When the grieving nation put an end to Griffin’s original design

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AMONG the 200 odd events at this year’s DESIGN Canberra, is an unlikely contribution from the music world.

Flowers of War. 2017 Season Launch.
With Chris Latham violin, Louise Page soprano and Aaron Chew piano.

2013 “CityNews” Artist of the Year, and now, artist in residence at the Australian War Memorial, violinist Christopher Latham will join pianist Edward “Teddy” Neeman to perform his great-uncle Peter Latham’s “Violin Sonata” and “Adagio”, written in 1919.

But before that, he’ll give an illustrated talk for DESIGN Canberra, in which he will discuss the Griffins’ plan for Canberra and in particular the cultural precinct that was to become Anzac Parade.

It’s not the first time Latham has ventured into the world of architecture and mathematics. He’s become something of an expert on the Masonic geometry in the buildings of architect JS Murdoch such as Old Parliament House and Ainslie Arts Centre, so will be joined by architect Philip Leeson, ACT chapter president of the Australian Institute of Architects, who will reveal the latter building’s connection to the Griffins’ plan.

In the original pre-WW1 designs for Canberra, as Latham will explain, Marion Mahony Griffin and Walter Burley Griffin planned to have a stadium by the lake at the foot of Anzac Parade, flanked by a theatre and an opera house and then, extending up toward the War Memorial site, museums, galleries, public baths, a gymnasium and a zoo.

The nation’s need to grieve put an end to all that, he says. Anzac Parade now leads to the Australian War Memorial and the arts institutions were moved to the other side of the lake, and the stadium to a suburb.

Griffin plan for Canberra – “sacred geometry”.

Using maps of Canberra overlaid with the “sacred geometry” that initially informed the Griffins’ plans, Latham will show how this precinct evolved their time in Canberra, as they adapted to the contours of the land and the defining events of history that surrounded the city’s birth.

As for his great-uncle’s music, he discovered that by accident when researching at the Royal Academy of Music in London in 2016. Peter Latham’s musical career was cut short when he lost the use of his right arm after it was shattered by a bullet in WWI, but went on to become a well-known lecturer on music and prominent musicologist and author.

As well as the “Violin Sonata” and “Adagio for violin and piano”, Latham, Neeman, and 2010 “CityNews” Artist of the Year, cellist David Pereira, will also premiere a new arrangement of works by Robert Schumann.

“Memory, Healing and the Arts in the Griffin’s vision for Canberra”, Ainslie Arts Centre, 7pm, Wednesday, November 6. Bookings at trybooking.com



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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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