CategoryOur Diary

Alchemy Chorus – a choir for people living with dementia and their carers

Alchemy Chorus brings together people living with dementia, their relative or close friend, volunteer musicians and singers for a morning of music-making, story-sharing, laughter and fun.

The choir normally meets from 10am to 12noon on Thursdays at the Hughes Community Centre but COVID restrictions have meant a temporary relocation to the park opposite. Under the shade of an oak, the group works on its extensive repertoire under the leadership of Brian Triglone.

Barbie spoke to Alchemy Choir organisers and participants

Alchemy Chorus was founded in 2016 and provides not only the benefits of music but also of social interaction for both carers and dementia sufferers. The socialising with people who understand their situation is cited by carers as a major plus for the group. A third of the group is made up of volunteers, allowing for smooth administration and the organisation of regular concert performances.

We enjoyed a morning with the choir and found it to be a welcoming and well organised group, coping magnificently with the difficulties of the time, enjoying a great range of familiar songs and a healthy dose of laughter. Some excellent voices are members of the choir and these people are often soloists in the concerts.

New members are always welcome. It is advised to contact the choir organisers before attending. Contact details are on the Alchemy Chorus website.

Music for Canberra – A Musical Celebration

Llewellyn Hall, ANU School of Music
From 1.30pm Saturday 5 December 2020


In a COVID year full of challenges, Music for Canberra is delighted to be performing for face to face audience at its end of year musical celebration.

With concerts from young and talented String Stream Ensembles, James McCusker Orchestra and the Canberra Youth Orchestra these day and night performances will be jam packed full of music from MFC Concerto Competition winners and small ensembles, with piano accordion player Anton Wurzer and diverse repertoire including Vaughan Williams, Vieuxtemps, and Tchaikovsky.

  • String Stream Ensembles: 1.30 to 3.30pm
  • James McCusker Orchestra: 4.30- 6pm
  • Canberra Youth Orchestra: 7.30-9.30pm

Adaptation – Canberra Glassworks

In collaboration with Suki & Hugh Gallery
25 November – 20 December 2020 
Opening and Christmas launch 25 November, 4pm to 8pm

The events of 2020 have highlighted the need for collaboration and supporting each other as a community.  Hence this collaboration on the exhibition Adaptation.

Barbie interviewed some of the artists from Adaptation at the exhibition opening.

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Kylie Fogarty – In The Vines

Barton Estate Wines
2307 Barton Hwy, Murrumbateman NSW 2582
Part of the DESIGN Canberra festival
Until 29 November 2020
10am – 5pm weekends, weekdays by appointment
Meet the artist 1pm 29 November

Kylie Fogarty has been artist in residence at Barton Estate for the past seven years.

She has now created an exhibition paintings and drawings, responding to her experiences and exploring the elements which have impacted the wines during this time – heat, rain, hail, and more recently, fire and smoke.

Kylie Fogarty talks about In the Vines on site at Barton Estate Wines

The exhibition pays homage to the landscape around Barton Estate Wines, and is a tribute to the process of viticulture.

Pub Rock – National Portrait Gallery

Until 14 February 2021
Free, but sessions bookings required under COVID rules

Pub Rock celebrates the people, places, scenes and sounds defining 1970s and 1980s Australia. Drawn primarily from the Gallery’s collection and enriched with works by leading Australian music photographers including Tony Mott and Wendy McDougall, Pub Rock  features staged portraits and publicity shots alongside images captured during unguarded moments and the grungy energy of live performances.

Exhibition curator Joanna Gilmour takes Barbie on a tour of Pub Rock
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Artist Society of Canberra Annual Exhibition

The Fitters Workshop, Kingston
Tuesday 17 to Sunday 22 November 2020
Public invited to view the works and vote for the People’s Choice

There are 290 works are on display at this year’s exhibition, an amazing feat in COVID times and a mighty job of installation for Vice-President Angharad Dean and her team. The number and calibre of works must also have made it hard work for the judges.

Angharad Dean talks about the Artist Society of Canberra’s annual exhibition
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Miss Juneteenth – Film Review

Drama, in English
1 hour 43 minutes

Limited cinema release, available on streaming services

The film premiered at Sundance in January 2020, and was released via video on demand on 19 June, 2020 to mark the 155th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in Texas, from which the film derives its title.

Miss Juneteenth follows a single mother and former Miss Juneteeth, Turquoise Jones, preparing her daughter Kai for the same beauty pageant years later.

Kai clearly has other interests, but Turquoise seems determined to live out her own unfulfilled dreams through her daughter. While other former Miss Juneteenth winners have gone on to have successful careers Turquoise’s education was derailed by the birth of Kai, which forced her to drop out of college and for a time work as a stripper.

She makes many sacrifices to make sure her daughter succeeds, including the purchase of a very expensive dress, which in the end she cannot afford.

The competition, while yet another disappointment itself, allows epiphanies in several quarters for both Turquoise and Kai.

While there is not a lot of visible emancipation in the society depicted in this film, it nevertheless explores aspects of female empowerment. Amidst the grim social justice questions raised by the film there is a bright note when we realise that the film is carried largely by black female actors – the medium itself becoming the message, as it were.

The coming of age theme works well for the Kai character, but equally for Turquoise who see a light all her own when she finally acknowledges that the Miss Juneteenth pageant is not the only route to success and that she can forge ahead without attaching herself to a man.

At times I found the dialogue difficult to understand – I am not sure if this was due to the small screen viewing or my own unaccustomed ear. While this did not prevent understanding of the plot or themes, it was a trifle irritating.

On the other hand, the denouement was deeply satisfying.

  • Writer/Director: Channing Godfrey Peoples
  • Producers: Toby Halbrooks, Tim Headington, Jeanie Igoe, James M. Johnston, Theresa Page, Neil Creque Williams
  • Nicole Beharie as Turquoise Jones
  • Kendrick Sampson as Ronnie
  • Alexis Chikaeze as Kai Jones

NAIDOC in the North

Belconnen Arts Centre
8 to 15 November 2020
Information and bookings:

An online and live celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Culture through story, song, art dance and ceremony.

A range of online performances from some of Canberra’s most accomplished Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists will be released online throughout the week from the Belco Arts website

Barbie talks with Michele Grimston about NAIDOC in the North
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National Capital Orchestra resumes live rehearsals

Keep up to date at

When the orchestra last convened in March of this year, it was well into preparations for a concert in celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday, which included the composer’s famous 5th Symphony.

Barbie talks with the National Capital Orchestra’s Louis Sharpe
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ConneXion Big Band – live at the Harmonie German Club

Directed by Justin Buckingham
Featuring vocalists Neille Williams and Tony Haley and composers/arrangers Mike Dooley, Sally Greenaway and Bryan Hooley
12.30 to 3.30pm Sunday 22 November 2020

This is the first live event for the band in 2020 due to Covid shut downs and restrictions and hence a cause for celebration.

ConneXion Big Band is a long established Canberra-based community jazz band open to all comers who are of a suitable musical standard. 

Justin Buckingham, director of ConneXion Big Band

The band delivers a wide cross-section of big band era and popular music styles.  ConneXion also commissions and performs music written by Australian musicians, including local composers.

As COVID restrictions ease here, the Harmonie German Club has welcomed the opportunity to showcase the ConneXion repertoire by inviting the band to provide the musical backdrop to what looks to be a very enjoyable lunch out. 

  • Book at –, or pay slightly more at the door
  • Restrictions – due to COVID-19 restrictions numbers are limited to 100, so an early booking is probably safer; no dancing permitted
  • Ticket prices – Concession $11.58; Adult $27.33; reserved table of 6 $132.28; lunch and show $64.06 per person

Marion Schumacher – Seasons

Bungendore Fine Art
From 7 November 2020

Marion Schumacher’s exhibition depicts the beauty of the Australian bush – the trees, the rocks, the waterways. With affection and a keen eye for detail, Marion invites us to observe the preciousness of pristine natural places and to note not just the broad sweep of a view but to also see the finer aspects a closer inspection delivers.

Marion Schumacher walks around the exhibition with Barbie

Her subjects in this exhibition include coral reefs, waterfalls, the beach, boats and tree filled scenes, all capturing the particular qualities of light rendered by the changing seasons.

Marion has drawn and painted since childhood. After attending art colleges and privately run art schools, she freelanced as a sign writer before becoming a professional artist in her 20s. She recently became a partner in the Bungendore Fine Art Gallery.

Image: Marion Schumacher – Southern Tablelands View

Paul Jurak – Kayak Cameraman 2021 Calendar

Paul Jurak began kayaking in the thick of a punishing treatment regime for cancer, intending it to be a physical path to returned fitness. Never having kayaked, he took the plunge and bought two kayaks on the basis of an advertisement for a 50 per cent special, ventured untrained onto the lake and on his first sortie snapped a photo of his son using a phone camera.

Barbie talks with Paul Jurak
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Liz Lea: Interconnect – a DESIGN Canberra Festival event

Gorman House Arts Centre, Braddon
21 November at 2.30pm and 4.30pm
Bookings limited and essential, $30 and $25

Interconnect is a sharing of movement and design, exploring the connections between India and Canberra, from the 80,000 years of history of the land, to the designs of Burley Griffin and the present Covid restrictions upon and within the body.

Barbie speaks with Liz Lea about Interconnect

Liz Lea, Apsaras Arts Canberra,  Vanaja Dasika, Ira Patkar, Debora di Centa and Rainbow for a delightful foray into classical Indian and contemporary dance viewed through the design of the body, place and space.

Photograph credit: Barbie Robinson, Writing with Light – Liz Lea in performance at NPG 2020

DESIGN Canberra festival

Presented by Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre
9 to 29 November 2020
Various venues

Now in its seventh year of events, exhibitions, activations, tours and talks, the festival celebrates Walter and Marion Griffin’s visionary design a century ago and the vibrant arts practice evident in this 21st century city.

Throughout November 2020, over 200 events, exhibitions, talks, tours, markets, artist studios and open homes will be showcased as DESIGN Canberra. The festival is for all interests and ages and most events are free. Last year a record 114,000 people attended the festival.

Full program at

Covid-safe conditions apply to all events.

Due to COVID-19, many DESIGN Canberra events will be smaller to meet social restrictions. We will need to manage numbers and bookings more closely. They don’t want people to miss out because someone has booked but not turned up. And so this year you’ll notice a couple of new processes.

There will be limits on the number of tickets you can book at one time, and more events will have a modest fee. This will hopefully mitigate the urge to book first and decide whether to go later. Other conditions of booking will be listed on the individual event pages.

Craft ACT is a registered charity and so proceeds from the booking fee will go directly to supporting local craft artists and designers.

The health and safety of audience and presenters is DESIGN Canberra’s top priority and so you are reminded to please stay home if any of the following applies to you:

  • You have had a COVID-19 test and are waiting for results
  • You have had contact with someone who has COVID-19 in the past 14 days
  • You are unwell or experiencing any symptoms of a cold or flu, even if it is just a little sniffle
  • You have visited a COVID-19 hotspot in the past 14 days

Photo: Darren Bradley

Music for Canberra appoints new artistic co-convenors

Dr Nicole Hammill and Rachel Gould have just been appointed as artistic co-convenors at Music For Canberra.

Sydney-born Nicole Hammill studied in the US for 11 years, achieving a Doctor of Musical Arts from Louisiana State University.  She subsequently lectured at two American universities and returned to Australia to lecture at James Cook University. 

Dr Hammill has taught at the Queensland Conservatorium the Queensland University of Technology and the University of Southern Queensland. 

She has been an active soloist and chamber musician, performing with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra since1999. She has acted as Principal First Violin for five years. 

An AMEB examiner and frequent adjudicator, in 2007, she completed a Graduate Diploma of Counselling, leading to an interest in personality theory and its application to music teaching.

Dr Hammill will take prime responsibility for the classical music orchestras and instruction for MFC.

Nicole Hammill and Rachel Gould spoke to Barbie about their appointment as artistic co-convenors at Music for Canberra

Rachel Gould is a Bachelor of Music graduate from the ANU School of Music, where she studied clarinet and piano.

She has worked in the Canberra music scene for around 20 years, including at ANU, as a professional stage manager,  as production and operations manager at the National Folk Festival, and as production and venue manager for the Canberra International Music Festival.

Propelled by a passion for youth music education, she has also been the ACT outreach officer managing the ACT Musica Viva in Schools program and Masterclass Series, and the artistic director of the Young Music Society’s summer school program. Rachel will focus particularly on non-classical music programs at MFC.

The new co-convenors share a passion for youth music education and will no doubt contribute richly with their talents and  impressive qualifications to the MFC organisation and to Canberra’s music landscape.