Singers salute patron Barbara Blackman’s birthday

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Barbara Blackman and the cake. Photo: Peter Hislop.

MUSIC patron and writer Barbara Blackman celebrated her 90th birthday on Saturday (December 22) with a lively crowd of arty friends and family.

As long-time friend Adrian Keenan told those present, Blackman had done well to make it, since she had spent about half the past year in hospital after a fall and subsequent complications.

The good news was that a medical breakthrough which Keenan said would soon be documented  in European medical journals, meant she was back at home and on the way to a speedy recovery and many more years of life in the arts.

Sarahlouise Owens and baritone Colin Milner singing from “La Traviata.” Photo: Peter Hislop.

Serenading the crowd were soprano Sarahlouise Owens and baritone Colin Milner, who whipped the well-wishers into action with a rendition of “Hello Barbara”(It’s nice to have you back where you belong.)

After Owens and Milner followed with touching renditions of “The Merry Widow Waltz” and “Dite alla giovine, sì bella e pura” from “La Traviata,” it was time for something entirely original.

August Blackman reads ‘The Ballad of Jack. Photo: Peter Hislop.

Composer Vincent Plush, who lived for many years a few doors away from Blackman in Yarralumla, had set to music a poem from her 2011 Halstead press anthology “Dogs and Doggerel.”

“The Ballad of Jack,” a joyous tale written for her favourite departed Jack Russell, a dog of ‘human mind,’ was first read by Blackman’s son August, followed by an animated recital of the song by Owens, accompanied by Colleen Grafton-Green on piano.

The afternoon also featured the cutting of a Queensland treacle and ginger cake baked to mark Blackman’s Brisbane origins, and a hearty round of “The First Nowell,” to be posted online for all to see.








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Helen Musa
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