Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's founding father.

Lee Kuan Yew.

Singaporean public lament over the death of their founding patriarch is understandable. Lee was a leader of remarkable talent in taking Singapore from an important British colonial transport hub to a first world identity in one generation.

Given Australia’s current floundering government with no inspiring leader of any political persuasion in sight, any thoughtful person would be forgiven for thinking that perhaps authoritarian government has many advantages in advancing ordinary peoples living standards.

There will be many who throw their hands up in the air in dismay at the very suggestion that dictatorial authority is compatible with democratic rule, but in Singapore’s case the result is only too plain to see. I’m old enough to remember Singapore in the early 1950s when I first visited the island. Admittedly south-east Asia was still in recovery mode after the defeat of Japan in World War Two, but even then Singapore was nowhere as economically deprived as its closest neighbours Indonesia and Malay. It’s fortunate geographical location always ensured a certain degree of prosperity in terms of world trade, but still it was a long way from first world.

Despite the multi-ethnic composition of the population where each group to some extent was always anxious to advance their own tribal interests, Lee was able to unite them into a cohesive whole no mean feat when compared to the history of its neighbours. The Chinese cleansing in Indonesia and several years of armed conflict in Malay. This most ability to unite was probably  Lee's greatest achievement, the ability to unite people in a complementary vision of their future without which progress in any field is neigh impossible. Admittedly harsh measure were from time to time employed, but there is no doubt the majority of Singaporeans enjoyed eventually a higher standard of living that made the policy worthwhile.  

Strangely in the fifties Lee was considered in conservative circles to be a communist, while today the left of politics consider him to be a right wing dictator, both sides perusing their own political agendas neither  seeming able to see real benefits in Lee’s  rule, each focusing instead on some restrictive aspect of his government. Many western governments historically have over the years   discredited their political adversaries in similar manner, while they no longer jail them as in the pas they are often fairly loose with the truth, freely discrediting their personalities.

Despite some of Lee’s questionable policies, his achievement have been remarkable taking Singapore’s GDP to levels not obtain in Australia or many other western first world countries. Turning the island state into a powerhouse of Asian affairs. Singapore will surely miss his guiding hand.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Tan Dun. Contrabass Concerto. 'Wolf Totem'

Tan Dun’s ‘Wolf Totem’.

Tan Dun’s Wolf Totem stands as one of the highlights of this year’s Hobart Ten Days Festival. Commissioned by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra with four other orchestras from around the world, its Hobart performance was greeted with much delight and enthusiasm.

Based on the Chinese novel Wolf Totem the concerto for double bass is packed with musical surprises. The composition entwines the ancient Mongolian culture with the suggestive western intrusion via the Silk Road. The shrinking grasslands and native animal population are integrated into the musical score of  Eastern and Western musical traditions.

In exploring this culture, Tan Dun introduces the current crises of possible destruction of the grassland’s population of wild horses and wolves. He explores the fingering techniques of ancient Mongolian Horse Fiddle playing with modern musical instruments resulting in some extraordinary musical sounds. The Hobart Festival was very fortunate to have the opportunity to hear this work from one of the world’s finest contemporary orchestrators.   

Friday, March 13, 2015

Life's Doors

Doors come in many different shades and colours, golden or bright red for happiness, sometimes black or grey, or possibly no colour at all that leave the on looker in two minds. It is important to make the right choices if you use doors to move from A to B.

No matter what the colour it is necessary to pass through doors throughout life if for no other reason than it is impossible to stand still.

Golden doors attract with their ever beckoning allure of success and advancement, whether in love or material advancement.

Black is really the opposite with its psychological suggestion of death or evil, although some cultures express grief with white. Black is a bye product of the colour’s inability to reflect light, that all important ingredient that leads to insight and hopefully happiness.

Doors have practical use for adventure and advancement throughout life too,   keeping out drafts and snow, they embrace soft breezes during overly humid weather.

Doors I like best are of a personal nature, the ones that lead to love, companionship and security. Despite all human excitement for the great outdoors, tents always have a certain lack of comfort and security. Will it hold up in the storms that continually sweep across our life journy. Its entrance offers little protection against outside intrusion.

Often it is felt that to meet out of doors suggests a healthy, refreshing experience. A picnic perhaps or a lovers’ walk to some magic location beyond the preying eyes of the world. Years ago I was once asked who I knew, who could supply a reference, such things opened doors when applying for employment. The interviewer suggested this was important in order to succeed in life. Whether this is desirable remains debatable. It is hoped personal ability and skill would be the most important, not how many doors you have been able pass through.  

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The world of Dreams.

The World of Dreams.

The world we actually live in is one of confusion and disorder. In many ways the world of dreams offers far more possibilities.

We create in our subconscious a world of no contractions, no one to dispute our version of events, that are free to spin in and out focus in any random manner they may wish to make.

In our dreams it is possible to be rich or poor, successful or fail or both at the same time, without the judgment of others. It is possible to imagine the unimaginable, to stand in the shadows watching life unfold in the most unlikely manner.

Anything and everything is possible, the hardest task is to retain the memory of these experiences into the conscious world, a world that is always locked unfortunately in the present.