Welcome to this week’s blog.  Today is the birthday of two dear friends – Michael, who is celebrating his 60th birthday with friends in Brisbane this evening, and Tony, who lives in Boston, works for the Boston Symphony, and is currently on tour with that orchestra in Europe.  Wishing them both the happiest of birthdays.

So, what could I offer them both for their respective birthdays?  Well, it could be the ukulele.  The recent email fortnightly news round up from Music Australia has an article calledIt’s Official – Everybody Loves the Ukulele’ (see https://musicaustralia.org.au/2016/04/its-official-everybody-loves-the-ukulele/?utm_source=Music+Australia+Newsletter+List&utm_campaign=7171d2a9a4-Music_Australia_ENewsletter_27_April&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f536243dd9-7171d2a9a4-249768993), and refers to the third annual ukulele festival on the Sunshine Coast, which might be of particular interest to Michael who lives in Queensland.  In the Blue Mountains the key ensemble for ukulele experts and enthusiasts is BlueMUGs  (Blue Mountains Ukulele Group), which has a fantastic following in my community (see http://www.bluemugs.com.au/)

Readers of this blog might be aware that I work for the Lower Mountains Neighbourhood Centre (LMNC) in Blaxland, in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney (state of New South Wales), and we have a social group called BUGs – Blaxland Ukulele Group, an initiative of a fabulous local resident, Murray Chambers.  (You can find out more about BUGs at http://www.lmnc.org.au/page/social-health-wellbeing-groups/b-u-g-s---the-blaxland-ukulele-group)

Two of my oldest friends (not that they are old!) are Carol and John, who don’t live in the Mountains but on the coast south of Sydney, and who are part of a great initiative called the New Horizons Band in Sutherland (see https://www.facebook.com/Newhorizonsutherland).  This band is touring to the Blue Mountains later this week and will be giving a short performance at LMNC to BUGs this coming Friday, and hopefully there might be a little jam session….  This group is following the philosophy of the broader New Horizons music programs thatprovide entry points to music making for adults, including those with no musical experience at all and those who were active in school music programs but have been inactive for a long time.’ ( http://www.newhorizonsmusic.org/)  I am very much looking forward to welcoming the New Horizons Band Sutherland to the Lower Mountains Neighbourhood Centre and to BUGs.

So, yes, I could offer my friends Michael and Tony a ukelule for their respective birthdays.  Or I could offer them this week’s featured music.  This week it is the second version of ‘Hymn to the Mountains’ (see the blog on 18 April 2016 on this work at http://petawilliams.com.au/petas_blog/hymn_to_the_mountains/. )

Happy Birthday, dear friends.

Until next time,


Photograph:  Peta with the Mayor of Blue Mountains, Mark Greenhill, holding the score of 'Hymn to the Mountains (2)', at the CD launch of 'Places with high levels of natural beauty', 18 March 2016


2016-05-05 21:43:43 - Peta Williams
Hallo Michael, Thank you for your comment! SCUM certainly has an impressive website. What is it with uke groups and their names? BUGs, BlueMUGs, SCUM.... they are an imaginative lot. I dropped into the fortnightly session of BUGs this morning at the Lower Mountains Neighbourhood Centre and had a fabulous morning listening to our guests, the New Horizons Band from Sutherland, playing separately and together with BUGs. Community music making and connection at its finest. I'm so glad you liked Hymn to the Mountains (2), the companion piece to the first Hymn to the Mountains, both of which are on my new CD ('Places with high levels of natural beauty). I was touched to read your words - thank you. Peta xx
2016-05-05 00:08:16 - Michael Doneman
Inspiring as usual, Peta - congratulations! You might like to know that up on the Sunshine Coast there's a thriving ukelele community, rather unfortunately (and rather tongue-in-cheek) acronymised as SCUM (Sunshine Coast Ukelele Masters - http://www.sunshinecoastukulelemasters.com/). "Hymn to the Mountains" is sublime - I wanted it to run for 20 minutes ... beautiful, subtle, delicate, evocative of space and peace within that space.
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