Asni: harps and imagination - newsletter #14 - May/June 2008
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Hello, kia ora and welcome to the fourteenth Asni: harps & imagination newsletter!

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In this newsletter:
ACHIEVEMENTS * WEBSITE UPDATE * UPCOMING EVENTS * MANY MEETINGS

Travels in Middle-earth cd out now! order here *** Listen to sound clips from the new cd

HARP FOR SALE! - click here for more information

Another newsletter that has had me agonizing over it for an unduly long time – well, at least now the timing conveniently provides a title (no, I wasn’t trying to be deep and metaphorical). There are plenty of things going on in Wellington at this time of year – I’ve seen and heard some great performances, participated in some great events, and meet some great people, and somehow I’d like to do justice to them all – but then a little voice in my head says “why don’t you simply write *shorter* newsletters - *more often*.

I’ll try. I’ll also leave some of the things I was going to include here for the next newsletter, that way it will already be half written.

ACHIEVEMENTS

But first things first – about a month ago I successfully completed my Diploma of Multimedia at Natcoll. Some people may have taken it for granted that I should pass such a thing (the only thing my dad could think of when I gave him the news was, when was I going to get a job, then?) - but it was not easy. In fact, it was a LOT of hard work. And out of the 20 people that started out with me, only four managed to complete the course within its official time frame. I was one of those four. And to make that sound even more boastful, of those four one had already done a course in Digital Arts and the other, in Graphic Design. The rest of the 12 or so people who were still hanging around in May all had to apply for an extension of time to finish their assignments.

To achieve that, not only did I have to give up on having any sort of a life for the months of January through to May (you may remember that I also released a new cd in February, and painted about 88 leaves for my faithful subscribers). I also had to battle a couple of strutting male tutors, an unsympathetic course coordinator, and eventually get a couple of my assignments sent to the school’s headquarters in Auckland to get them assessed there, because my video tutor considered that what I had done was too intelligent to be shown on tv. Really. That's exactly what he said.

That sounds a lot grimmer than it really was, though. On the whole, it was a really great experience – I’d even say an enjoyable one, in a masochistic kind of way. It has been a great privilege to be able to focus for a whole year just on learning, improving my skills and doing lots and lots of creative work. Exactly the sort of thing that has been falling victim to the demands of day-to-day life, and of earning enough of an income, for far too long in my life. Well, let’s hope that from here on these two things won’t be mutually exclusive any more. There’s got to be a better way than feeding one's artistic habit with a cleaning job.

Not to mention that it’s all been a great boast to my self–esteem. If I had been agonizing about hanging out with a bunch of 20something geeky boys, I shouldn’t have. It was a whole lot more fun than being stuck in an office with a couple of frustrated, jealous and behind-your-back-bitching 40somethings. And if I was complaining about strutting tutors, well to be fair, they probably didn’t know what had hit them when I came along. *That* wouldn’t be the first time either. I think if I suffered from them, they probably suffered just as much from me. And if my course coordinator was a trifle hard to deal with at times, the rest of the school administration was very supportive all the way through.

At this juncture, I should also like to express my thanks to Abrakebabra on Manner’s Mall for being the healthiest fast food outlet in downtown Wellington (they do freshly squeezed vegetable juices! I swear they’re the reason that despite all the stress I haven’t been ill since November) – and to a bunch of other fast food outlets, most notably California Sushi, Ai Sushi, The Cozy Bakery Shop, and Satee Kingdom, for providing some variety in my diet. A special word of thanks should also go to the wonderful security staff whose task it was to kick us out at night, and whose support has been instrumental in helping me achieve the course goals within the given timeframe. Yup, that was practise for my Oscar speech.

Most importantly, I really enjoy doing what I’ve learned during the year. Though because of the amount of work it was to get to the end of the course, I haven’t really had much time to consider what to do next and which of my newly acquired skills to focus on, or to find out what the industry looks like in real life. So at the moment I am taking some time to sit back and have a good think about my options. Luckily it seems I’ll have better support than last time I found myself looking for work – and by people who understand that I don’t necessarily want to focus on “finding a job”, but rather on ways to build my own business and be my own boss. But it is a little too early to go public with any plans or ideas – I sense topics for several future newsletters.

In further news, as of 27 March I have been elected a full member of APRA, the Australian Performing Rights Association (which also caters for New Zealand), on the strength of the three pieces I have written and recorded on my Travels in Middle Earth cd. I am not sure if that is the beginning or the end of a budding career as a composer... we shall see. Multimedia, after all, means "more than one medium", and *that* is a description that fits me singularly well.

some of the beautiful people I spent last year with - and my brand new work equipment!

WEBSITE UPDATE

The next big item on my to-do list is a thorough redesign of my website. If you’ve been to my site lately you’ll have noticed a new front page, but never fear, that’s not what it will look like in the end! I was all impatient and chewing on my bite and wanting to have a go, but really what I have to decide first is the structure of the new site or sites, and that turns out to be a major research job in and of itself.

Besides that, I am currently busy teaching myself the basics of PHP and will then have to dig my heels into Dreamweaver, so well, just don’t expect for things to happen overnight. I won’t even make any promises regarding the upload of any of my course work or updating my illustration galleries (though I have been busy with the pencil lately). I would rather sort out my broadband connection first and get some basic structures into place. Meanwhile, I have at least put my show reel online, please have a look here.

I am also busy taking care of some more mundane tasks – such as getting my flat back into some semblance of order after months of complete neglect of all but the most basic household tasks, dealing with a backlog of paperwork and emails, bravely facing the ordeal of the annual tax return, and most importantly, sorting out my internet connection. Here I am with my fancy new Macbook Pro, Adobe Master Suite no less, Lightwave 3D and a bunch of high-end video and sound editing software, and I don’t even have a broadband connection! Getting a decent broadband plan at my current address turns out to be a real pain – it’s out of coverage of both cable and wireless plans, and when I tried to set up an ADSL connection the other day it utterly failed to work. I am *really* getting too old for dial-up though – it just takes too much time out of my life!

And I am still trying to sell my harp! The price for either harp (including bag) is NZ $ 12,000/Euro 6,500 (neg.) – and there will be no several years waiting time, as there would be for a new instrument! Please send me an email if you are interested, and feel free to pass on the information in the harp community or to anyone who might want to buy. For a sound sample, listen to any of my cds, most of the tracks on most of them are recorded on one of these two harps.

UPCOMING EVENTS

I was hoping to be able to post a date for my cd release gig at this stage, but my negotiations with the venue (Happy, in Tory St) are proceeding at a fairly sluggish pace. So far, we’re talking late August or perhaps September. In any case, I’ll need at least 2 months notice to be able to do my publicity properly, so you’ll all be notified in good time. Oh – and suggestions for other (additional or alternative) venues are always welcome!

Just pro forma I should probably also announce my next music theory course which as far as I remember is scheduled for July or August but I can’t even remember the dates – and seeing that it hasn’t reached minimum numbers for the whole of last year, I suppose I might just as well declare these courses dead. It’s a shame really, they came off to quite a good start - and every once in a while I run into people who seem totally fascinated by exactly the sort of stuff that I could teach them. But I can’t spend the rest of my life running after people offering the treasures of my knowledge if no one can be bothered to make the effort to sign up, and to be honest I got other things to focus on for now.

Also before the end of the year, I plan to release another book of sheet music, the first volume of Diego Fernandez de Huete’s Compendio numeroso, to complement my edition of the Pasacalles.

Alistair Fraser, my collaborator on Travels in Middle-earth, has just released another cd with his ensemble Kahu – they have been doing a series of release gigs, the last one will be on Saturday 28 June at the Adam Concert Room, Gate 7 or 8 Fairly Terrace on the Victoria University Campus – it starts at 7.30 pm and I'm sure it will be great. I’ll make sure to be there myself – please come along in great numbers! And if you absolutely can't make it, here is their Myspace page with some sound files.

check here for: news updates * new art & multimedia work * upcoming concerts * workshops and courses

Mt Ruapehu by night - and a most well-deserved lazing-out holiday in the Shire

MANY MEETINGS

As I said earlier, May and June is a busy time in Wellington’s cultural calendar. First of all, there are the annual Matariki celebrations at Te Papa – I managed to attend a couple of the talks and performances by artists with a Maori background, and as always, they were both interesting and thought-provoking.

Last month was New Zealand Music month, and even though I was so busy finishing my course work, I still managed to play one gig, at very short notice – warming up for Charlotte Yates at her Wellington Folk Club gig (apologies, I never even managed to post it on my site!). It was one of those events that make me almost remember why I’ve wanted to be a musician in the first place. Charlotte grabbed everyone with her energetic performance, and she kindly swopped me one of her new cds for one of mine – it’s called “Beggar’s Choice” and it’s been in the player ever since, I highly recommend it.

A bit earlier in the year, Sunga came through – one of my favourite bands ever. Sadly only a very few people turned up to welcome Natalia Mann back in her one-time hometown (she now lives in Istanbul) but at least she had good support from the local harp community – Carolyn Mills and myself, that is. Everyone else missed an absolutely gorgeous performance! But it was great to catch up both with Carolyn and with Natalia – I’d met her several years before at the Wellington Harp Festival and she seems to be a bit of a kindred spirit.

On the last weekend of May, Wellington played host to X|Media|Lab – an organization that describes itself as “International Think Tank for Digital Culture”. It was MOST interesting – did you know, for instance, that China has created a whole new business park in Souzhou, near Shanghai, just to boost their animation industry? I ran into a very friendly lady from The Big Idea who promptly suggested that I do a write-up of the event, in exchange for a link to my site, and of course I was most happy to comply – have a look here to find out more about the event.

Back in April, there was our annual Armageddon “Pulp Expo” and I managed to be part of the team that represented Natcoll at the event. A great opportunity to show off some of our work! I was working away on my Tiki Man animation and can proudly say that it was a bit of an attention grabber especially with the kids. Of course it helped that we were strategically positioned right next to the Weta Sideshow booth with its climbable vehicle as featured in Dr Grodborth. And I won’t, I won’t, I won’t brag about how I walked up to Richard Taylor and gave him a copy of my cd, and not only did he ask me to sign it for him, he actually gave me a kiss on the cheek. :faints: And he such a handsome man...

Oops, ok now I just did. O well – it was rather a highlight in my life. :D

Speaking of which, Weta workshops now have their own little all-days-a-week exhibition space, aptly called the Weta Cave. I went there the other day for their Narnia open day (to celebrate the release of Prince Caspian) and I honestly think they didn't quite expect the crowds of people that started to line up outside! Then of course Wellington is all abuzz anyway with the news about the making of the Hobbit. The One Ring Net recently hosted a chat session where fans could get answers to their most burning questions directly from Peter Jackson, who will produce but not direct the two films that are planned, and from Guillermo del Toro, who will take over the director's chair. Read here.

Arohanui, from Asni

Wellington shoreline sketches, and a brand new oil painting

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last updated: 25 June, 2008