Only the Brave
Sitting in on Queensland Ballet’s rehearsals with the company’s artistic director Li Cunxin.
The 12 graceful young men move together like a pod of mythical sea creatures, cresting, breaching, elegantly powering through the space as if it is water. Piqué. Arabesque. Sauté. The absolute control over their bodies.
This article appeared in The Saturday Paper Edition No 253, May 18 -24, 2019. Read full article here.
A chat amongst the books in a Brisbane bookshop institution.
The colourful stripes of Bent Books beckon through the rain – blue, yellow and red – so I prop my umbrella by the door and enter a room crowded with books, stacked into floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that divide the space like a maze. The ambience is shuttered light, creaking floorboards and the intoxicating alchemy of eucalyptus wiped over old books. It is like stepping into another world, far from Brisbane’s West End and yet entirely at home there.
This article appeared in The Saturday Paper Edition No 248, April 13 -19, 2019. Read full article here.
Staging New Worlds
A chat with theatre designer Tracy Grant Lord, side stage at a rehearsal for Twelfth Night.
We are seated two along from music legend Tim Finn. Director Sam Strong and his wife are one row in front. The performance of Twelfth Night is immersive and entertaining, full of drama and colour, curlicued language and outrageous plot twists. We are transported to the magical world of Illyria, where we live happily for almost three hours, the theatre seats dissolving around us.
Catching up with Australasia’s only female principal trumpet player, Sarah Butler.
Growing up, the children who played brass instruments were muscular and solid. All of them – on trumpet, French horn, trombone, tuba – were boys. Every. Single. One. I can recall girls playing piano, flute and violin, but the brass section of our school band, our town’s marching band, the Scout band and the church band were all entirely male. There was something instinctively masculine about those instruments, and about how they were played. Or so I thought.
This article appeared in The Saturday Paper Edition No 221, September 8 -14, 2018. Read full article here.
The author reflects on the impending birth of her granddaughter.
My first grandchild is due any day now. Waiting to be a grandparent is different to the expectancy of parenthood: a keener anticipation of joy and wonder, a fuller understanding of the fleeting nature of childhood.
This article appeared in The Saturday Paper Edition No 206, May 26 – June 1, 2018. Read full article here.
Point of Sail
Taking the ‘Angel Wing’ through the waters of the near north with ADF officer Amanda Johnston.
Even before she got on the boat, Amanda Johnston had done her fair share of travelling: 54 countries at last count. She was in the military for 25 years, deployed to Timor, Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea and the Middle East. In 2016, when an army colleague sent her a text message asking if she was interested in buying a boat, she thought, “Why not?”
This article appeared in The Saturday Paper Edition No 197, Mar 24 – 30, 2018. Read full article here.
Time to Reflect
Reflecting on what’s lost with the passing of a generation.
In November, my grandmother celebrated her 110th birthday. The oldest woman in Queensland, she had become increasingly frail, slipping towards death even though she surprised us each day by clinging to life. Five days before Christmas, she passed away quietly in her sleep. One moment she was here, and the next she was not. It is fragile and tissue-paper thin, this line between life and death; the smallest break and we pass from one to the other. I am writing this on the day my grandmother finally let go.
This article appeared in The Saturday Paper Edition No 192, Feb 17 – 23, 2018. Read full article here.
Code of Conducting
At home with the music director of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Alondra de la Parra.
Alondra de la Parra commands the orchestra with short, sharp movements and sweeping, confident gestures, her right hand brandishing the baton, her left describing the graceful arc of a swan’s neck, her fingers trailing through the air. Her posture is assured yet relaxed, her movements languid as she guides the watchful musicians in the rhythm and tempo of the concerto, highlighting the famous Hungarian violinist Barnabás Kelemen. From the opening strains, the orchestra beguiles us.
De la Parra founded her own orchestra when she was 23. She has led more than 70 orchestras around the world as guest conductor. Now 37, and recently appointed music director of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, she is on a mission to encourage diverse audiences to engage with accessible and comprehensible performances.
This article appeared in The Saturday Paper Edition No 191, Feb 10 – 16, 2018. Read full article here.
A conversation with Tasman Bain, co-founder of PNG gender-equality charity Meri Toksave.
When I meet Tasman Bain I know, among other things, that he once gained the respect of various military advisers by eating 15 boiled potatoes at the Polish consulate in New York. I know that he is an advocate for young people and social justice, and is involved in international policy work, gender equality, human rights and sustainable development. I know that he was recognised as a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, that he is a polymath and that he once danced with the deputy secretary-general of the United Nations. I also know that he is 24.
This article appeared in The Saturday Paper Edition No 187, Dec 16 – 22, 2017. Read full article here.
The Good Fight
Fighting the good fight for veterans.
Terry O’Connor comes from a large Irish Catholic family, brimming with lawyers and military servicemen. His father, a labourer, the youngest of 13 children, served in World War II and, despite only primary school education, spent many years as a welfare officer for the Returned and Services League, preparing and lodging claims. Terry’s older brother was killed in Vietnam.
This article appeared in The Saturday Paper Edition No 184, Nov 25 – Dec 1, 2017. Read full article here.
One Child at a Time
The woman working to keep Sierra Leone’s children in school.
Jane Shakespeare was deeply affected in her travels through Sierra Leone. The Ebola crisis, which left more than 12,000 children without parents, came after a near-11-year civil war. In one of the world’s poorest countries, aid agencies struggle to provide basics such as food, clean water and medicines, to treat preventable birth injuries such as fistulas, to protest against genital mutilation and child soldiers. Strangers shelter abandoned or orphaned children at risk of exploitation, discrimination and malnutrition. About 42 per cent of the population are under 14, and yet one of the most glaring deficiencies is education, critical for the country’s growth but often disregarded simply because of cost: carers cannot afford school fees or books, and even young children are required to work.
This article appeared in The Saturday Paper Edition No 179, Oct 21 – 27, 2017. Read full article here.
A chance meeting with an elderly musician draws the author into his troubled life.
We met by chance. I had no idea he was a skilled architect, or that he danced the tango, or that his playing of the haunting doina lament on violin was beautiful enough to make you weep.
“I’m thinking of writing my memoir,” he said. He wore the colourful clothing of a younger man, a bohemian. His head was bald. “Call me Moshlo,” he said. I wondered if that was his first name or his last.
We exchanged emails. Almost 80, Morrice Shaw preferred to answer to the diminutive name his mother had used when he was small. We emailed about inconsequential things, only a handful of times; the doina intrigued me. Then my last few emails went unanswered.
This article appeared in The Saturday Paper Edition No 171, Aug 26 – Sep 1, 2017. Read The Saturday Paper article here.
The published The Saturday Paper article was an edited version of a longer piece. Click here to read the full story.
My grandmother at 109
Looking back on the long life of the oldest Queenslander.
Her heart is old now, and tired. I imagine the physical process of the blood coursing through atria and ventricles, the ageing heart muscle clenching and relaxing, pumping the blood on the long journey through the veins and tributaries of her body. I imagine the beats becoming sluggish, slower, with the constant effort of motion: expand and contract; breathe in and breathe out.
She is 109 years old. Her heart has kept its beat, steady and sure, about four-and-a-half billion times.
This article appeared in The Saturday Paper Edition No 156, May13-19, 2017. Read full article here.
© 2017 by Cass Moriarty