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John Psathas - writing music for a pandemic world

22 Nov 2020

New Zealand composer John Psathas had a road to Damascus moment in 2018 while roaring along at Toto's 40th anniversary concert at London's Royal Albert Hall. Audio

Sunday 22 November 2020

Available Audio (8)

 

12:15 Prime TV's Annie Murray looks local 

Prime was initially best known for fact-based shows - Uncharted - Sam Neil's series about James Cook - and Go South.  But since then they've started moving into scripted shows, notably Brokenwood Mysteries.

And the driving force behind some fascinating new programme ideas is Annie Murray, commissioning editor for Prime and Sky TV.

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Photo: Sky TV

12:30 Van Gogh writ large in NZ next year

Right now people are hungry for live spectacle wherever they can get it.   And they don't get more spectacular than an exhibition that's about to land in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch early next year.

It's called Van Gogh Alive! - and that's putting it mildly.  Multi-channel motion graphics, 40 high-definition projectors, with cinema-quality surround sound, and believe it or not, subtle use of perfumes.

A mini version of the Van Gogh experience ran recently in Wellington and completely sold out. Simon speaks to the head of the Australian company bringing it out - Grande Experiences CEO, Bruce Peterson.

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Photo: Grande Experiences

12:45 Jefferey Smith: Scoundrels, Cads, and Other Great Artists

Fascination with the private lives of the rich, the famous and the talented is hardly new.  Ever since there have been stars - Shakespeare?  Ancient Greek theatre? - there have been people dying to know their innermost secrets.

The fact is artists are usually given such license when they're famous, that it would be surprising if they weren't tempted to become mad, bad and dangerous to know, like famous bad boy Lord Byron. Professor Jeffery Smith from Otago University wanted to know how much bad character affects our love - or hatred - of their creations.  So he wrote a book - Scoundrels, Cads, and Other Great Artists. It's published by Rowman and Littlefield and is available in bookstores now. 

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Photo: Rowman and Littlefield

1:10 At The Movies

Simon Morris defends putting foreign clips on the show, in a week that offers a Tunisian family drama, a comedy thriller set in an American high school, and an Australian remake of a popular Icelandic film. 

1:33 John Psathas: writing music for a pandemic world

New Zealand composer John Psathas had a road to Damascus moment in 2018 while roaring along at Toto's 40th anniversary concert at London's Royal Albert Hall.

After decades of splitting his time between teaching at the New Zealand School of Music and fitting composing in when he could, it  was time for a change. He's moved to Waitarere on the Horowhenua coast where he now dedicates all of his time to composing. 

Fascinated by the pandemic and the effect it was having on musicians John and his former student guitarist Jack Hooker set about bringing New Zealand musicians from all around the globe together virtually for a huge cross genre collaboration. It's called 'It's Already Tomorrow' and it comes out this Friday. 

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Photo: John Psathas

1:50 New museum set to open on Stewart Island Rakiura 

Stewart Island Rakiura's museum was first built in 1960 - to house an abundance of island treasures. Back then, it cost the thousands of tourists coming to the island 50 cents to get in and see the displays which cover early whaling in the area, sealing, boat building, and natural history. But the Rakiura Museum ran out of room, and plans were hatched to build a new one. The three million dollar centre is now, after a couple of setbacks, due to open on the first of December. 

Lynn Freeman spoke to Rakiura Heritage Centre Trust chairwoman Margaret Hopkins, and Jo Massey, the Southland District Council's roving museum officer.  

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Photo: Rakiura Museum

2:06 The Laugh Track - Lolsy Byrne 

The idea of Lolsy Byrne's year so far almost sounds like the setup for a sitcom.  Did you hear about the Irish comedian who came to New Zealand for a Fringe Festival and then there was a lockdown and she couldn't get out?

Lolsy is gigging in Auckland at the moment and is also a member of Irish comedy online channel TRY.

Lolsy Byrne picks her favourite jokers for this week's laugh track. 

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Photo: Lolsy Byrne

2:25 Fiona Sussman: Addressed to Greta

It feels a bit odd in our current isolated state to be thinking about journeys around the world as a form of self discovery. But they always have been, and hopefully will be again. One such journey is the subject of New Zealand novellist Fiona Sussman's new book Addressed to Greta. Greta Jellings is a woman in her 30s living a fairly small life. That is until she is left a staggering amount of money that blows her world wide open. 

Fiona has written a series of short stories and novels including her debut novel Shifting Colours  and The Last Time We Spoke which won the Ngaio Marsh crime writing award. She's also a former GP and still working in the provision of charitible surgical services.

Her story  'A Breath, A Bunk, A Land, A Sky' was shortlisted this year for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. But it's to Greta her attention is now turned. She spoke to Robert Kelly about the journey she went on with her protagonist. Adressed to Greta is  published by Bateman Books. 

Fiona Sussman.

Fiona Sussman. Photo: Supplied

2:40 APO to celebrate Home Alone's 30th birthday 

For sheer event status there's nothing quite like seeing a big-deal Hollywood movie with the musical soundtrack provided by a live orchestra. The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra celebrates the end of a challenging year with a Christmas classic that's celebrating its own significant birthday.  Home Alone turns 30 this year!

Conductor David Kay

Conductor David Kay Photo: Supplied

2:49 Rachel Reid: It's In The Post

Who has the flashest post box on your street? 

Writer, photographer and travel blogger Rachel Reid has spent the last twenty years documenting the novelty and designed letterboxes around New Zealand.

She's put them together in a book titled 'It's in The Post'. Robert Kelly spoke to her about her epistolary obsession. 

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Photo: Bateman Books

3:06 Drama at 3 - Cross Over 

Children often have imaginary friends who share their days, their games and their inner-most secrets.  And while most are forgotten as the child  grows older, a few people find that such a friend can be a reliable mentor as well as a companion .

Today's Classic drama takes us into a world where such a fiction begins to invade reality.