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Canberra Today 1°/5° | Sunday, May 22, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Big effort but concert goes musically to the dogs!

How’s he doing that? One interested passer-by stops to get a sniff of Solomon Frank’s clarinet. Photo: Peter Hislop.


CIMF: “Ears Up” – A concert for dogs. Haig Park, Braddon, May 1. Report by IAN McLEAN.

THE “Ears Up” concert was to have been presented yesterday in the enclosed space of the dog agility course/dog park at the Mort Street end of Haig Park.

But with a weather forecast of possible heavy rain and thunderstorms, the concert was initially cancelled then rescheduled to today (May 1) with multiple performances to take place from 10am to noon.

Unfortunately, the organisation with whom CIMF had collaborated to present the concert, PAWS (Pet Assistance and Wellbeing Service) was not available to provide the original venue so the artists set up in the busy thoroughfare of the Sunday Haig Street market. 

A formal concert of any sort was not at all possible in that situation so, instead, the dog participants became those hounds randomly wandering through the park with their bemused owners.

The plan had originally been for two performers, Niki Johnson (percussion) and Solomon Frank (clarinet and bassoon) to entice dogs to become engrossed in the music then join in with a chorus of howls, barks, laughs or whatever other sounds dogs can omit. 

The percussion element was not utilised so it was down to Solomon to elicit reaction from the pooches. This he did by playing a wide variety of sounds, considered suitable by him for extracting a reaction from particular dog breeds or personalities. He was most passionate about his craft!

He’s playing my song… clarinetist Solomon Frank gets a little help. Photo: Peter Hislop.

I observed a beautiful golden labrador sniffing the clarinet bell as it was thrust in its direction. I actually feared for the clarinet as the initially gentle animal commenced to bark loudly. I don’t know if this was dog singing or if it was intending to attack the clarinet and perhaps attempt to take a bite out of it. However, pervading smells from the many food stalls seem to win over its affections and it wandered off with its owner to check out the Japanese meatballs.

A little black poodle was most curious and seemed quite fascinated with some low, slow clarinet sounds but, as soon as the pitch rose, it ran away. 

A white fox terrier seemed genuinely interested and actually got down on its belly to better view where the sounds were coming from but, sadly, another dog passed by at that very moment and the lure of a potential playmate overcame the prospect of serious music study.

I had a chat with Solomon Frank who told me of his kelpie at home who, he assured me, really does sing along and answers musical phrases. I have no reason to doubt him, but if only he’d have brought the kelpie to help educate the novices. Surely everyone knows that “demonstrate – imitate” is a well-proven teaching technique.

There may not have been a concert, but it was a lovely sunny day, the atmosphere was happy and quite a few dogs, who may have only been hoping for a little gift from the doggy treat stall, heard the sound of a clarinet for the very first time.

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Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

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