’s here, there’s another burst of cold blustery conditions, then it’s nice again. The old saying alluding to Tasmania’s changeable climate: “Do you like our weather? Well stick around for the day, we’ll give you another three seasons” has more than a ring of truth. Recently, after one such prolonged period of cold and wetness we received word about the need for farmers to care for their sheep in the extreme weather conditions. As the message was received during a sudden surge of fine, warm sunshiney weather, it seemed irrelevant – for about half a day. Later, standing in the paddock, listening to the sound of bleating lambs, we were aware of an imminent weather change, yet again. Our neighbour’s sheep, an elderly flock of ewes and wethers, were still woolly, and old enough to know what to do in adverse weather. These sheep are closely watched through the fence by our herd of three alpacas, who take their self-imposed guard duty seriously. Observing the stance of the alpacas is a good indicator of what is happening to the sheep. In paddocks further afield, little lambs were carrying on with little lamby-kins “I-want-my-Mum” cries.
Weather precautions for sheep
The warning from Biosecurity Tasmania, urging owners of sheep to be vigilant for any signs in their flock of cold stress brought about by the recent icy conditions was suddenly timely again. Newly shorn sheep and newly born lambs could be suffering due to the weather conditions. All reasonable precautions should be taken to minimise the effects of cold stress. Although I like sheep (in a one-on-one situation) poor sheep are much maligned for being stupid. In a fanciful (and not very serious way) I rather like the thought of sheep having knitted tartan coats, but that wouldn’t work for a proper flock, and require some extreme or fast knitting! Here is some more sensible and serious information about sheep behaviour, which this hobby farmer found quite informative. “Sheep have a natural insulation to extreme weather with their fleece. In cold, wet and windy conditions, sheep shiver, huddle together in the mob and seek shelter behind windbreaks to produce and conserve heat. However, these mechanisms have limits. If weather stress is excessive or prolonged, the sheep’s capacity to maintain a stable body temperature may be exceeded and cold stress will result. Hypothermia most commonly occurs in freshly shorn, light condition sheep during wet and windy conditions at any time of the year. Hypothermia literally means ‘temperature below normal’, occurs when too much body heat is lost or too little body heat is produced, and the result is a drop in body temperature. If weather stress is excessive or prolonged, a sheep’s capacity to maintain a stable body temperature may be exceeded, and heat or cold stress will result. High rainfall and high winds combined with temperatures below normal will cause mortalities in young animals, especially newly shorn sheep without shelter. The impact of the cold weather will depend on its duration, rainfall, wind speed and temperature – the ‘wind chill’ factor can double heat loss. Sheep suffering from hypothermia often die as a result of their own behaviour and their attempts to cope. Sheep move in the direction of the wind until they are stopped by a barrier such as a fence, gully or creek. At this point they may pile on top of each other leading to suffocation or drowning. Sheep may be reluctant or unable to move when wet and cold. Sheep will try to maintain their body temperature by shallow breathing in order to reduce the rate of respiration (that is, rapid respiration or panting causes heat loss); shivering; seeking shelter and huddling together.” Some sheep owners, if dealing with a small flock, may consider applying garbage bags as coats for the sheep. Trials have shown that properly fitted plastic bags can decrease the loss of body heat even in severely hypothermic sheep (forget the knitted tartan coats, Merlene.) If you require more information look at the DPIPWE/Biosecurity Tasmania website:
Their suggestions are a lot more sensible than mine.
Weed warning – again
When a circular email pops into one’s email letterbox, as a notification of a new version or a new publication of a treasured booklet or brochure, it’s often pleasurable. Recently, NRM South sent out news of comings and goings in the Natural Resource Management field, and information about the Updated Weeds Guide for Southern Tasmania. As the old booklet, my bible of weeds and weed identification was becoming worn, it was good to see that a new publication was available. Originally published by NRM South and the Southern Tasmanian Councils Authority, in March 2010, the revised and republished March 2017, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme, was a welcome addition to my collection of Weed Warrior reading matter. When the web version is followed up with the real thing, it’s even better, as was the case with the newest Weed Warning booklet. I spoke to Ruth Osborne, Regional Landcare Facilitator (community) at NRM South, and she obligingly sent out some copies. The reprinted booklet is slightly bigger, incorporating 76 species of weeds and including a new listing for Holly, which was recently listed as a Declared Weed under the Tasmanian Weed Management Act.
What’s a weed when it’s not at home?
Some of the weeds we are used to seeing are broom, boneseed, gorse, blackberries, capeweed, sea spurge, marram grass, willows, ivy, Cotoneaster, fennel, foxglove, Agapanthas, red valerian, Montbretia and The Pride of Madieira, an Echium which is grown everywhere. Just in case you don’t know about weeds, it’s a good idea to get some definitions: There are declared weeds and WONS, which are Weeds Of National Significance. Declared Weeds are listed under the Tasmanian Weed Management Act 1999. Declared Weeds have a special legal status that requires landowners and managers to eradicate or control them. See the DPIPWE website for a full list. WONS, the Weeds of National Significance, are priority weeds that are considered to have a serious potential to negatively affect landscapes based on their invasiveness, potential for spread and environmental, social and economic impacts. WONS require coordination among all levels of government, organisations and individuals with weed management responsibilities. Environmental weeds are non-local plants that invade and change our landscapes, threatening the survival of native plants and animals. Agricultural weeds are also non-local plants that invade our productive areas, including grazing and cropping lands, orchards and berry farms, dairy farms and vineyards. It is said that the impact of weeds on agriculture is over $60 million annually. Weeds can come from all over the world. They can even be Australian native plants outside their natural range – these out-of-place natives can be just as devastating as foreign plants. In the past 25 years, at least 65% of all plants that have become weeds in Australia were deliberately introduced as garden plants! (Unfortunately, some weed-category plants are still sold in some nurseries.) Weeds, spread by wind, birds or dumped garden waste, can take over natural and agricultural landscapes. Weeds can also be spread by boots, vehicles, contaminated soil, mud, gravel, agricultural produce, stock and feed.
I’ve been banging on about weeds for what seems like decades, and have been handing out copies of weed publications to those interested in caring for the environment for about the same time. Before you faze out over the thought of weed warnings, the ‘Weed Warning’ booklet explains why we should all care. It’s a bit of a cute pun to say it, but weeds are a growing problem. Agricultural and environmental weeds need to be controlled because they:
• take over huge areas of natural coast and bushland (broom, boneseed)
• take over huge areas of agricultural land (gorse, blackberries)
• destroy animal habitat (sea spurge)
• impact on coastal processes (marram grass)
• change the shape and ecology of waterways (willows)
• hinder the regrowth of natives (Spanish heath, gorse, boneseed)
• restrict access (blackberries, African boxthorn, gorse)
• can be a danger to human health (arum lilies, ivy).
What if we don’t control weeds?
Tasmania still has many areas of natural biodiversity that are worth protecting. If we do nothing about weeds, Tasmania’s unique natural landscapes will be lost forever and agricultural land will become less productive. Every moment we ignore weeds, the further they spread. Correct identification is the first step. If you are uncertain about weed identification or the most appropriate control method, seek advice from your local council or from DPIPWE. There are a range of biosecurity resources on the NRM South website and the Washdown Guidelines for Weed and Disease Control can also be found on the DPIPWE website. NRM South: www.nrmsouth.org.au/biosecurity/ DPIPWE: dpipwe.tas.gov.au.
Changing the date
There has been a lot of discussion about changing certain dates in our calendar of late but this is not a new thing.
On our travels we had a week with no Thursday as we crossed the International Date Line. Often we had to put watches back or forward and ‘lose’ or ‘gain’ an hour.
Days, dates and even time have not always been standardised as they are in our present day. Synchronising the clocks was not important until you had to have timetables for railways and industry. Societies were based around agriculture, and followed the pattern of the natural world. Time pieces of any sort were very expensive, so most relied on a clock tower and ringing of the bells. Shakespeare’s Sonnet XII begins, “When I do count the clock that tells the time.”
‘Standard Time’ was a concept established during the 19th century to aid train travel but it was not applied globally until the 20th century.
So what about dates? Anyone interested in researching their family history will be aware that calendars have been changed.
Many European countries switched from the older Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar in the 1580s. However, the British Isles clung to the Julian calendar. And for the next 170 years or so, the British Isles were out of step with most of the rest of Europe. This meant that Europe was 10 days later than the British Isles until 1700 and 11 days later after the 28th of February 1700. This continued until 1752 when an act of Parliament announced that the British Isles would conform to the Gregorian calendar.
There were riots about the change! In September 1752, 11 days were to be missed out. And the slogan of the riots was “Give us back our 11 days.” The reason for that was not superstition as some historians have thought – the notion that Christmas Day would fall in the wrong place, or that a deity had ordained the day on which everybody was going to die, so everybody would lose 11 days of their life. No, the real reason was much more mundane! It was because wage labourers were paid by the day. But they paid their rent for their lodgings every month. So, in September 1752, they had only 19 days’ pay with which to pay 30 days’ rent.
There was also debate for a long time about which date was the start of the year! For some legal and formal purposes, the new year was deemed to begin not on the 1st of January, but on the 25th of March. So, if your research takes you to records concerning diplomatic, international, or military history between the 1580s and 1752, it depends which country they refer to. The European countries that adopted the Gregorian calendar in the 1580s settled on the 1st of January as the start of the new year. Scotland stuck to the Julian calendar but nonetheless adopted the 1st of January for the new year. England preferred to keep the 25th of March as the start of the new year. So confusion reigned!
In the end, the 1752 Act of Parliament made the 1st of January the first day of the year throughout the British Isles.
Another complication can be how a date is written. Even in our own times different countries write the date in a different order. Some prefer to put the month first, others the day, and it is becoming more common to put the year first 2017-9-12 but even then, it can also be written as 2017-12-9.
But imagine if we still used the form of writing the date according to the year of the King or Queen’s reign. One clerk, on behalf of King James VI and I, wrote “The 17th day of August in the first year of our reign over England.” We might remember that Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603, and that King James succeeded her. So, the first year of our ‘reign over England’ is 1603. But what if it says ‘the 35th year of Elizabeth’s reign’ or the ‘19th year of George II’s reign’. Many of us would have great difficulties.
So, knowing what happened in history, we realise that ‘nothing is set in stone’.
Recycling in Kingborough
There is increasing community interest about where Kingborough’s recycling is sent and what happens to it.
The following happens to recyclables collected at the Barretta Waste Transfer Station:
• Glass is sent to HBMI at Leslie Vale for crushing and re-use as road base and bitument products.
• Scrap metal is collected by Sims Metal Management and sent to the mainland for shredding and smelting for new products.
• Plastics, cardboard and paper products are transported to the SKM recycling centre at Lutana for baling and transport to the mainland for re-sale.
Kingborough’s comingled kerbside recyclables are collected by Aussie Waste and transported to the SKM recycling centre at Lutana and processed as above.
The following products are also recycled from Barretta:
• Cooking oil – collected and processed into Bio-Diesel
• AgVet Chemical Containers – collected and recycled through the DrumMuster program.
• Mobile phones are collected and recycled through the MobileMuster program.
• Tyres are collected, chipped and sent to the mainland for re-use through the Tyrecycle program.
• E-waste is collected and sent to the mainland for recycling through the TechCollect program.
• Paint is collected and sent to the mainland through the
• Timber is chipped and sent to Brighton to be used as a fuel source with the by-product used in compost.
• Green waste is chipped and sent to Brighton to be used in composting products.
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