Cultural Elsewhere

Essays and interviews in the world of the arts, architecture, design, journalism, politics and culture. And more, which appeal to the curious spirit of Elsewhere  . . .

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Richard Nunns: Mahi (Rattle/digital outlets)

11 Jan 2021  |  1 min read

When the histories of the Maori cultural renaissance of the 20thand 21stcentury are written, two musicians will stand proudly alongside the great orators, leaders, artists and writers. They are the late Hirini Melbourne (who died in 2003) and Richard Nunns who, with the guidance of kaumatua, freed traditional Maori instruments (taonga puoro) from the museum cases and brought them back into... > Read more

RUPERT THE BEAR AT 100 (2020): Happy birthday little man

7 Nov 2020  |  2 min read

On Sunday, November 8 2020, Rupert the Bear turns 100. To commemorate the occasion Paul McCartney is reissuing the animated film Rupert and the Frog Song in which he voiced Rupert. Produced by McCartney and directed by animator Geoff Dunbar, the 1984 film has been polished and restored with a new audio mix. This is all well and good if you care about it, but what is absolutely... > Read more

MORE PROVOCATIONS FROM RATTLE (2020): Cutting edge to centre-frame

10 Oct 2020  |  4 min read

As Rattle approaches its 30thanniversary with something around 160 releases of albums in handsome covers, it is enjoyably impossible to categorise easily what the label does. The shorthand would say Rattle – with more than 40 music award nominations, almost half of which were winners -- captures interesting music from Aotearoa New Zealand, be it contemporary art music, jazz, taonga... > Read more

Johnstone/Leamy/Garden: Chalk Dogs (Rattle/digital outlets)

16 Sep 2020  |  1 min read

The previous album by Neil Johnstone (synths) and Sam Leamy (guitar) – with taonga puoro player Al Fraser – was the extraordinary Panthalassa which was a powerfully impressionistic series of pieces which conjured up the ancient, fathomless oceans of eons long gone. It was, as we noted, so evocative as to be cinematic. And it is little surprise that here – with... > Read more

Matthew Marshall: Fragments (Rattle)

25 Jun 2020  |  1 min read

The Rattle label has recently brought back to attention some of the avant-garde music made in New Zealand in the Eighties. But this one from recordings in Radio NZ's archives is very different, although equally welcome. These solo, acoustic guitar pieces by Matthew Marshall were all recorded in the mid-Nineties and they are of works by New Zealand composers from the Fifties to that... > Read more

Desdemona's Song (Lilburn)

MARCEL MARCEAU INTERVIEWED (2001): It's all talk, talk, talk . . .

15 Jun 2020  |  7 min read  |  1

Within minutes, literally fewer than five, Marcel Marceau is back in the unadorned dressing room at Sydney's Capitol Theatre and, still in full pancake makeup, enthusiastically giving an interview after another thunderously received performance.The speed at which this private audience has been expedited and the sheer rush of words from a man whose reputation is built on silence suggests there... > Read more

RAVI SHANKAR INTERVIEWED (1998): In the house of the master

13 Apr 2020  |  19 min read  |  1

2020 is the 100th anniversary of Ravi Shankar's birth and although tributes had been planned, most have been put on hold. We repost this [ and this personal essay] as our tribute .  The apology couldn’t be more profuse. Three times Sukanya Shankar giggles self-consciously and says, “It's my fault,” each time following it with a litany of “sorry,... > Read more

Ferocious: Ferocious (Rattle)

9 Mar 2020  |  2 min read

It should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed Bill Direen's diverse musical and literary career that he should record an album for Rattle. He was there before punk, was briefly on Flying Nun then embarked on a career of music (with the Builders/Bilders etc), writing (prose, poetry, journals), theatrical presentations and much more. In the Eighties he flirted with the... > Read more

Extraordinary Day

Various Artists: Mansfield (CYP/digital outlets)

20 Feb 2020  |  1 min read

Anyone who endured Katherine Mansfield short stories in high school or is cynical about the growth industry of books, theses, research projects and such around this famous New Zealand author might like to set aside prejudice for this collection. Another project by Wellington singer-songwriter Charlotte Yates – following similar collections of words by Witi Ihimaera, Hone Tuwhare and... > Read more

HENRYK GORECKI, THE SORROWFUL SYMPHONY (1993): Capturing the spirit of the age, and marketing

16 Feb 2020  |  9 min read

When Billboard magazine – the bible of the international music industry – put classical music on its cover in September '92 with the heading “It’s Cool Again!” there was only one mention of Polish composer Henryk Gorecki in the 18-page insert supplement. And that reference was only to say that despite a stagnant market (unit sales in Britain down 20 per cent... > Read more

Gorecki: String Quartet #2 Opus 64, Il Deciso: Kronos Quartet

ARVO PART, TABULA RASA (2020): The sound of angel wings

2 Jan 2020  |  4 min read

The story is such an improbable cliché it can only be true: one night in the late 70s while driving between Stuttgart and Zurich, the famous jazz producer Manfred Eicher heard music on the radio so entrancing he had to pull over to listen more closely. Eicher – founder of the ECM label which has a reputation for music of often profound austerity – was so enthralled by... > Read more

Arvo Part: Tabula rasa (for two violins and prepared piano)

THE BEATLES. LET IT BE COVER, COPIED AND PARODIED (2019): Can you dig it, dig it . . .

16 Dec 2019  |  2 min read  |  1

You can't help but note that after their quickly knocked-off debut album Please Please Me (and its cover taking even less time), the Beatles' album covers were considered and became iconic. All except those for their movies. The cover for A Hard Day's Night was just a montage of uncredited stills from the film, Help! was shot by Robert Freeman (who did... > Read more

A FURTHER PROVOCATION OF RATTLES (2019): Still shaking the tree to its roots

27 Nov 2019  |  4 min read

On paper the idea seems implausible and if it were a pitch for a movie the resulting film would either be a comedy, farce or tragedy. It goes like this: “We're going to start a record label which will be at the high end of production values. The recordings will be presented in full colour hardcover CD sleeves with photos and liner notes. None... > Read more


9 Nov 2019  |  4 min read

The Beatles' story is one of coincidence, chance, luck and irony. What were the odds of McCartney meeting Lennon and them hitting it off, of them meeting photographers in Hamburg who could document the young band before fame struck, of Brian Epstein being interested in a scruffy pop group playing in a cellar, of classically trained producer George Martin at the minor league Parlophone label... > Read more


28 Oct 2019  |  3 min read

Many people will know the story behind the cover of the Beatles' 1965 album Rubber Soul, a distorted image which by chance captured the slightly woozy atmosphere around marijuana and the Beatles' changing music at that time. This was the album which rescued the band from being hidebound by Beatlemania. The previous album Help! had hinted at new possibilities: Lennon's brutally honest... > Read more

Nowhere Man (Beatles backing outtake)

CONGRATULATION MR BEETHOVEN AND THE APO (2019): Sharing a birthday year

23 Sep 2019  |  1 min read

The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra looks like having a big double-banger bash in 2020 when it celebrates its own 40thbirthday (life begins at 40, right?) and ol' Ludwig Van's 250th. Beethoven has sent his apologies, he won't be able to make it when the APO presents four concerts of his music – The Classicist, The Romantic, The Revolutionary and The Radical – in March next year... > Read more


20 Sep 2019  |  4 min read

As most Beatle fans know, the group debated for weeks over what their final studio album should be called. Among the titles thrown around were All Good Children Go To Heaven and Four in The Bar. One of the more serious contenders was Everest which had a double meaning, it was obviously the name of the mountain but also -- in a more prosaic version and the inspiration -- the brand of... > Read more

RICHARD NUNNS AND TAONGA PUORO (2019): Sounds from darkness into the light

12 Sep 2019  |  6 min read

On Waiheke, one of the islands in the Waitemata Harbour of Auckland, there is a remarkable private museum of musical instruments. It is exceptional in one key detail. As many would know, museums lovingly curate their instruments in glass cases and protect them closely. Sometimes too closely. At a museum in Rome I was once followed by a small and seemingly angry guard who would jump... > Read more

Te Aho Ku, by Hirini Melbourne, Richard Nunns, Aroha Yates-Smith

Chris Gendall: Tones (Rattle)

9 Jun 2019  |  1 min read

Elsewhere never lied to you, we announced ourselves as an “ever-expanding on-line magazine for people curious about new music, different travel, interesting arts and much more”. This album of contemporary chamber music by the award-winning composer Chris Gendall (a graduate of Victoria Uni, doctoral degree from Cornell, more recently Mozart Fellow at Otago Uni) is firmly for... > Read more

Suite 4: Bagatelle

Bella Hristova and Michael Houstoun: Beethoven; The Violin Sonatas (Rattle)

16 May 2019  |  1 min read

Sometimes just because we can, Elsewhere makes a courageous leap into the world of contemporary classical music because – in part – that is where we grew up; La Monte Young, Reich, Glass, Nyman et al. But The Serious Old Big Stuff – like Beethoven's violin sonatas, which we have sometimes/occasionally heard and enjoyed in small doses – we leave to the... > Read more

Adagio Espressivo