Vocal music has since time immemorial, reflected the brilliance of the composer, the considerable talents of the singer, as well as standards of excellence established during a particular period and in the place where it was produced and presented.
Down through the centuries all over Europe and England and in the Middle and Far East, in fact all the corners of the world the centre of excellence in the evolution of arts, design, music and style has constantly shifted and changed, often through the efforts of one particular genius or by way of one particular sound the people took to their hearts.
From the ancient world both east and west, to the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and from the Romantics to the music of Modernism and the Contemporary age, the Baroque era in Europe was all about making design excellence available to all. Today tourists flock to see great Baroque buildings, to go to events inside them and take home the memory of what vision and the art of excellence really means.
For those who love the arts and are wanting to represent their culture and music preferences a high standard of excellence is the only goal post to aim for if you want to succeed.
It is most definitely the only aim sponsors, supporters, artists and audiences want to be associated with. Everyone wants to hop on the wave of success once it’s going and barrelling forward, but it takes long-term vision to go beyond the immediate.
In Australia we are blessed with many truly talented and giving people working in the arts arena who strive for excellence and for sharing the joy with others. They bring considerable efforts to bear on our standards of musical excellence and heritage, presenting it to appreciative and often inspired audiences.
It’s no longer good enough for someone to generalize ‘classical music’ is dead…far from it. Statistics show that in many parts of our world it’s rising in popularity enormously as well as in our own.
Young people are exposed to it with opera in shopping malls and operatic voices on reality shows on TV such as The Voice. They are taking glorious singing to their hearts, learning to appreciate what musical excellence is all about like my own generation did via Mario Lanza at the movies.
The freedoms we enjoy in this country entitle us all to choose the musical genre we support and not have teachers, institutions or governing bodies choose them for us.
Their role is to present a diverse and unbiased viewpoint for us to consider, through the acquisition of knowledge.
It was in Hobart, Australia’s southern most state, where multi talented, experienced and visionary Australian artistic director Leo Schofield AM and executive director Jarrod Carland in 2013 and 2014 presented their innovative and inspirational Baroque music festival.
It was full of the glories of music both sacred and secular. They enjoyed near sell out, and some completely sold out performances every day. They created a new and important market for the future of tourism selling some 48% of their tickets interstate and internationally. The people in Hobart city loved it. Those I talked to on the street at random when I was there in 2014, wrapped.
Schofield and Carland took Hobart to the world, ensuring that while it may have been a place where ‘elite’ entertainment and music took place, that the festival they were founding was not ‘elitist’ in the slightest. In fact they established a festival that was not only just ‘a cultural tourism event’ but also one as they explained ‘open by nature of programming and pricing to all comers’.
Having to make the difficult decision to shut this hugely successful music festival down recently, must have been dreadful for them both, detailing why in the recent announcement letter to Hobart Baroque subscribers…
“We have not failed in our efforts to deliver on a small budget a festival with a big vision for its host city and state. But without a shared belief in our aims we cannot proceed. The program for 2015 was magnificent. It’s a tragedy that it will never materialize”.
The festival of music taking place on Australia’s tiny island state Tasmania now only a thing of memory, offered both hope and promise. However without visionary support from government in Australia the reality is that in this country it is very hard, nigh on impossible, to surmount the many challenges of production, at least in the short term until you gather momentum around you to get the show off the ground and on the road.
At the very least that in reality takes five years, if not a decade.
Corporate executives will testify to this fact, companies that burst onto the limelight often fade very quickly, for it requires strength of purpose, a belief in what you are seeking to achieve and nerves of steel while running on the ‘smell of an oil rag’ to bring vision to full fruition. Often it also requires personal sacrifice, and the beauty and joy of the music is what keeps the industry going.
Productivity and profit is a by-product of making the arts both performance and visual, a mainstream element of local, national and international social and economic life. And so it requires visionary investment both in time and money by people who support the vision.
As an audience we demand a great deal of our heroes like Schofield and Carland.
These are people who do not sit on the sidelines of history, but in fact jump right in on all our behalf, championing our collective beliefs and establishing cultural markers.
And when and if it goes wrong, we must stand with them as one.
Throughout his outstanding career in Australia Mr Schofield has always presented Australian art, culture and society as being at the pinnacle of international excellence.
In the eyes of his colleagues who work with him to bring excellence in the arts to Australia he is a giant.
If only we could say the same for our politicians.
Have been trying to put my finger on in what they seemingly don’t have in Australia? I can only believe its a lack of those special qualities people of stature in the past whose statesman like qualities we still admire.
Leaders have the courage of their convictions and stand and face every crisis and challenge head on, not shirk from any task. They need to exhibit the sheer ability to go way beyond self.
While we can appreciate getting the ‘balance’ of allocating dollars right for government is a balancing act it’s surely how its leaders act at all times that is important too?
And, when its time to go you do so with grace, dignity and integrity. Along the way though, you need to have offered others the same courtesy.
From all reports the professional application for funding the Hobart Baroque festival for the next three years was dismissively regarded. The news delivered ‘by a journalist’?
Surely this is not an action anyone would admire? How we deal with each other both professionally and personally matters ? We must also talk about things that hurt!
Who holds elected leaders up to account, especially when they treat respected colleagues so shabbily?
Like everything in life success takes considerable investment by individuals, communities, states, territories and countries. This is the same the world over and its not about money!
In a letter to their supporters and subscribers the dynamic duo noted they both saw Hobart Baroque ‘… not only as a unique event, but also as one that would help burnish the image of Hobart and Tasmania and lure music lovers south’
It is more than fair for them to say that ‘no other new cultural event in memory enjoyed such rapid recognition and reputation’.
They presented in two short years not only inspirational programming, but also motivated the hope that musical excellence of such quality will be, and remain one we can look forward to enjoying for a long time in Australia.
I have often wondered how performing arts enterprises, which claim to be ‘national’ in Australia, can continue to make the claim until they are regularly touring every state of Australia including Tasmania.
Most creative entrepreneurs are often content to continue to ignore Hobart with its stunning historic city full of glorious buildings with halls that have amazing acoustics for music, due to the historicity of their stunning architecture, designed at a time when musical harmony was integral to design.
When I was in Tasmania for Hobart Baroque 2014 walking the city I spent days photographing so I could write a series of articles about the boarded up buildings in the hope of perhaps providing insight into new-wave development opportunities for others before next year’s show.
Leo Schofield and Jarrod Carland were prepared to invest two years of unpaid time into establishing their extraordinarily successful program. Not many people would or could sustain such a commitment without pay and they are to be loudly applauded.
If Hobart Baroque proved anything it is that people who put the artistry and magic at the forefront of their passion and invest in their own talent can hurdle all the obstacles and the bureaucratic red tape that threatens to trip them up.
These two gentlemen of the music business succeeded beyond all boundaries and beyond Baroque. They were indeed generous as they thanked everyone who had believed saying
“… you shared our dream and had a taste of what Hobart Baroque might have been if cherished as passionately as it was by we two and the fabulous artists we had the honour to present.”
Our challenges and conflicts shape our interactions with each other and very much affect the way we experience the world at large. Citizens can, do and should shape civic and democratic renewal in many ways.
Daring to imagine and plan for what it might be possible to accomplish has been made possible through the significant achievements throughout history of people like Leo Schofield and Jarrod Carland.
How do we thank them both enough for giving so much beyond self, in their endeavours to bring Australia and Australian talent to the world in the genre they love?
How good it would be for all our artists that spend years overseas often without family support, in order to achieve.
While it may seem glamorous to the rest of us, it’s more often than not in the daily living.
These two innovators were diligent in providing opportunities for so many to create, co-operate and collaborate with all their colleagues so effectively. Their plans for their future were also well thought out and wonderfully considered.
The arts reflect our attitudes and philosophies and are at the essence of our fashions and passions.
With a fine example of music excellence set by Leo Schofield and Jarrod Carland now integral to the historical fibre of the performing arts in this country, young up and coming innovators have their hard experience to learn from. It’s not what you do but how you do it and they did it with grace and style.
On the other hand the public officials involved only proved how indelicate they can be, entirely lacking in any sort of understanding of the human condition.
In the meantime, those privileged to have been at Hobart Baroque 2013 and 2014 will long remember the sweetness of the words, the glories of the early music of friends and the extraordinary array of talented artists who shared and gave so much.
Above all though we will remember, how valiantly and gallantly we were treated to Australian arts excellence by two of the best, most admired men in the business. In my book they deserve thunderous applause and a standing ovation.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2014