All posts by Naomi Joy

My favourite things about Fantastic Feasts

By Riho Kojima

The Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities has been presenting new and exciting exhibitions every year. In 2019 the theme of the exhibition is Fantastic Feasts. The exhibition will give you an inside view on ancient food culture including kitchenware, common and luxury food items, decoration of tableware, the role of food in culture and religion and much more!

For the main part of the museum, they have pottery from almost all the eras from ancient to modern time, for instance,  geometric patterns from very early periods like 10th/9th century BCE, vases with general pictures of animals from 8th/7th century BCE, mythology based vases from 7th to 5th century BCE and even modern interpretations.

My favourite case in the exhibition is the one you see besides the entrance which shows the huge bowl of fermented fish sauce, stir-fried dormouse with sesame seeds and a stuffed rabbit with birds’ wings which resembles a pegasus.

Even without reading the description, this should be amusing enough to evoke a little laugh and lead visitors further into the exhibition. Staff said that they were a little nervous that some people might think this case is inappropriate. Personally I think a museum does not only need to be a place for serious study; it is always nice to have a little fun while you are engaging with learning!

One significant difference in this year’s exhibition is that there are a lot more interactive stations compared to the past exhibitions. This will make it easier for visitors to engage with the topic by comparing ancient life and their own life. For example, as soon as you walk in, you will see the three gorgeous ruby-red couches in the centre of the museum. This is a replica of a Triclinium (literally a three couch room) where Roman elites used to welcome their guests with their best wine. These couches would be a great area for discussion between visitors and staff like the Romans used to do. In addition, I would highly recommend you pick up the replica of the ancient wine cup from one of the couches and pretend to drink some wine from it. You will see why it has unique patterns that look like eyes on the outside of the cup rather than inside.

In one of the corners of the exhibition there is an activity space where you can work through questions on tiles that are perfectly pitched for beginners to engage with the classical world. You can compare costs of food ingredients based on your favourite dish between modern and ancient time, while you can learn a few words in Latin. The case that compares the cost of breads from each period of history was also really interesting. There are also labels in each of the cases which help you self-guide your experience in the Teece Museum, learning new and interesting facts about the objects as you walk around the exhibition.

The museum is open from 11am to 3pm, Wednesday to Sunday at the Arts Centre and this exhibition closes Sunday 23 February 2020. The Teece also hosts several kind of events, such as free public talks. The next one is on the evening of Friday 13 September, “Sappho, Satyrs, Socrates and Seduction”.

Concert review: Recent Student Works, UC Music

A review by Riho Kojima:

UC School of Music had an exciting time at our concert ‘New Music Central: Recent UC Student Works’, on Monday 13 May. This was one of our regular Monday programmes, but this time it was at a different venue – the TSB Space in Tūranga, the new central library. Having our performance here certainly made it outstanding!

Our usual venue, the UC Arts Recital Room in the Arts Centre, is so small and cosy you feel close to the performer. However, the TSB is almost double the size so there was enough space between the stage, audience and especially for technical equipment, without the venue feeling tight. As soon as you walked into the site, you could feel the sharp mood given from its spaciousness and being surrounded by black walls and floor. It seemed to be encouraging people to join in even during the concert by having entrance at the opposite side of the stage and stylish cylinder-shaped sofas placed behind the regular seats. 

The program had variation of performances such as quiet and sensitive strings, strong and energetic piano, pop music and even fully electronic compositions and theatre-performance using cell-phones.

One of the performances that I personally found appealing was Echo of a Sonata composed and performed by Gabriel Baird (piano), influenced by Debussy and a Russian composer and pianist, Kapustin, who is well-known for using jazz idioms within classical structures. Gabriel’s piece is in sonata form, which consists of two sections. The A section was a beautiful shower of rapid, chaotic piano tunes with colourful jazzy chords, while the B section was brooding, calm and mysterious in its mood. Gabriel says that this piece was mostly based on a few improvised phrases. These phrases expressed frustration and anxiousness through their unstable and irregular tempo, with the addition of occasional accents with clashing chords.

The most unique spectacle in the concert was certainly Voice Pollution: Quartet for Four Cellphones composed by Rosa Elliot, performed by John Armstrong, Naomi van den Broek, Oscar Days and Daniel Mathers. Through this performance, what you see is four characters sitting on equally spaced chairs. Their bodies are facing the audience but eyes are locked on their phones while chaotic noises of social media are coming through the loudspeakers. Rosa says that this was a new challenge for her, to compose something fun and non-orchestral, and to point out the addiction to smartphones and the internet which everyone would have experienced these days.

It was spine-chilling to see those figures connected online via messaging or calling, but with the physical distance between them, each trapped in bubbles of the lights from their device – which is the only way for the audience to see their face in the pitch dark room. Rosa said that the performance differs every time since all the noise on the speaker is from their phone, playing  what they swipe on from whatever website they are on at that time. I think this makes the performance more realistic thus it successfully conveyed her strong message of warning about the dangers of this type of addiction.

Lastly I want to talk about one of the contemporary music performances which was full of powerful emotions. This was the songs Wondering and Rise Up composed by Nicole Taylor, performed by Nicole (voice) and Jeremy Lidstone (piano). Nicole says she composed the melody of both songs in group work from her high school. She says her influences are Shawn Mendes and Alessia Cara, both Canadian pop singers and songwriters. She made an interesting comment that every time she performs Wondering it changes the perspectives and meaning as she gains more experience in her life. In contrast, Rise Up is created with the purpose of releasing the struggling emotions caused from an accident that happened to her and her friends in which they lost a friend. 

For those who missed this concert there is good news! Another concert, Recent Student Works 2 is coming on October the 14th so make sure to mark it in your schedule! There are also several videos of performances, not only by UC music students but guest performers from various countries, uploaded on our Youtube channel, University of Canterbury Music Performance. I truly recommend watching these videos as this is definitely a fantastic opportunity to engage with a variety of music genres; just what UC Music is aiming for.

The remainder of the programme featured the following student works:

Yggdrasil for Violoncello and Harp composed by Thomas Bedggood; the concert started with this calm, mysterious and empyreal music. This piece was inspired from Yggdrasil, the massive world tree in Norse mythology. Performed by Mark Mensies (viola) and Ning Chiang (harp).

Volkstanze no. 3 “Djupblå” for Solo Violin, composed  by Thomas Bedggod; Thomas notes “this is the third in an ongoing series of solo works for stringed instruments, that seek to explore different aspects of the instruments written for whilst incorporating material from a wide range of cultural sources.”

Sonata for Violin and Piano, composed by Rakuto Kurano, Performed by Rakuto (violin) and Gabriel Baird (piano). This splendid and speedy tune with Japanese music idioms quickly shifted the atmosphere in the room from classical to modern vibes.

Miniature Compositions for Computer group work by Pius Lee, Cameron Buyers, Rosa Elliott, Nicole Taylor and Oscar Days. This collection of compositions by students studying electronic music and sound design was played through loudspeakers, and consisted of distorted voices and synthesised tunes, exploring “the idea of the virtual phantom sound space that exists between the loudspeakers”.

Where My Heart Used To Be and Makeup composed and performed by Hannah Everingham (voice & guitar); her sweet breathy voice with quiet guitar was the perfect way to relax at the end of a busy day. 

 

 

BBC Radio star Natalie Haynes to spend time with UC Classics students

While in Christchurch as part of her performance at WORD Christchurch Shifting Points of View season, Natalie Haynes is taking time out of her schedule to spend with UC Classics students and staff.

Natalie is a writer and broadcaster; the star of the BBC Radio 4 series ‘Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics’ and author of four books on classical themes. Her new novel, ‘A Thousand Ships’ was published in May of this year and is a retelling of the Trojan War.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natalie is presenting her acclaimed show ‘Troy Story’ on Sunday August 18 at 6pm in the Great Hall at the Arts Centre of Christchurch. She will be introduced by Head of Classics, Enrica Sciarrino and the Teece Museum will be open from 5pm before the event. Interested students can use this link to pick up a ticket for $15. 

During ‘Troy Story’, Natalie will take you on a tour around Trojan War, the greatest conflict in ancient literature, perhaps in literature full stop. From the causes of the war (divine displeasure) to its complex aftermath, this show encompasses some of the greatest poetry ever written. The stories of the women whose lives the war affected have been largely untold, from the Amazon warrior, Penthesilea, to the priestess who saw the whole thing coming, Cassandra. Continuing a project she began with her novel, The Children of Jocasta, Natalie takes the women out of the shadows and puts them back where they belong: in the middle of the story.

Following her performance for WORD, UC Classics is very excited to be hosting Natalie in conversation at an exclusive event for UC Classics students and staff. The discussion will include areas of Natalie’s research and writing, their own research areas and other topics of interest relevant to current UC Classics courses; a fantastic opportunity and a real treat for the department!