Category Archives: Music

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev walks across Pariser Platz near the Brandenburg Gate on the e

As Berlin marks fall of wall, Gorbachev warns of new cold war

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev walks across Pariser Platz near the Brandenburg Gate on the e
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev walks across Pariser Platz near the Brandenburg Gate on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Photograph: Target Presse Agentur Gmbh/Getty Images

Ex-Soviet leader backs Putin over Ukraine as Germany celebrates the 25th anniversary of a seminal moment in European history

‘It’s hard to remember how scary it was’ … extraordinary memories of the Berlin Wall

As Berliners watch 8,000 balloons being released into the night sky this evening, old divisions between east and west will symbolically vanish into thin air with them. Yet the runup to the festivities has already served up plenty of reminders that, 25 years after the fall of the wall that divided the city for three decades, the scars of history are hurting more than ever.

Speaking at a symposium near the Brandenburg Gate yesterday morning, former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev warned that the world was “on the brink of a new cold war” and strongly criticised the west for having sown the seeds of the current crisis by mishandling the fallout from the collapse of the iron curtain.

“Instead of building new mechanisms and institutions of European security and pursuing a major demilitarisation of European politics … the west, and particularly the United States, declared victory in the cold war,” said the man behind the Soviet Union’s glasnost and perestroika reforms.

“Euphoria and triumphalism went to the heads of western leaders. Taking advantage of Russia’s weakening and the lack of a counterweight, they claimed monopoly leadership and domination in the world.”

The enlargement of Nato, Kosovo, missile defence plans and wars in the Middle East had led to a “collapse of trust”, said Gorbachev, now 83. “To put it metaphorically, a blister has now turned into a bloody, festering wound.”

Previously an outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin, Gorbachev backed the current Russian president’s stance over Ukraine, urging western leaders to “consider carefully” Putin’s recent remarks at the Valdai forum : “Despite the harshness of his criticism of the west, and of the United States in particular, I see in his speech a desire to find a way to lower tensions and ultimately to build a new basis for partnership.”

Such strong words of criticism, voiced by the man still affectionately known as “Gorbi” to many in Germany, came at the end of a week which has seen the value of the rouble tumbling dramatically as a result of western sanctions.

Friday afternoon had seen another reminder of the old east-west tensions still running through Germany when the usually rather staid proceedings of the Bundestag were shaken up by a musical guest performance. Veteran songwriter Wolf Biermann, who was kicked out of the GDR in 1976, performed a protest song called Ermutigung (Encouragement) and took a number of swipes at politicians from Die Linke (the Left party), successors to East Germany’s ruling party, the SED.

“Your punishment is to have to listen to me here – enjoy”, Biermann said, while gesturing towards the leftwing parliamentarians. He went on to describe Die Linke MPs as “dragon spawn” and “the miserable dregs of something that had luckily been overcome”.

Only last week German president Joachim Gauck, a former head of the Stasi archives, had questioned whether the Left party had “really distanced itself from the ideas the SED once had about repression of people”. Die Linke is on the verge of gaining its first state premier, in the Thuringia region, something Gauck said “people of my age who lived through the GDR find quite hard to accept”.

At the very least, such score-settling should stop this weekend’s festivities, taking place under the motto “courage for freedom”, from turning into a merely nostalgic affair. Events in Berlin will mark the culmination of a remarkable chain of events which resulted in the opening of border checkpoints in Berlin on the night of 9 November 1989. At least 138 people died trying to cross the inner-German border in the capital, more than 1,000 in the country as a whole, in the postwar years.

A host of historic key players and celebrities have already dodged a nationwide train strike in Germany to descend on the capital. Yesterday evening German chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, attended a memorial concert at the Berliner Ensemble, the theatre founded by the playwright Bertolt Brecht.

On Sunday, Merkel will open a new exhibition centre at Bernauer Strasse, near the Bornholmer Strasse checkpoint where the then 35-year-old chancellor crossed over to the west for the first time. “I think you never forget how you felt that day – at least I will never forget it,” the chancellor said in a recent podcast. “I had to wait 35 years for that feeling of liberty. It changed my life.”

At least two million people are expected to attend a grand street festival at the Brandenburg Gate. The former Polish president Lech Walesa, Hungarian ex-president Miklos Nemeth, as well as Gorbachev and German president Gauck, are all expected to take to the stage.

Music will be provided by the Berlin State Orchestra, conducted by Daniel Barenboim, as well as East Berlin rock band Silly and British singer-songwriter Peter Gabriel, performing David Bowie’s Heroes.

The centrepiece of the festivities will be formed by an ambitious art installation. Since Friday morning, 8,000 white balloons have been pegged to the ground along the former border. After sunset, they light up to form a 15km-long “wall of light”. This evening the balloons will be released into the air one by one, to the music of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.

Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit, as well as guests of honour including Nobel peace prize winner Muhammad Yunus, Nasa astronaut Ron Garan and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, will start the balloon release at 7pm local time.

Paul Dean 1a LLLL

Concert review: Two sides of Paul Dean feature in Flinders Quartet’s last tour of the year

Two sides of Paul Dean — as composer and performer — were on show when he was a guest of the reconfigured Melbourne-based Flinders Quartet at the Opera House’s Utzon Room.

Paul Dean 1a LLLL
Paul Dean appeared with the Flinders Quartet as both performer and composer in their last tour of year. Picture: Wayne Jones

Dean comes from a musical family whose Brisbane home was always filled with string quartets practising with his brother Brett, one of our top composers and a former violist with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

So composing a quartet for the Flinders, though daunting, seemed a natural choice for him. Called Moments of Transformation it is a poignant tribute to the promising 25-year violinist Richard Pollett who was killed in an accident with a cement truck while riding his bike.

This powerful 10-minute work, with its fluctuations between ghostly chords layered with harmonics from the lead violin and pulsing agitated passages in the middle section, closed the first half of the group’s last recital of the season.

When they were last here the quartet’s newest member Shane Cheng was second violinist but for this concert he took the lead. The Dean work provided plenty of opportunity for him to show his skills. The ensemble also decided to follow the Brodsky and Australian quartets by playing standing up.

The new configuration works well. Cheng is an exciting performer with a robust sound and secure technique and, apart from one or two minor balance problems, this was a recital from the top drawer.

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The Flinders Quartet Shane Cheng and Helen Ayres (front from left)) and Zoe Knighton and Helen Ireland.

Dean’s performing side came in the second half with a splendid reading of Brahms’s Clarinet Quintet in B minor Op 115. This is a long and demanding work which gives each performer a chance to express themselves.

Dean kept a tight check on tempos and dynamic and the slow movement, which contains one of the most gorgeous tunes in the chamber music repertoire, was carried off beautifully.

Dean and the foursome — Cheng, violinist Helen Ayres, violist Helen Ireland and cellist Zoe Knighton — had great fun in the ducking and weaving of the andantino and the showpiece variations of the final movement.


CONCERT: Flinders Quartet with Paul Dean

WHERE: Utzon Room

WHEN: Wednesday, October 29

Vans Women's Collection Ambassador Cocktail

Arts Education Transforms Societies

Vans Women's Collection Ambassador Cocktail
Angela Weiss via Getty Images

Do you enjoy the sleek look of your new iPhone? You can thank Steve Jobs for taking a calligraphy class at Reed College. Have you or your kids scribbled on a pair of Vans sneakers? Vans’ President Kevin Bailey credits the brand’s creativity with the arts education many of his employees have taken. At her promotion and swearing-in ceremony a few weeks ago, Capt. Moira McGuire, assistant chief of Integrated Health and Wellness at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, credited the arts as central to her practice as a caregiver for our wounded, returning military veterans. These are just a few of today’s leaders crediting their success to arts education.

Although many people may agree that arts (music, theatre, dance, visual, media, literary and more) are an important part of education, they may not realize the powerful trickle-up effect of arts education on a modern, innovative workforce. Indeed, arts education has the power to transform societies for the better.

Arts education increases employment rates by raising high-school graduation rates. Last year, high school graduates had a 3.5 percent lower unemployment rate than those without diplomas. And when exposed to arts education, students of all backgrounds are more likely to graduate. Americans for the Arts’ research shows that low-income students who are highly engaged in the arts are more than twice as likely to graduate from college as their peers with no arts education. Additionally, low-income students with a high participation in the arts have a dropout rate of 4 percent, in contrast to their peers with a low participation in the arts who have a dropout rate of 22 percent.

Once they graduate, students who have had arts education are more likely to hold onto jobs and thus positively contribute to the economy. According to a 2012 study in the Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, jobs in the creative areas–such as engineers, artists, scientists and educators–experienced lower rates of unemployment during the 2008-2010 recession than those in service or production jobs, even when employees had the same level of education. Furthermore, the researchers note that those in creative jobs are more resilient to technology advancements and outsourcing than other careers.

Students with exposure to arts education are also more prepared for the jobs of today and those of the future. Americans for the Arts and the Conference Board’s joint “Ready to Innovate” report shows that 72 percent of business leaders say that creativity is the number one skill they look for when hiring, and a subsequent report credits arts education as key to a student gaining that creativity. Additionally, inIBM’s 2010 Global CEO Study, 1,500 CEOs from around the world named creativity as the leading skill needed for business success. The executives from 60 countries and 33 industries believe that instilling creativity in their organizations is the key factor for successfully handling the challenges facing businesses today: changing regulations, evolving industries, incredible data accumulation and quickly changing customer preferences.

The value of arts education extends even beyond primary school. According to Adobe, while 78 percent of college-educated Americans believe that creativity is important to their current careers, most found that they value creativity more as professionals than they expected to while in college. So arts education for adults–like taking a ceramics course, playing in a band, or even just attending performances–can positively affect job performance. And artistic hobbies matter too: Robert Root-Bernstein, a creativity researcher, consultant, and professor at Michigan State University, publishedresearch showing that having one persistent and intellectually stimulating hobby (like painting or playing an instrument) is a better predictor for career success in any discipline than IQ, standardized test scores, or grades.

Franklin Roosevelt said it well: “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” So to prepare, protect and equip today’s workforce and that of the future, we must ensure that arts education remains a priority in our schools and in our lives. Do you know whether your local school provides quality arts education? Americans for the Arts offers a toolbox–including research, questions to ask, and ways to involve the community–to equip parents, citizens and teachers to advocate for arts education in schools. It’s an issue not just for parents, but for all of us: to ensure a flexible, innovative and employable workforce, we need creative, curious citizens who have been educated in the arts.

Maria Callas 1a LLLL

Greece honours Maria Callas with arts academy in former Athens home

American-born soprano’s links to Greece celebrated as fans try to reclaim ‘La Divina’ as a national icon 37 years after her death

Maria Callas 1a LLLL
Maria Callas, who rose to international stardom, took her first musical lessons in Greece. Photograph: Allstar/Cinetext/Le Films

Her devotees may be legion but in Greece, the country she identified with most, Maria Callas never quite got the recognition she deserved. Now, 37 years after her death, that wrong may finally be righted.

Last month, the Greek national opera raised €10,000 (£7,900) by staging a concert at the foot of the Acropolis in memory of the soprano, with the proceeds going towards the creation of an academy of lyrical arts named in her honour and housed in the building in Athens where she once lived.

It was there as a teenager that the singer took her first voice lessons, visiting the National Archaeological Museum opposite to study classical statuary.

“This is long, long overdue,” said Myron Michailides, the artistic director of the Greek National Opera. “Ours is the stage where she first performed solo, where her career began, so why no state institution has ever honoured her is really a mystery.”

The initiative is the fruit of years of work by Vasso Papantoniou, also an acclaimed opera singer, who once wrote to Callas “in shame” that she should be compared by the media to her.

“Nothing like this academy exists in Greece and she will be vindicated through it,” Papantoniou said. “It is shocking and inexcusable that such a great artist, a musician so unsurpassed has never been properly recognised here.”

Papantoniou has spent the best part of two decades trying to get “La Divina” honoured in Greece. With her husband, the writer Vassilis Vassilikos, she has campaigned tirelessly for officials to pay tribute to the woman who revolutionised the art.

A school, providing university degrees to students of opera – from singers to conductors, directors and opera designers – would be the biggest step so far.

Callas’s relationship with Greece was as tumultuous as her ill-fated romance with the rag-to-riches Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis. The pair were the two most celebrated Greeks alive at the time and embarked on a stormy affair in the late 1950s, with Callas falling passionately in love with the tycoon while still married to Italian industrialist Giovanni Meneghini.

Although she avoided the country after Onassis left her and married Jacqueline Kennedy, the widow of the US president John F Kennedy, – she asked that her ashes be scattered in the Aegean. She died aged 56 in 1977 in Paris.

With opera’s renaissance in recent years and the world-renowned soprano suddenly a symbol of unity for crisis-hit Greeks, the race to reclaim her has gathered pace.

For a nation whose confidence has been shattered by near economic collapse, Callas is for many an emblem of what is possible.

“She is not only a source of huge local pride but a great role model and reminder of what can be accomplished,” said Michael Roussou, a former opera singer.

Unlike Italy, which has several streets named after her in recognition of her long sojourn at La Scala, Greece has failed to follow suit. But this year Roussou, who heads the Lycabettus Society for the preservation of patrimony, began campaigning for the road next to the building where the chanteuse spent her formative years to be named after her.

And to his surprise thousands have flocked to sign the petition. “London and Paris have also named streets after her, but instead of boasting that this was the city where Callas grew up, Athens has never done the same,” he lamented. “The support has been tremendous. Museums, arts societies, fashion designers, actors, Greeks from all over the diaspora are rallying to the cause. She is an international icon. They want it to happen.”

So, too, it seems do local authorities now eager to cash in on the Maria effect with tourism at record levels. This year the mayor of Athens, Giorgos Kaminis, declared that Callas should be commemorated with a building, within view of the Acropolis, in her honour. A four-storey museum is to open at the end of 2015. “It is the very least we can do,” said the opera-loving official who like the soprano was born to Greek parents in New York.

A harder task has been coming up with items to exhibit for a show at the former hotel in the capital. Fans visiting a municipal collection of Callas memorabilia, to date, have had to make do with a gown, wig and gloves and photographs of the singer with her favourite dog.

Organisers say visitors can expect an “interactive experiential” insight into the singer’s career and life. What will get less attention is Callas’s relationship with Onassis. Long overdue, the museum will focus solely on the woman who stunned the world.


Chinese President Xi Jinping warns against ‘immoral’ art

Art should ‘inspire minds, warm hearts, cultivate taste and clean up undesirable work styles, Mr Xi said

Chinese President Xi Jinping has told artists, authors and actors that their work should present socialist values and not carry the “stench of money”.

Mr Xi delivered a speech to some of China’s leading creative figures, according to state news agency Xinhua.

He told them not to pursue commercial gain at the expense of artistic and moral value, Xinhua said.

Artists should not be “slaves” to the market or “lose themselves in the tide of market economy”, Mr Xi told them.

Nor should they “go astray while answering the question of whom to serve, otherwise their works will lack vitality”, he warned.

“Fine art works should be like sunshine from blue sky and breeze in spring that will inspire minds, warm hearts, cultivate taste and clean up undesirable work styles,” the president told them.

China imposes tight controls over art and culture but has relaxed some cultural controls from the 1970s.

Chinese artist Ai WeiWei, who is currently being exhibited at Alcatraz in San Francisco, is a vocal critic of the Chinese government

Xinhua reported that Mr Xi said artistic creations should inform the public in a “covert but influential” way what should be praised and what should be denied.

He addressed a symposium in Beijing of some of the country’s “most renowned” authors, actors, scriptwriters and dancers, Xinhua said, without naming the attendees.

Works of art should present patriotism as the main theme and foster “correct” viewpoints of history, nationality and culture, as well as strengthen pride in being Chinese, he explained.

Chinese media compared Mr Xi’s comments to a famous 1942 speech by Mao Zedong in which he said literature and the arts could contribute to the Communist cause.

The most famous Chinese artist around the world is Ai Weiwei, who is an outspoken critic of the Chinese government and is banned from travelling abroad.

Before his detention in 2011, Mr Ai said China had “a society that sacrifices people’s rights and happiness to make a profit”.

According to a recent report, China has nearly a quarter share of the £39.7bn global art market.


Pope Francis allows Sistine Chapel to be rented out for private corporate event

Memebers of the public inside the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican Museums in the Vatican City in Rome Photo: Alamy

Pope Francis has for the first time allowed the Sistine Chapel to be rented out for a private corporate event, with the proceeds to go to charities working with the poor and homeless.

The concert, to be performed amid the splendour of Michelangelo’s frescoes on Saturday, will be attended by a select group of about 40 high-paying tourists who have signed up to an exclusive tour of Italy organised by Porsche.

But as the unprecedented deal was announced, the Vatican announced that it would limit the number of visitors allowed inside the chapel to the current total of six million, amid fears that the frescoes are being damaged by the breath and sweat of so many tourists.

The Vatican would not divulge how much it will earn from the event, but the five-day tour of Rome arranged by the Porsche Travel Club costs up to 5,000 euros per head, meaning an overall price of 200,000 euros.

Participants are promised “a magnificent concert in the Sistine Chapel, with its ceiling frescoes painted by Michelangelo”.

The concert will be performed by a choir from the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome, which traces its origins back to the 16th century.

They will then sit down to a “gala dinner” in the midst of the Vatican Museums, “surrounded by masterpieces by world-famous artists such as Michelangelo and Raphael”.

“It’s a one-off event and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” a spokeswoman for the Porsche Travel Club told The Telegraph. “It will be the highlight of the trip.”

The Pope is keen to put the Vatican’s incomparable cultural heritage treasures to good use for the benefit of the needy.

Shortly after he was elected in March last year he called for a “poor Church for the poor”.

Monsignor Paolo Nicolini, the administrative director of the Vatican Museums, said firms like Porsche would be asked to make a donation for the use of the Sistine Chapel, with the money then passed onto Catholic charities of the Pope’s choice.

“It is an initiative which will support the Pope’s charity projects. It is aimed at big companies which, through the payment of a fee, can contribute to charity activities,” he said.

Concerts have been held in the Sistine Chapel before, but they have been for private Church audiences, including events held in honour of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

It is believed this is the first time that the chapel, which was built by Pope Sixtus IV between 1473 and 1484, has been leased out to a company for a commercial event.

The Vatican would not say whether it was planning to strike similar deals with other companies.

The restriction on visits to six million a year could mean the introduction of a reservations-only booking system, rather than the current free-for-all in which tourists can book visits online, through travel agencies or queue outside the gates of the tiny city state.

“I am convinced that the Vatican Museums, in particular the Sistine Chapel, have reached the maximum number of visitors possible,” said Antonio Paolucci, the director of the Vatican Museums.

The chapel has been fitted with new lighting and climate control systems which are designed to reduce the damage to the delicate frescoes.


Moulin Rouge still alive and kicking after 125 years; Sold out nearly every night

Dancers of the Moulin Rouge perform on October 1, 2014 at the Moulin Rouge cabaret in Paris. Cradle of French Cancan, immortalized by Toulouse Lautrec’s paintings, the oldest cabaret in Paris greets around 1.800 spectators for two representations every night of the year. Opened in 1889, the Moulin Rouge is one of the Parisian most famous monument and celebrates its 125th anniversary on October 6, 2014. AFP PHOTO / STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN

PARIS (AFP).- As quintessentially Parisian as the Eiffel Tower or the Sacre Coeur, the Moulin Rouge cabaret on Monday celebrates its 125th anniversary and it’s in very good shape considering its age.

Immortalised by the painter Toulouse-Lautrec and more recently by Nicole Kidman in Baz Luhrmann’s eponymous film, the iconic red neon windmill in the heart of Paris’s Pigalle red-light district is still pulling in the punters.

Shrugging off the economic crisis, the Moulin Rouge is sold out nearly every night for its two two-hour shows, seven nights a week, 365 nights a year, for tourists and locals in roughly even numbers.

The Moulin Rouge’s vital statistics are impressive for such a venerable old institution: occupancy rate of 97 percent, 600,000 guests a year and 450 staff, generating an annual turnover of 65 million euros ($81 million).

Attracted by the history and mild titillation of the 60 can-canning Doriss Girls, tourists flock there in their droves, led by the Chinese, Russians and Americans.

They come to drink in the champagne — 240,000 bottles a year, the biggest consumer outside wholesale retailers — and the history, knowing that Edith Piaf, Liza Minnelli and Frank Sinatra have all trodden the boards here.

The spirit of the scantily-clad Doriss Girls of the past like La Goulue and Nini Pattes still stalks the stage where their 21st-century successors from 14 countries strut their stuff.

Vital statistics of a different kind: each Doriss Girl must be at least 1.75 metres tall and a classically trained dancer.

Their partners on stage, the Doriss Boys, must be at least 1.85 metres, as must the jugglers and acrobats who complete the show.

The costume room sparkles with 800 pairs of shoes and 1,000 feathery costumes.

Several times a year, hundreds of young women hoping to can-can in the footsteps of history turn up for casting but very few are chosen under the watchful eye of ballet mistress Janet Pharaoh.

Still celebrating Parisian life

From the moment it opened its door in 1889, the Moulin Rouge was a smash hit, as Parisians streamed in their thousands to watch the high-kicking dancers perform their moves in what would later become known as the “French can-can”.

Within a year, it had attracted its first royal patron, the legendary carouser Edward VII, Prince of Wales, who was reportedly accosted by the famous show-girl La Goulue.

“Oi, Wales, champagne’s on you,” she cried out to the royal guest in the middle of the show, or so the story goes.

It also played host to the “Bal des Quat’z’arts”, a risque masked ball climaxing in the procession of Cleopatra — a naked woman carried by four men and surrounded by “nude girls who lay, languid, on flower beds,” according to the show’s website.

Famous punters abound: Salvador Dali, Ringo Starr, George Michael and Elton John are among the legends who could not resist the charms of the Moulin Rouge.

Even the King himself, Elvis Presley, was a regular on trips to Paris.

The cabaret has passed into popular culture, not only with Luhrmann’s 2001 film but before that in 1952 with John Huston’s version starring Zsa Zsa Gabor.

Moulin Rouge dancers also hold two impressive world records, according to the Guinness Book.

In 2010, 30 dancers performed between them 720 high-kicks in 30 seconds, claiming a new world record.

And the Moulin Rouge troupe also holds the record for the most consecutive jump-splits in 30 seconds, 62 by 30 dancers.

“The Moulin Rouge draws its power from its history, from the Bohemian lifestyle of the Belle Epoque, from the French can-can that made it famous from the beginning, from the artists down the ages who came here,” current owner Jean-Jacques Clerico told AFP.

“In 2014, the Moulin is still celebrating Parisian life and writing a new chapter in its history.”

The Key Of Sea 1a LL

Key of Sea

The Wheeler Centre, 6:15PM – 7:15PM, Wednesday 01 October 2014

The Key Of Sea 1a LLJoin us for an emotional night of storytelling and song.

The Key of Sea produces creative projects – albums and journals – that celebrate Australia’s cultural diversity.

The albums pair established artists with musicians escaping war, hardship or persecution.

In this intimate evening, we’ll hear from Danny Katz, Oslo Davis, Alice Pung, Zakia Baig, Awaz and Murtaza, as they share their work.

All proceeds of album and journal sales on the night will go to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.


Oslo Davis

Oslo Davis 1a LOslo Davis is an illustrator and cartoonist who has drawn for a number of publications worldwide, including the New York Times, theAgeMeanjin and the Guardian.

Danny Katz

Danny Katz 1a LDanny Katz, Canadian-born, came to Australia at a young age.

After failed careers as a musician, stand-up comedian and car washer, he finally turned to writing and became a newspaper columnist for the Age, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Western Australian.

Alice Pung

Alice Pung 1a LAlice Pung is the bestselling author of Her Father’s Daughter, which won the 2012 Western Australia Premier’s Literary Awards, and Unpolished Gem which won the 2007 Australian Book Industry Newcomer of the Year Award; and is also published in the UK, Germany, Indonesia and the US.

She is also the editor of Growing Up Asian in Australia.


Awaz 1aAwaz is a Kurdish musician from the Middle East.

He plays traditional Kurdish music on the Baglama and the Kaval.

Awaz came to Australia in early 2012 and was a member of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

He composed and performed with Sophia Brous on the Key of Sea Volume 2 and his performance on that record is the first time he has been at liberty to sing in his original tongue.

Zakia Baig

Zakia Baig 1aZakia Baig arrived Australia in 2006 as an overseas student, and one among the thousands of Hazaras who left their homes to escape persecution in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

A mother of two, Zakia is a Human rights activist and executive director of Australian Hazara Women’s Friendship Network.


Murtaza 1aMurtaza came to Australia from Afghanistan some years ago.

He came to this country to escape the Taliban and sought asylum under the Refugee Convention.

Tickets & Bookings

This is a free event. Bookings are recommended.

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The Wheeler Centre

176 Little Lonsdale Street


Victoria 3000

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Russian Church Leader Deems Contemporary Art “Filth and Stupidity”

Patriarch Kirill I, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. Photo: D.Grishkin, courtesy Vedomosti.

The leader of Russia’s Orthodox church, Patriarch Kirill I, has some rather, uh, unorthodox views about the state of contemporary art. As reported by the Moscow Times (via RIA Novosti), Kirill’s remarks at an Orthodox festival on Wednesday included a scathing critique of the contemporary arts, which he believes “show some horrors, some nonsense, idiocy.”

Kirill apparently doesn’t want to be challenged by culture, and only acknowledges artistic merits in relationship to beauty, dismissing less aesthetically pleasing works as “filth and stupidity under the guise of art.”

Sounding more like one of those ignore-at-all-costs subway preachers than a major religious leader, Kirill warns that “the purpose of [such] art is not to advance humankind…but to destroy [it].”

The art cognoscenti, the Russian patriarch contends, try to make the average person feel “unenlightened” for not appreciating modern art. Kirill cites a Chicago symphony that he had recently attended as an example, claiming that what started out as as “wonderful concert” quickly went downhill when the orchestra began playing “experimental music.”

“Everyone sat. Their faces tense, their eyebrows pursed with the desire to understand what was happening,” Kirill recounts. “But no one wants to be the one to say ‘the emperor has no clothes.’ Everyone was too afraid.”

Kirill is no stranger to being the center of controversies. He has long been rumored to have ties to the KGB, and he was outspoken in his attacks on artist activist group Pussy Riot.