Morag Fraser

Morag Fraser

Morag Fraser was Chairperson of ABR and was for many years Editor of Eureka Street. She is currently writing a biography of the poet Peter Porter.

The Dream of Gerontius (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra)

ABR Arts 13 March 2018
The Dream of Gerontius (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra)
Edward Elgar’s great work of poetic soul-scouring and symphonic grandeur had a mired reception at its première in Birmingham in 1900, years before Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring sparked its famous riot in Paris in 1913. Both composers had stretched the tolerance of their audiences, requiring open minds and an ear for new tonalities. Elgar had the additional misfortune of an insufficiently prepar ... (read more)

The Lady and the Unicorn (Art Gallery of New South Wales)

ABR Arts 16 February 2018
The Lady and the Unicorn (Art Gallery of New South Wales)
One of France’s great treasures, the five-hundred-year-old, six-panel tapestry series called The Lady and the Unicorn, is in Australia for four months, courtesy of some fortuitous inter-museum contacts, and deft work by the Art Gallery of New South. A loan of such significance usually takes years to negotiate. This one was finalised and mounted at warp speed (one might say). Don’t miss it; it ... (read more)

Morag Fraser reviews 'Martin Luther: Rebel in an age of upheaval' by Heinz Schilling, translated by Rona Johnston

November 2017, no. 396 25 October 2017
Morag Fraser reviews 'Martin Luther: Rebel in an age of upheaval' by Heinz Schilling, translated by Rona Johnston
Australia’s politicians may be too mired in power skirmishes to notice that 31 October 2017 marked the five-hundredth anniversary of Martin Luther’s trumpet blast of the Reformation: the posting of the Ninety-Five Theses, his ‘Disputation on the Power of Indulgences’, on the bulletin board of a castle church in the provincial university town of Wittenberg. Pity. Even self-serving men might ... (read more)

Das Lied von der Erde and Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra)

ABR Arts 03 July 2017
Das Lied von der Erde and Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra)
Schubert’s most famous ‘unfinished’ work, the Eighth Symphony, is unconventional in a number of ways, its B minor key and the opening movement’s 3/4 pulse not least of them. Mahler’s grand Lied is a match in strangeness – setting, as it does, a miscellany of ancient, wry Chinese poetry to music that is supremely European, for all its oriental reference, and absolutely of its time – i ... (read more)

The irreplaceable: A tribute to John Clarke (1948–2017) by Morag Fraser

May 2017, no. 391 27 April 2017
Years ago, when I was editing a magazine, John Clarke would occasionally ring, sometimes to discuss what might have been called business, but, more often, just out of the blue. John would talk and I would listen. And so would the entire office staff – listen. They’d get the cue from our wily receptionist, pick up their extensions and stop work for the duration of the call. If they’d had an e ... (read more)

Morag Fraser reviews 'Light and Shadow: Memoirs of a spy's son' by Mark Colvin

March 2017, no. 389 22 February 2017
Morag Fraser reviews 'Light and Shadow: Memoirs of a spy's son' by Mark Colvin
Mark Colvin’s fine memoir – of a journalist’s life and as a spy’s son – was completed before the Macquarie Dictionary chose ‘fake news’ as its word of the year, and the OED and Merriam-Webster opted for ‘post truth’ and ‘surreal’. In July 2016, as Colvin was writing his acknowledgments chapter, Donald Trump was being nominated as the Republican candidate for the presidency of ... (read more)

Missa Solemnis (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra)

ABR Arts 31 August 2016
Missa Solemnis (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra)
How fortunate was Rudolph Johann Joseph Rainer, Archduke of Austria. In his short life (he died at forty-three), he enjoyed the privileges of empire and the high positions that accrued to his noble state – including the ecclesiastical roles of cardinal and archbishop. Yet we would hardly remember Rudolph had he not been also the chosen pupil of Beethoven, and patron and dedicatee of Beethoven's ... (read more)

Monteverdi’s Vespers (Melbourne Recital Centre)

ABR Arts 01 March 2016
Monteverdi’s Vespers (Melbourne Recital Centre)
Reaching for an English word to capture the shifting rhythmic pulse of his Concerto Italiano's performances of Monteverdi, director Rinaldo Alessandrini hazarded 'elasticity'. 'Is that the word?', he queried ABC Radio National's Andrew Ford (who had suggested 'freedom'). It was, yes, and Ford went on to ask, 'Like jazz?' Exactly. Amazingly. Like jazz. As alive, unpredictable, and fresh as a great ... (read more)

Brooklyn

ABR Arts 08 February 2016
Brooklyn
Film publicity is rarely subtle, so don't see Brooklyn if you are looking for the love-triangle tearjerker that its release poster promises. A film with its source in the spare, luminous writing of Colm Tóibín – as perceptive about women as any man writing – is never going to be standard Hollywood fare. Brooklyn benefits also from thoughtful direction by Irishman John Crowley (whose credits ... (read more)

Morag Fraser reviews 'The Secret Chord' by Geraldine Brooks

October 2015, no. 375 24 September 2015
Morag Fraser reviews 'The Secret Chord' by Geraldine Brooks
Geraldine Brooks credits her son, Nathaniel, with sparking the idea and title for her latest novel. For his bar mitzvah, Nathaniel chose to play an arrangement for harp of Leonard Cohen’s famous ‘Hallelujah’. It begins with these lines: ‘Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord / That David played, and it pleased the Lord.’ Music is crucial to Brooks’s novel – the warp to its narra ... (read more)
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