The Herald’s Diary:
The New Zealand International Arts Festival rolls into its final week. Among the virtuoso performances has been one by Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Chris Finlayson, although we are not sure he was supposed to have been the one performing. However, his chairing of an Arts Talk session with esteemed Russian-born conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy had the tongues wagging. To say the minister was well-briefed was an understatement. He had prepared no less than 25 erudite and highly detailed questions to put to Ashkenazy.
Here’s one example. “Once former British Prime Minister Ted Heath, an accomplished conductor, was asked whether he preferred conducting orchestras or chairing cabinet meetings. He answered ‘the former’ because orchestras have a unity of purpose, the players work toward a common goal, the output is excellent and they accept the leadership of the conductor. You have never been stuck in a Cabinet meeting but, thinking of all the orchestras you have worked with, is what he said about working with an orchestra been your experience? Did you know Ted Heath? Is it true of Italian orchestras that they are impossible to conduct?” And that was just the first question.
I’m surprised Chris only had 25 questions!