A Sibyl Watches Over the Myanmar Elections 2015

by Sue Lees

Myanmar election quote

Myanmar Historic General Election November 8 2105

Travels with a Sybil: We don’t stay home and knit when we retire!!!

Democracy is such an ordinary concept to us. We argue about how well it functions in aspects of our politics but ultimately we expect a democratic society to operate. Myanmar (Burma) has had no such belief. Democracy in Myanmar has been a cherished but fragile idea.

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I was privileged to have the opportunity to be in Myanmar for the November 8 2015 election as an accredited international election observer under the auspices of APHEDA (Australian People for Health, Education and Development Abroad also called Union Aid Abroad, which is the overseas aid agency of the ACTU) and under the leadership of Professor Damien Kingsbury, Deakin University.

Our purpose was to observe the election process – pre-polling, Election Day, counting and report any inconsistencies and problems. Particularly any opportunities that became apparent for influencing the voting. As observers we were to be highly visible, non-partisan and not allowed to interfere.

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The most positive outcome available from the electoral process that had been instigated would be (and now is) ‘Guided Democracy’ with the military constitutionally maintaining 25% of parliament and three key ministries – interior, defence and border security. The NLD must now govern with some of the military influence intact, but in can be argued that, at this stage, a full democracy with a party that has no governing experience could be unwise.

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I say that I was privileged because I had the opportunity not only to participate in the election process but also to meet and hear the Burmese. To find out what was important to them:

“Our vote is our chance to fight back”.

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Voiceless politically for so long, they were determined to be heard.

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Sue Lees, Venice, 2014

Sue Lees, Venice, 2014

Sue Lees, 56, is a retired teacher and apprentice Sibyl. Despite traveling from Australia to work as a volunteer in schols in Nepal and Timor and now observing electiona in Myanmar, she says she is quiet and quite insignificant!

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The Sibyls Sing

by Maren Rawlings

Sibylesque music quote 2

This year I am going to relive one of the most sublime experiences of Western Civilization. I shall take part as a second soprano in Verdi’s Requiem for four soloists, double choir and orchestra in the Melbourne Town Hall. It was first performed in Milan in 1874. Beginning with a plea for the eternal rest of the departed, it moves in Roman Catholic style with exuberant terror to the possible Judgement (“Dies irae, dies illa, Solvet saeclum in favilla, Teste David cum Sybilla*” Not only do our Sibyls sing, occasionally they sing about our namesake, TheSibyls. Ed.).

The cry goes out to “gentle Jesus” as past sins are remembered and prayers are offered until the great Sanctus or worship of the Trinity rings out. Then we are reminded of the Lamb of God, Light Eternal and the work ends with the incredible “Libera Me” (Deliver me).

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The best thing about this intention (apart from making “divine” music) is that I shall join about 180 other singers most of whom cannot read music. We have the wonders of the car disc player and the smart phone to thank for a whole new pool of choristers. Your part is provided on CD or you can download it from the internet and you now have a legitimate self-improvement excuse to wear those ear-buds on every possible occasion for private practice. Full throated in the car or on your walk is recommended. Give the birds and galahs a serve of their own.

Our only requirement to be in the choir is that you can SING IN TUNE and that you pay unswerving and COMPLETE ATTENTION to our Director-Conductor (Jane Elton Brown OAM). Actually, hubby does front of house and he needs help, so we shall accept non-singing members if you just want to listen while the spouse has all the fun.

You can find us at Star Chorale: A tradition of excellence in choral music if you would like further information about rehearsals or if you would like to come to the concert on 26th July at 2 pm.

*”Day of anger, day of terror, All shall crumble into ashes, As the Sibyl and David bore witness”

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Maren RawlingsMaren Rawlings is a fabulously diverse educator and music devotee. She has taught at city and country schools including a 22-year stint at MLC, Melbourne. She has lectured in psychology at RMIT University and Melbourne Uni, written Psychology textbooks and, in 2011, graduated PhD in “Humour at Work” at Swinburne University where she currently tutors.

Maren is President of the Star Chorale, a community choir and this year they sing Verdi’s Requiem with the Zelman Orchestra.

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Photo Source: Star Choral Website

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What grandparents know that others do not see: all children are beautiful.

by Penny Cook

Sibylesque Richard Louv Quote 2

All children are beautiful and in the words of developmental psychologist Urie Broffenbrenner ‘every child needs someone who is absolutely crazy about them’. Why would he say that? What does that actually mean in a child’s life?

Childhood is when children get a raw impression of who they are..based on how adults, the powerful, knowing ones respond to them. As an early childhood teacher for more years than I like to admit to, I have always believed that every child I am connected with needs to feel that I like them. It’s my first responsibility. I’m not talking about behaviour here. I’m talking about knowing the power I have and being responsible with it. As an adult (not necessarily a teacher), any interaction I have with a child has the potential to contribute to her/his internal construction of his/her worth as a human being and a member of society. And … I haven’t always done that exceptionally well.

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Adults, by definition rule the world. And children are wiser than we know. They are wise to the emotional script that we run with because essentially they are emotional beings. It has been said that children learn the teacher not the content. I’m guessing as you’re reading this you’re reflecting on your own childhoods and how you’ve grown up. Who did you respond to? Who were the adults who affirmed you and which adults did not? Children respond emotionally… that’s what attachment is about … emotional connection. As very young children ‘emotion’ is their first language, before a spoken language.

And that’s where grandparents are so important. We don’t have to make the decisions about the day-to-day routines. We don’t have to get children up in the morning and make sure they get to childcare, school or wherever. We don’t have to do the homework. We don’t have to provide the 5 food groups in the right amount.

 The research is in … We can play well beyond bedtime, read more stories than allocated, spend time listening and responding. We can stop and smell the roses with children.

We can be crazy about our grandchildren because they need us to be!!

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Penny CookPenny Cook has been an early childhood educator for over 30 years. She loves to travel  – anywhere. Penny is a mother and ‘Nan Pen’, who is continuously fascinated and amazed by her two young grandchildren.  She has always wanted to live in  a tree house by the beach …..it’s never too late!! Other wonderfully insightful articles about young children by Penny include Call me on the Banana Phone, Grandma! and Hey Grandma, try this … build your grandchild’s imagination!

Photo source: Unknown.

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After Retirement a New Career

by Dimity Reed

Roman border 2

purple quote 1Imagination creates reality.purple quote 2

……………………..Richard Wagner, Composer1813 – 1883.

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Having spent around 40 really terrific years as an architect and having rarely thought about age, my 70th birthday appeared just as a marvellous urban renewal project which had involved me for four years finished. So there were a few free moments there to contemplate how I might entertain myself, and possibly others, for what could be another 20 years.

Then, one evening, after a slightly boozy dinner, a musicologist friend asked if we wanted to go to a lecture he was giving the following day on how we humans turn sound into music. That invitation became a new life, and not just for me. We went and were so mesmerised by his ideas and presentation that I rang our youngest filmmaker son (there are a few in the family), Sam, and suggested he attend the next talk.
 He did and afterwards asked our mate, Heath Lees, if he were interested in doing a television series on music and how we hear it. He was.

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They talked for a while and agreed to talk more. Then Sam asked if I were interested in producing the series. I replied (with a rare meekness) that I knew nothing about film production. “Ah”, said Sam, “You’d be very good at it.” I don’t know about you, but in my parental experience flattery is quite unusual, so I immediately said ‘Yes’. And in early 2012 became a virgin film producer.

Screen Grab from Wagner's Ring  - A Tale Told in Music

Screen Grab from Wagner’s Ring
– A Tale Told in Music

Heath wrote a script, we hired the Salon at the Melbourne Recital Centre, put a great crew together and shot a 16 minute teaser in a week. Sam edited it and I took it to a producer in Sydney for advice. The advice was good but unexpected, “Wagner’s 4 opera Ring cycle is on in Melbourne in 2013 and Heath Lees is a world expert on Wagner. He’s a brilliant communicator so put More To Music aside and do something on The Ring.”

A screen grab from Wagner's Ring - A Tale Told in Music

A screen grab from Wagner’s Ring –
A Tale Told in Music

Heath, Sam and I took the advice and started work on four films, one on each of the Ring operas in September 2012. The scripts were written, money raised, brilliant crew again employed, wondrous singers involved and a month shooting in Europe happened. The films were completed and ready for sale in September 2013 (Available online here).

Dimity Reed, Film Editor

Dimity Reed, Film Editor

None of it was easy but it was glorious fun and the films are magical. Working with very talented people is one of life’s joys and everyone involved in Wagner’s Ring: A Tale Told in Music was hugely talented, hard-working, generous and fun.

So now we’re back where we stated, working on More To Music. And this, I think, is what the politicians call moving forward.

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Dimity Reed,  Architecture Ambassador , 2008

Dimity Reed, Architecture Ambassador , 2008

Dimity Reed’s CV includes architect, author, Professor of Urban Design at RMIT University, Board Member and Councillor of the City of St Kilda, but at 70 years of age she found a new career as Managing Director of Mad Woman Productions. Her book, Tangled Destinies – the National Museum of Australia, was published in 2002.

 

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