#blogjune – A “#classic100 weekend

Today was the final part of ABC Classic FM’s Top 100. This year it was the baroque and before. As always, listeners got to vote for 10 pieces. I had decided not to vote for pieces by Bach or Handel because:

1) they would be popular anyway

2) one could easily pick 10 pieces from just either of these composers

I was pleased to see two Hildegard of Bingen pieces, though I was disappointed not to see Gaudete, by Anon, that most prolific of composers. It was the first piece of music that I ever heard Steeleye Span perform, and they have been my favourite band now for nearly 30 (?!?) years.

We didn’t get to hear as much of it this year with various family events, so it didn’t have quite the intensity for us that previous years have had. One of the events was my father-in-law’s birthday, and we have justr returned from there having had a couple of very nice wines. One was a Tim Adams Clare Valley Pinot Gris. The other was a fundraiser vintage made from 11 different grape varieties and was absolutely delightful.

Mixed Blessing 2009

I hasten to add that I don’t admire Churchill’s politics. However, having visited the Churchill Museum in London late last year, I got an appreciation of the breadth of his interests.

The annual Classic 100 selections make me realise how grateful I am that we have an excellent public broadcaster that has helped broadened my cultural horizons. I didn’t grow up with classical music, and the ABC has enriched my life in more ways than mere words can express. There is a quote doing the rounds that Winston Churchill opposed cutting arts expenditure during WW2 which unfortunately is inaccurate (though the sentiment behind it may not be). But he did say in 1938 that:

“The arts are essential to any complete national life. The State owes it to itself to sustain and encourage them….Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the reverence and delight which are their due.”

Of course, I don’t love every program that graces SBS or the ABC, but I don’t expect it to, and don’t begrudge funding things that I myself am not interested in. But the arts and culture seems today to be unimportant, even though wee can spend huge sums of money locking up asylum seekers, and keeping them away from our shores by cloaking such efforts in ANZAC garb by calling it Operation Sovereign Borders. It seems to me that we have become a very mean-spirited people. Encouraging people to produce art and music and encouraging fine food is infinitely more useful than encouraging a nation of property and financial speculators. Art and food and culture can bring people together, even in difficult times. Indeed, this is when they are most at need. I hope that in the future we don’t have our Top 100 cut to a Top 80 or 90.

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