As newsrooms disappear and shrink across Australia, these ‘invisible’ multicultural newspapers are going strong – Neos Kosmos

As News Corp became the latest media company to announce major cuts this year, one part of Australia’s news landscape continues to prove surprisingly resilient.

The country’s multicultural newspapers are by no means immune to shocks in the industry but loyal readerships and niche advertising have kept them afloat.

Committed readerships

Multicultural newspapers in Australia date back more than 150 years and boomed in the post-WWII years as the country welcomed waves of migrants.

While many have come and gone, dozens are still operating, including the 125-year-old Australian Jewish News (AJN).

“[We service] a really strong community that is very connected,” David Redman, CEO of AJN publishers Polaris Media, told SBS News.

“It’s an advertising-driven model and we have a subscription base. That combination does help, but really, the paper’s survival is a testament to the loyalty of the community more than anything else.

“The readership is very committed to having a newspaper that is able to explore the world through their eyes and be able to give them an insight into what’s happening from their perspective.

“It always comes back to stories … What holds any community together is the stories they share, the things that they talk about.”

READ MORE: How is COVID-19 changing multiculturalism and the nature of migration to Australia?

Publishing stories such as “My Ramadan in lockdown” and “Hospitality unconstrained through virtual iftars”, the Australasian Muslim Times (AMUST) has also weathered the recent storm of media disruption.

Editor-in-chief Zia Ahmad told SBS News the newspaper has “really flourished” since it relaunched in 2014 and that interest had increased during the pandemic.

“It has been well-received by the community,” Mr Ahmad told SBS News.

“We are not just regurgitating the TV and other newspapers. For example, there’s a murder. You’ll find that on every channel, everywhere. That same story.”

READ MORE: 60 years of Neos Kosmos

Mr Ahmad said AMUST also differentiates itself from mainstream media in other ways.

“The mainstream newspapers are talking about wars and rapes and muggings and negative news, with the understanding that negative news sells,” he said.

“We market our newspaper as a positive story newspaper … [With stories on] interfaith dialogue, people being brought together – you don’t see that in most newspapers.”

Mr Ahmad also credited the newspaper’s ongoing success with its embrace of digital platforms.

“You can’t just rely on print,” he said.

Steady advertising dollars
A key reason behind the resilience of these newspapers has been a stable advertising base that wants to target Australia’s migrant communities.

The 28 May issue of Italian language newspaper, La Fiamma, featured ads for Italian food distribution companies, Italian social clubs and in-language political advertisements for both Labor and Coalition MPs.

Dario Nelli, the editor of Sydney’s La Fiamma and its Melbourne counterpart Il Globo, said there had been consistent support from advertisers through the years.

“They want to market to the Italian community,” Mr Nelli said.

“Small firms, even big firms, clubs, associations – they can see the role of the newspaper and they support us.

“When councils want to communicate something to the Italian community they go through us … And politicians know they can reach the whole community through us.”

During the pandemic, La Fiamma, Il Globo and other multicultural newspapers have also featured COVID-19 public service announcements, often in full-page format.

READ MORE: Do we need to ‘reboot’ our policy of multiculturalism?

As a result, Mr Nelli said he was optimistic about the future of his newspapers.

“The day is far away when there won’t be a need for La Fiamma and Il Globo. I’m optimistic we can keep going for quite a while.”

‘So much uncertainty’

However, all the outlets SBS News spoke to were keenly aware of the challenges around the news landscape, especially during the pandemic.

The Chinese language press has been particularly hard-hit this year. The Sing Tao Daily – the country’s largest and longest-running Chinese language newspaper – closed, while other publications stopped their print editions.

Christopher Gogos, the publisher of the 63-year-old Greek newspaper, Neos Kosmos, is worried about the sustainability of the newspapers in the digital age.

“We’ve had similar problems to what all other publishers have had. We’re not immune to it. Having a more niche audience and community does help … [But] there is still so much uncertainty,” he said.

Mr Gogos said readership is booming, but this is largely thanks to the digital version of the newspaper.

“It’s encouraging that there are a lot of people reading us in the digital space, but like every other publisher in the world, it’s about monetising that … How do we get decent enough revenue to have paid journalists and to make it sustainable.”

Mr Gogos said multicultural newspapers like Neos Kosmos play a vital role in Australia.

“We don’t just exist for commercial reasons … What we provide, there’s a community need for it,” he said.

“It’s important that we have community discussions, it’s part of the public discourse, part of our debate, part of our democracy, it’s critical.”

He said Australia would be far worse off if multicultural newspapers closed.

“The problem I see, if there is no viability for multicultural media to exist, you’re going to have a vacuum and it’s going to be filled up with discussions on Facebook and other social media and the quality of our information will deteriorate,” he said.

“It will be really sad if that happens.”

It is a point echoed by Tim Soutphommasane, Australia’s former race discrimination commissioner who is now the director of culture strategy at the University of Sydney.

“[These newspapers] are often invisible to Australians who don’t read them. But the reality is in multicultural Australian society, members of our community get their news from multiple sources, not only from English language sources,” Mr Soutphommasane said.

He said for new arrivals to Australia, these mastheads can “form an important bridge between one’s home county and one’s new country”.

READ MORE: Neos Kosmos, our newspaper in the palm of your hands

“Mainstream Australian English language media just does not resemble what our multicultural society looks like in any meaningful form … We will lose diversity if we see these media outlets folding,” he said.

“The diversity not only of voices and faces, but also of the diversity of stories is going to suffer.”

This article was reprinted with the permission of SBS.

Best of the week: What to see, hear and do from May 31 to June 6 – Brisbane Times

FILM Watch Kriv Stenders’ award-winning 2005 film Blacktown (rated MA) as part of Western Sydney Shorts (until June 9), which releases a film every Tuesday and Friday evening to watch for the next 10 days with the program offering a cinematic insight into the multicultural region. 7.30pm, free, blacktownarts.com.au

Hip-hop group Thundamentals are taking their shows online. Credit:Adam Scarf

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 3

MUSIC Hip-hop group Thundamentals are partway through their month-long weekly video series Iso Tapes (until June 10), which has the group digging into their archives to share unreleased footage from past performances. Today they premiere a version of their catchy track True Love backed by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. 7pm, free, thundamentals.com.au

THURSDAY, JUNE 4

FILM Catch a virtual screening of independent documentary In My Blood It Runs (rated PG), which follows 10-year-old Arrernte/Garrwa boy, Dujuan, and the prejudices he faces. After the movie filmmaker Maya Newell takes part in a question-and-answer session. 6.30pm, $14.75, inmyblooditruns.com

FRIDAY, JUNE 5

BOOKS Author Imbi Neeme launches her debut novel The Spill (Viking, $32.99), which picked up the 2019 Penguin Literary Prize, via Zoom as she discusses her writing journey in creating the story of a car crash in Western Australia and its effects on a family. 6.30pm, free (bookings essential), penguin.com.au

SATURDAY, JUNE 6

MUSIC Melbourne Digital Concert Hall’s new Aquilina Gala Series kicks off with its first weekly concert, a program of Haydn, Bach and Beethoven performed by violinists Dale Barltrop and Sophie Rowell, string ensemble Quartz Quartet and more. 7.30pm, $30, melbournedigitalconcerthall.com

As newsrooms disappear and shrink across Australia, these ‘invisible’ multicultural newspapers are going strong – SBS News

As News Corp became the latest media company to announce major cuts this year, one part of Australia’s news landscape continues to prove surprisingly resilient.

The country’s multicultural newspapers are by no means immune to shocks in the industry but loyal readerships and niche advertising have kept them afloat.

Committed readerships

Multicultural newspapers in Australia date back more than 150 years and boomed in the post-WWII years as the country welcomed waves of migrants.

A selection of local multicultural newspapers.

Nick Baker

While many have come and gone, dozens are still operating, including the 125-year-old Australian Jewish News (AJN).

“[We service] a really strong community that is very connected,” David Redman, CEO of AJN publishers Polaris Media, told SBS News.

“It’s an advertising-driven model and we have a subscription base. That combination does help, but really, the paper’s survival is a testament to the loyalty of the community more than anything else.

“The readership is very committed to having a newspaper that is able to explore the world through their eyes and be able to give them an insight into what’s happening from their perspective.

“It always comes back to stories … What holds any community together is the stories they share, the things that they talk about.”

Publishing stories such as “My Ramadan in lockdown” and “Hospitality unconstrained through virtual iftars”, the Australasian Muslim Times (AMUST) has also weathered the recent storm of media disruption.

Editor-in-chief Zia Ahmad told SBS News the newspaper has “really flourished” since it relaunched in 2014 and that interest had increased during the pandemic.

“It has been well-received by the community,” Mr Ahmad told SBS News.

“We are not just regurgitating the TV and other newspapers. For example, there’s a murder. You’ll find that on every channel, everywhere. That same story.”

Mr Ahmad said AMUST also differentiates itself from mainstream media in other ways.

“The mainstream newspapers are talking about wars and rapes and muggings and negative news, with the understanding that negative news sells,” he said.

“We market our newspaper as a positive story newspaper … [With stories on] interfaith dialogue, people being brought together – you don’t see that in most newspapers.”

Mr Ahmad also credited the newspaper’s ongoing success with its embrace of digital platforms.

“You can’t just rely on print,” he said.

Steady advertising dollars

A key reason behind the resilience of these newspapers has been a stable advertising base that wants to target Australia’s migrant communities.

The 28 May issue of Italian language newspaper, La Fiamma, featured ads for Italian food distribution companies, Italian social clubs and in-language political advertisements for both Labor and Coalition MPs.

Dario Nelli, the editor of Sydney’s La Fiamma and its Melbourne counterpart Il Globo, said there had been consistent support from advertisers through the years.

“They want to market to the Italian community,” Mr Nelli said.

An insert from the 28 May issue of Italian language newspaper La Fiamma.

Nick Baker

“Small firms, even big firms, clubs, associations – they can see the role of the newspaper and they support us.

“When councils want to communicate something to the Italian community they go through us … And politicians know they can reach the whole community through us.”

During the pandemic, La Fiamma, Il Globo and other multicultural newspapers have also featured COVID-19 public service announcements, often in full-page format.

A COVIDSafe ad in La Fiamma.

Nick Baker

As a result, Mr Nelli said he was optimistic about the future of his newspapers.

“The day is far away when there won’t be a need for La Fiamma and Il Globo. I’m optimistic we can keep going for quite a while.”

‘So much uncertainty’

However, all the outlets SBS News spoke to were keenly aware of the challenges around the news landscape, especially during the pandemic.

The Chinese language press has been particularly hard-hit this year. The Sing Tao Daily – the country’s largest and longest-running Chinese language newspaper – closed, while other publications stopped their print editions.

Christopher Gogos, the publisher of the 63-year-old Greek newspaper, Neos Kosmos, is worried about the sustainability of the newspapers in the digital age.

“We’ve had similar problems to what all other publishers have had. We’re not immune to it. Having a more niche audience and community does help … [But] there is still so much uncertainty,” he said.

Mr Gogos said readership is booming, but this is largely thanks to the digital version of the newspaper.

“It’s encouraging that there are a lot of people reading us in the digital space, but like every other publisher in the world, it’s about monetising that … How do we get decent enough revenue to have paid journalists and to make it sustainable.”

Mr Gogos said multicultural newspapers like Neos Kosmos play a vital role in Australia.

“We don’t just exist for commercial reasons … What we provide, there’s a community need for it,” he said.

“It’s important that we have community discussions, it’s part of the public discourse, part of our debate, part of our democracy, it’s critical.”

Neos Kosmos’ publisher Christopher Gogos.

Neos Kosmos

He said Australia would be far worse off if multicultural newspapers closed.

“The problem I see, if there is no viability for multicultural media to exist, you’re going to have a vacuum and it’s going to be filled up with discussions on Facebook and other social media and the quality of our information will deteriorate,” he said.

“It will be really sad if that happens.”

Former Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane.

AAP

It is a point echoed by Tim Soutphommasane, Australia’s former race discrimination commissioner who is now the director of culture strategy at the University of Sydney.

“[These newspapers] are often invisible to Australians who don’t read them. But the reality is in multicultural Australian society, members of our community get their news from multiple sources, not only from English language sources,” Mr Soutphommasane said.

He said for new arrivals to Australia, these mastheads can “form an important bridge between one’s home county and one’s new country”.

“Mainstream Australian English language media just does not resemble what our multicultural society looks like in any meaningful form … We will lose diversity if we see these media outlets folding,” he said.

“The diversity not only of voices and faces, but also of the diversity of stories is going to suffer.”

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

The federal government’s coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone’s app store.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.

As newsrooms disappear, these ‘invisible’ multicultural newspapers are going strong – SBS News

As News Corp became the latest media company to announce major cuts this year, one part of Australia’s news landscape continues to prove surprisingly resilient.

The country’s multicultural newspapers are by no means immune to shocks in the industry but loyal readerships and niche advertising have kept them afloat.

Committed readerships

Multicultural newspapers in Australia date back more than 150 years and boomed in the post-WWII years as the country welcomed waves of migrants.

A selection of local multicultural newspapers.

Nick Baker

While many have come and gone, dozens are still operating, including the 125-year-old Australian Jewish News (AJN).

“[We service] a really strong community that is very connected,” David Redman, CEO of AJN publishers Polaris Media, told SBS News.

“It’s an advertising-driven model and we have a subscription base. That combination does help, but really, the paper’s survival is a testament to the loyalty of the community more than anything else.

“The readership is very committed to having a newspaper that is able to explore the world through their eyes and be able to give them an insight into what’s happening from their perspective.

“It always comes back to stories … What holds any community together is the stories they share, the things that they talk about.”

Publishing stories such as “My Ramadan in lockdown” and “Hospitality unconstrained through virtual iftars”, the Australasian Muslim Times (AMUST) has also weathered the recent storm of media disruption.

Editor-in-chief Zia Ahmad told SBS News the newspaper has “really flourished” since it relaunched in 2014 and that interest had increased during the pandemic.

“It has been well-received by the community,” Mr Ahmad told SBS News.

“We are not just regurgitating the TV and other newspapers. For example, there’s a murder. You’ll find that on every channel, everywhere. That same story.”

Mr Ahmad said AMUST also differentiates itself from mainstream media in other ways.

“The mainstream newspapers are talking about wars and rapes and muggings and negative news, with the understanding that negative news sells,” he said.

“We market our newspaper as a positive story newspaper … [With stories on] interfaith dialogue, people being brought together – you don’t see that in most newspapers.”

Mr Ahmad also credited the newspaper’s ongoing success with its embrace of digital platforms.

“You can’t just rely on print,” he said.

Steady advertising dollars

A key reason behind the resilience of these newspapers has been a stable advertising base that wants to target Australia’s migrant communities.

The 28 May issue of Italian language newspaper, La Fiamma, featured ads for Italian food distribution companies, Italian social clubs and in-language political advertisements for both Labor and Coalition MPs.

Dario Nelli, the editor of Sydney’s La Fiamma and its Melbourne counterpart Il Globo, said there had been consistent support from advertisers through the years.

“They want to market to the Italian community,” Mr Nelli said.

An insert from the 28 May issue of Italian language newspaper La Fiamma.

Nick Baker

“Small firms, even big firms, clubs, associations – they can see the role of the newspaper and they support us.

“When councils want to communicate something to the Italian community they go through us … And politicians know they can reach the whole community through us.”

During the pandemic, La Fiamma, Il Globo and other multicultural newspapers have also featured COVID-19 public service announcements, often in full-page format.

A COVIDSafe ad in La Fiamma.

Nick Baker

As a result, Mr Nelli said he was optimistic about the future of his newspapers.

“The day is far away when there won’t be a need for La Fiamma and Il Globo. I’m optimistic we can keep going for quite a while.”

‘So much uncertainty’

However, all the outlets SBS News spoke to were keenly aware of the challenges around the news landscape, especially during the pandemic.

The Chinese language press has been particularly hard-hit this year. The Sing Tao Daily – the country’s largest and longest-running Chinese language newspaper – closed, while other publications stopped their print editions.

Christopher Gogos, the publisher of the 63-year-old Greek newspaper, Neos Kosmos, is worried about the sustainability of the newspapers in the digital age.

“We’ve had similar problems to what all other publishers have had. We’re not immune to it. Having a more niche audience and community does help … [But] there is still so much uncertainty,” he said.

Mr Gogos said readership is booming, but this is largely thanks to the digital version of the newspaper.

“It’s encouraging that there are a lot of people reading us in the digital space, but like every other publisher in the world, it’s about monetising that … How do we get decent enough revenue to have paid journalists and to make it sustainable.”

Mr Gogos said multicultural newspapers like Neos Kosmos play a vital role in Australia.

“We don’t just exist for commercial reasons … What we provide, there’s a community need for it,” he said.

“It’s important that we have community discussions, it’s part of the public discourse, part of our debate, part of our democracy, it’s critical.”

Neos Kosmos’ publisher Christopher Gogos.

Neos Kosmos

He said Australia would be far worse off if multicultural newspapers closed.

“The problem I see, if there is no viability for multicultural media to exist, you’re going to have a vacuum and it’s going to be filled up with discussions on Facebook and other social media and the quality of our information will deteriorate,” he said.

“It will be really sad if that happens.”

Former Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane.

AAP

It is a point echoed by Tim Soutphommasane, Australia’s former race discrimination commissioner who is now the director of culture strategy at the University of Sydney.

“[These newspapers] are often invisible to Australians who don’t read them. But the reality is in multicultural Australian society, members of our community get their news from multiple sources, not only from English language sources,” Mr Soutphommasane said.

He said for new arrivals to Australia, these mastheads can “form an important bridge between one’s home county and one’s new country”.

“Mainstream Australian English language media just does not resemble what our multicultural society looks like in any meaningful form … We will lose diversity if we see these media outlets folding,” he said.

“The diversity not only of voices and faces, but also of the diversity of stories is going to suffer.”

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

The federal government’s coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone’s app store.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.

Sydney Film Festival and awards to go online for 2020 with slimmer program – NME.com

Following the lead of film festivals around the country, Sydney Film Festival has announced its 2020 event and awards show will be held online.

Back in mid-March, SFF was one of the first film festivals to announce its physical cancellation after public gatherings restrictions to stem the spread of coronavirus were instituted, pre-empting Melbourne International Film Festival. The original event was set to screen over 250 films at ten different venues,

Now, the 67th overall and first online edition of SFF will focus primarily on its awards program for Australian-made films, with 20 features and 13 short films in four strands. The emphasis on local films is designed to support the struggling industry through the pandemic.

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This year’s virtual event will see ten new feature-length Australian documentaries, including eight world-premiers, screen as part of Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Best Australian Documentary.

These include the third film in Jakeb Anhvu’s Vietnam trilogy, A Hundred Years of Happiness, a profile of the Multicultural Community Liaison Officer for the NSW Police Rosemary Kariuki, and Descent – a film about the world’s only professional ice free-divers who swim in freezing cold water without a wet suit, directed by Nays Baghai.

The Weather Diaries, directed by Kathy Drayton, is a six year study of her daughter Imogen as their relationship changes when she moves away from classical to pop music. Imogen now performs as a musician under the moniker Lupa J.

Elsewhere in the festival, ten finalists for the Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films will also screen, as well as three short films for Screenability – a category for screen practitioners with disability.

The films will be available to watch on the SFF Festival website on demand, from June 10-21. Tickets for the streamed festival are on sale now here.

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SFF will run a curated selection of 40 features and documentaries that have screened at the festival in recent years on SBS On Demand, including The Square, Certain Women, Frances Ha, Ali’s Wedding, Toni Erdmann and many more.

As previously announced, SFF will join forces with 20 major film festivals around the world for the We Are One: A Global Film Festival, to screen free over ten days on Youtube. SFF will contribute Mabo dir. Rachel Perkins and Mystery Road dir. Ivan Sen.

Last year’s SFF saw director Bong Joon Ho attend took home the festival’s $60,000 Sydney Film Prize for his now Best Picture Academy Award winning film Parasite. The festival also drew controversy with the Australian premiere of Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale. The screening sparked walkouts over its brutal depictions of rape and murder in colonial Australia. Moodley and Kent both defended the film to the ABC at the time, claiming only “20 and 30 people” walked out of each screening of 600 and 800 people respectively.

Journeying Through the Inner Life of a Music Teacher: A Eulogy for My Mother – Groundviews

Mary Maudwyn Hermine de Silva-Wijeyeratne, née Abayawickreme, LRAM, ARCM, FTCL, BMus (05-07-1937 – 20-04-2020)

My mother Hermine passed away in a London hospital on 20th April 2020. She was nearly 83, but I thought she had a few more years ahead of her. I want to honour the memory of Hermine and her post-colonial journey. She is mother to my older brother Shervon and myself, loving grandmother to Previn, great-grandmother to Raphael, and mother-in- law to Deepthi, Shervon’s wife. She was also a passionate lover of music and a respected music teacher of many decades.

Hermine was born in 1937 in the rather sleepy seaside town of Negombo, in the Crown Colony of Ceylon. Her parents, Charles and Nita Abayawickreme, were a public servant and teacher (English and Music) respectively – Charles an Anglican from Matara and Nita a Catholic from Negombo. An only child, Hermine grew up with an extended family, her first cousins Carmen, Cynthia, Milroy, Myrnie, and Maureen being at the centre of that wider family. All attended the Ave Maria Convent and were taught by nuns from Ireland. Outside the significant Catholic community of the Jaffna peninsula, Negombo was a key centre of Ceylonese Catholicism. But it was also a multicultural town with significant Burgher, Tamil, and Muslim communities. Hermine’s grandmother was bi-lingual and spoke fluent Tamil – as was often found among the Karava community of the west coast from Negombo to Chilaw at this period. How times have changed! I suspect Hermine herself would find the ethno-Sinhalisation of the Catholic belt of the island alien to her own more ecumenical upbringing.

Music was central to the family. Hermine’s grandfather David Peiris was a prominent baritone. Hermine started to learn piano from her mother at the age of five. She took Hermine up to grade 7, but by then her mother knew that Hermine needed to spread her wings. Charles, her father, heard the young British pianist and recent arrival to Ceylon, Janet Keuneman (sister-in-law to Pieter Keuneman) playing the piano on Radio Ceylon. He instinctively knew that this was the lady who should teach his daughter – and so it came to pass.

As a second instrument Hermine took up the cello and was taught by Louis Moreno, a Spanish émigré who had fled the Nationalist victory in the Spanish civil war. Moreno played in the legendary big band at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo that also included the clarinettist Reuben Solomon, a Sephardic Jewish refugee who had escaped the Japanese invasion of Burma – Reuben and his brother had escaped Rangoon with their instruments and a few possessions and fled over the Himalayan foothills into India, eventually making their way down to Colombo. Rueben married Charmaine (née Poulier), the famous writer on Sri Lankan cookery and Burgher cuisine.

In Colombo in the 1950s, Janet, Louis, and Reuben would regularly perform as a trio. And somewhat coincidentally, when Janet’s son, Gerald Keuneman (OAM), took up the cello as his first instrument in Melbourne in the early 60s he acquired Louis Mereno’s cello – what a small world! Both Moreno and Solomon would migrate to Australia in the late 50s and early 60s as part of the middle class exodus from Ceylon in the shadow of the Official Language Act 1956.

Most probably early exposure to these divergent strands of influence account for Hermine’s catholic musical tastes, of which more below. The engagement between Janet the teacher, and Hermine the student, led to Hermine studying piano at the Royal Academy of Music in London in the late 50s and early 60s. They enjoyed a close friendship that lasted many decades. To begin with, Hermine was one of three teenage girls (the other two being Daya and Glynis) to start piano lessons with Janet in the same year, 1950 – all three girls forged lifelong friendships. Daya continues to live in Colombo while Glynis passed away a few years ago. Janet, who had married Pieter Keuneman’s younger brother Arthur (a Crown Counsel) became a leading light in the small but influential classical music scene in post-war Ceylon. Janet trained Hermine in the classical repertoire with a focus on Beethoven, Brahms, and Chopin. While the German romantics would become Hermine’s first love (although she did not eschew Schoenberg’s own eschewing of tonality), she remained a devotee of Frederic Chopin’s elegant piano compositions. Janet passed away in Melbourne last year at the age of 98. When, in turn, I informed Janet’s son Gerald of Hermine’s passing, he texted wryly that soon the two of them will be able to play the piano again together – I am sure they are enjoying each other’s company again!

A few years prior to leaving for London on what was a three-week journey by ship, Hermine married Rienzi de Silva-Wijeyeratne, a lawyer from Colombo. They married in Negombo at St Mary’s, a church that dates back to the Portuguese period. Her first son, Shervon, was born in 1954, and four years later Hermine, dad, Nita, and Shervon embarked for London. Her father, Charles, had passed away in the early 1950s. Our grandmother, Nita, was designated child minder for Shervon. Hermine thus took her place as part of the second generation of post-colonial women from Ceylon to set sail to London for the completion of their education. The glamour of London was fully embraced by mum and dad.

The family settled in Paddington, which made for an easy journey to and from the Royal Academy in Marylebone. While Shervon started his schooling, dad set to work in the Patent Office on Chancery Lane. At the Royal Academy Hermine was influenced by Professors Guy Jonson and Harold Craxton – Jonson memorably told Hermine that she ought to remain under his tutelage so that he could fashion her into a concert pianist. Alas, mum, much younger than dad, was unable to convince him to remain in London for her to fulfil that potential – in this too, sharing the thwarted ambition of so many middle class women of her generation.

At the Royal Academy Hermine also carried on with the cello as her second instrument. Later, she would relate comical stories of young men volunteering to carry her cello on and off buses on the way back and forth from the Academy! This short, joyful sojourn in London did not prevent Hermine from achieving the highest grades at piano for someone enrolled in her programme of study.
With her studies completed, the family returned to Ceylon. They settled in Colombo and lived a relatively comfortable life during the 1960s, with Hermine building a stable of private piano students that included cousins and the children of notable politicians (of all stripes). Radio Ceylon’s English Language service offered Hermine a vehicle to perform her classical piano repertoire to a wider audience. Needless to say, her distinctive light touch shone through in her performances. But there was another side to Hermine’s musical passions.

While those who knew Hermine think of her accomplishments and love of classical music, not many people beyond her extended family will be aware of her predilection for American country and western music. We recall her stories of listening to Gene Autry and Roy Rogers on the radio in the 1940s. Not surprisingly Jim Reeves occupied a special place in her heart – but even fewer know that she struck up a correspondence with Mary Reeves, his widow. The story, as mum told it, was that she wrote to Chet Atkins in New York who then passed on her letter to Mary Reeves. This exchange of letters continued into the early 1970s. All in all, what is most memorable about the house in Colombo was the tumult of music of all sorts of genres being played. While country music complemented classical, Shervon was at this stage immersing himself in a small R & B combo that he and his friends had got going. Hermine would assist the boys master tricky chord progressions in the music they were covering. Deep Purple, The Who, and Hendrix were usually on the boys’ menu.

We suspect that the letters from Mary Reeves got lost as the next significant journey in Hermine’s life began. By the end of the 1960s she had an addition to the family, me. Owing to political instability in the early 1970s, as the island transitioned from Crown Dominion to Republic, mum and dad decided that leaving Ceylon was in the best interests of their children. Our grandmother Nita had passed away in 1972. Shervon was a teenager at this point and I was just four. Drawing on family friends, Hermine secured a teaching post in, of all places, Gibraltar, on the southern tip of Spain.

In Gibraltar Hermine taught music in two schools and dad worked in the Inland Revenue while Shervon also worked in the public service. I in turn started my schooling and, in order to adapt to the bi-lingual nature of Gibraltarian society, Hermine and Shervon set out to learn Spanish.

Dad however was not well. Indeed, he had been unwell for a considerable period of time before we left Ceylon in December 1973. In February 1975 he had a fatal heart attack. With Hermine widowed at a young age, she and Shervon decided that the family should relocate to London. By the end of 1975 the three of us were staying with dad’s sister in south London – Aunt Cleta’s family had also migrated to London in the early 70s. And so London would become Hermine’s final home.

When the family moved to West Hampstead in north London, Hermine returned to studying both music and literature for her ‘A’ levels, while Shervon started work and I began schooling in Kilburn. Then, moving back to south London in 1978, Hermine undertook paid employment – after a short spell in retail, she worked in the area of music copyright and eventually settled into a teaching career in 1980. She spent the next 23 years teaching music and piano in schools in south London. But it was teaching piano at home – which she began as soon as she acquired her Broadwood upright in 1979 – where she truly came into her own. Meticulous about detail, she pushed her students to perform to their full ability.

In the late 90s she undertook her Bachelor of Music at Kingston University, fulfilling an ambition dating back to 1960, and in 2003 she acquired her pride and joy, her Bluthner grand piano. 2003 also marked both the year of her retirement and the award of her degree in music. I played a minor role in her music degree. I had, thanks to my doctoral supervisor at the University of Kent, the late Professor Peter Fitzpatrick, introduced Hermine to Theodor Adorno’s essays on music – far from easy going! Undaunted, she proceeded to write an undergraduate dissertation on Adorno.

In the meantime, Shervon had married Deepthi in 1982, and I went to Brisbane in 2001. When Shervon and Deepthi’s son Previn was born in 1984 in London, Hermine happily took on the role of designated babysitter and piano teacher to her grandson. She maintained her close friendship with her piano teacher Janet in Australia and made frequent trips to Melbourne to visit Janet and her husband Arthur. Of course, Hermine had another reason for visiting Australia, to spend time with me in Brisbane. On one trip to Brisbane in 2010, Hermine’s friend Pam Adams (who worked with me at Griffith University) took her to Newstead House, an old colonial residence where a grand piano was on display. Encouraged by Pam, Hermine gave a short impromptu performance. Pam recalls her “abiding memory of Hermine … taking to the piano at Newstead House – without [sheet] music – and playing so beautifully. That lovely music rippled throughout the house.”

Retirement for Hermine did not mean the end of her teaching from home. On the contrary, she carried on teaching till pretty much the end, or at least until our public health emergency intervened this year. In 2010 Hermine was diagnosed with vascular disease and thus began a struggle against a health condition that would impact on her throughout her remaining years. No matter how much pain she was in, she sustained a determined streak that would not let her be bowed down by pain. Shervon returned from Sri Lanka to spend a significant period of time with Hermine and manage her care at home. I would regularly return from Brisbane to enjoy her company and offer support in the long university break every Christmas and New Year.

In 2014, in a period of good health, Hermine persuaded Deepthi and Shervon to visit Vienna where she fulfilled her desire to spend time at Beethoven’s Pasqualati House. The dream trip was capped by an evening at the Vienna Concert Hall.

Hermine was a woman of strong will – don’t her sons know it! Once she made up her mind there was no change of tack. Faced with adversity, her sense of self-will enabled her to confront that adversity with an extraordinary optimism. She was stoical in the face of daily discomfort and, even after her first minor stroke in October last year, she carried on teaching. Dr Karen Kee, her stroke consultant at Croydon General Hospital, recalls testing Hermine’s cognitive functions by taking her to play on the hospital upright. The video footage reveals a small crowd gathering to the sounds of Christmas carols and a few old classics like the Isle of Capri. Dr Kee added that Hermine was soon telling her off for getting her timing wrong as they attempted a duet! When Hermine was readmitted to the stroke unit at Croydon General in April, the entire staff showed such love as they took care of her in her last week.

It is fitting that almost the last words here should come from some of Hermine’s students, two of whom were about to restart their lessons once we came out of the coronavirus lockdown. When Naseem Crawford, who was about to start grade 7 with Hermine, heard that his teacher had passed away, he recalled how, “We would play the piano and laugh together, she was a special lady with special gifts and she will be dearly missed”. Linda Jimenez and her daughters, Natalia and Rebecca, both Hermine’s students, spoke of Hermine as “an extraordinary piano teacher and a person who had a witty and caring personality. Hermine inspired a passion in us to play the piano. She was also a great mentor as well as a teacher. May you rest in peace and we will never forget you.”

Well, mum, you will forever be in the hearts of your family and friends wherever they are, in London, Sri Lanka, Australia, and the United States. When the time is right Hermine’s ashes will be returned to her home town Negombo, where she will be laid to rest with her parents, Charles and Nita. Her parents would be extremely proud of the legacy their daughter leaves behind. And her sons, Deepthi, and our families, are immensely proud of the love and care this sparkling and elegant woman brought out in others. She was ‘old Ceylon’ embodied.

Dr Roshan de Silva-Wijeyeratne is a Member of the Advisory Board, Centre on Human Rights in Conflict, University of East London, and a Member of the Edinburgh Centre for Constitutional Law, University of Edinburgh. This eulogy was delivered at the South London Crematorium, Streatham, London SW16 5JG, on 19th May 2020

Macedonian Australian Welfare Association of Sydney to provide digital devices to help people stay connected | St George & Sutherland Shire Leader | St George, NSW – St George and Sutherland Shire Leader

Keeping connected: Macedonian Australian Welfare Association staff Roza Georgieva and Lihnida Bahcandzieva-Taseska. Picture Supplied

A $1 million grant announced by Good Things Foundation Australia will be used to provide digital loan devices through its Be Connected program.

The one-off payments of $2500 to $5000 will be made to existing Be Connected network partners to purchase digital devices and sim cards for clients.

Good Things Foundation Australia is a federal government-funded organisation, which is working to address the ‘digital divide’.

National director Jess Wilson said it was estimated 2.5 million Australians did not have access to the internet.

She said the coronavirus pandemic had exacerbated the feeling of isolation for many people, especially the aged and those from multicultural backgrounds.

“Access to the internet is absolutely essential during these incredibly isolating times, particularly for older Australians,” she said.

The Be Connected program is currently run by 3000 community groups across the country who provide digital literacy training for people over 50 to ensure they stay connected.

Prior to coronavirus restrictions, the network partners ran face-to-face workshops, which have now been moved online. But many clients do not have access to the digital devices they need to complete the work.

The Macedonian Australian Welfare Association of Sydney at Kogarah has been providing well-being and community support for Macedonian and former Yugoslavian communities for 37 years, including mentoring and coaching.

It will use its grant to purchase digital devices which it will then lend to clients over 50 who don’t have access to their own.

Clients will be taught how to use the devices to stay connected with family and friends, including those overseas, through phone calls and video messaging.

The devices can also be used for other purposes, including accessing traditional music or dancing, watching Macedonian cooking classes or finding recipes.

Macedonian Australian Welfare Association of Sydney chairperson Elena Zdraveska said: “Now more than ever, older people need support, as they are the most vulnerable and they have barriers and questions.

“We are here to provide answers, reassure and support them, and assist them to get connected in culturally appropriate ways,” she said.

Aussie Music Set To Shine As International Acts Remain Blocked Out – Pollstar

Michael Chugg

With tours by Aussie acts expecting to restart by last quarter of 2020 as part of Australia’s COVID-19 recovery, promoters are already negotiating with major and emerging names to get them back on the road.

A golden period for local music is forecast as domestic acts will be the only option for at least six months for starved crowds.

Their international counterparts are not expected here until June 2021 at least, with strict border rules for tourists expected to last until then.

“Many of the touring artists come from the countries most hit by the infection,” said Michael Chugg, head of Sydney-based Chugg Entertainment.

“Why would any international act want to come to Australia and spend two weeks in quarantine?”

TEG chief executive Geoff Jones does not expect to tour international names until late 2021.

The same Aussie-only strategy applies to music festivals, although it’s still unclear when they can return.

Falls Festival

But Secret Sounds fired the first shot for summer when it announced May 6 plans for a limited edition all-Australian lineup for Falls Festival in December/ January.

There was no detail on how “limited” the events would be and if plans are to cover the festival’s four sites at Byron Bay, Lorne outside Melbourne, Marion Bay in Tasmania and Fremantle in Western Australia.

The four dates draw an estimated 75,000 and Falls, like most Australian festivals, rely on international names to boost crowd numbers.

Last summer’s bill included, among others, Hasley, Weekend Vampire and Disclosure.

Secret Sounds’ Jessica Ducrou and Paul Piticco announced, “We have some of the most exciting acts in the world and this special ‘home grown’ edition of Falls will ensure that money stays in our local economy, providing maximum financial benefit for the Australian music community – artists, management, crew, agents, roadies, production etc – as well as the thousands of contractors and suppliers who rely on our events for their income.”

Falls will fund-raise for music biz charity Support Act, which since March was inundated with a record requests for financial and mental heath aid from out-of-work performers and workers.

.

Chugg is at this stage also considering all-Aussie bills for January’s alt-rock Laneway and March’s country & roots CMC Rocks.

The multi-city Laneway drew 75,000 in Australia with a further 5,000 in New Zealand.

CMC Rocks in Queensland drew 60,000 over three days. Cancelling the latter this year caused a loss of over $1 million (US$653, 979), Chugg previously said.
“There are so many unknowns at the moment. What are the guidelines going to say about camping?

“Music venues might initially not allow audiences standing up, how will that necessarily apply to festivals, if at all?”

Chugg’s take on local music is: “In much of the northern hemisphere, acts are going on hiatus until this thing blows over.

“In Australia, though, they’ve never been busier. There’s a boom, there’s more quality local music now than there’s been for quite a time.

“We’re in a honeymoon period, and Australian music is going to mean more than it has ever meant.”

Livestreaming concerts and festivals are notching up strong figures.

via FacebookCasey Barnes

Emerging country singer songwriter Casey Barnes, whom Chugg manages, drew 100,000 viewers to his album launch. A mid-week stream with his wife and baby, brought in 87,000.

Another client, Brisbane band Sheppard, set up a series of livestream events to set up their new single ‘Thank You’, an ode to mothers.

Each drew an average of 40,000. Helped by Mother’s Day (May 10), the track got radio airplay in 21 countries, and within four days stirred chart action in Asia and

Europe.

The increased appetite for Australian music is generated by the myriad of successful livestreaming festivals which have sprung up since late March’s close-

down.

Their mix of the established and the new makes them discovery models for captive audiences.

Isol-Aid, which stared out as a one-off to raise funds for Support Act, celebrated its eighth episode May 9 and 10.

While it has featured household names Missy Higgins, John Butler, Courtney Barnett and Josh Pyke, its work to put the spotlight on emerging acts is regarded

as impeccable by the biz.

Episode 8 saw lineups curated by innovative youth development program FReeZA, indie labels Daily Nightly and the USA’s Saddle Creek Records, while

The Area and City of Parramatta delivered a slice of multicultural West Sydney hip-hop to mainstream tastes.

Long-time band booker Emily Uhlman, co-founder of Isol-Aid, said mid-tier acts like singer songwriters Julia Jacklin and Stella Donnelly get up to 3,000 viewers.

“Each act name-tags the one after, so there is a continuity and discovery in the

show,” she noted.
Livestreaming, Uhlman added, makes fans consume music differently, and is important for music patrons who have issues with physical access, crowds and loud noises.

Isol-Aid

Delivered Live, a 10-episode festival on YouTube financed by the Victorian government to stream music to regional areas, had by its sixth episode raised $320,000, which was shared by 141 musicians, plus comedians, crew members, agents, managers, backline companies and venues.

On May 17, Delivered Live presents the Discharged Festival, with five-camera venue and studio performances from Tones And I, Missy Higgins, Pierce Brothers, The Jezabels, The Black Sorrows and Archie Roach, among others.

It partners with Victoria’s farming community with a “tour” of fresh food markets where local producers offer items for sale (and home delvery fees picked up by the government) and a chef offering meal ideas from these produces.

Kate Ceberano and Friends is based on the soul singer’s 1994 TV show and features six acts each week, charging a donation to raise money for Support Act.

Digital studio ED is launching At Yours, to help festivals, venues and artists sell tickets online and plans to continue the service post-pandemic.

Festival promoters agree the sector must show authorities it will ensure events safety before these are allowed back as early as possible.

One way is to make it compulsory for attendees to have had checks and downloaded the COVIDsafe app which allows authorities to warn users they were in close contact with a carrier.

In an open letter to the industry, Big Day Out founder Ken West suggested, “The best chance a major festival would have to get a green light would be as a test event.

“It might require everyone entering to be registered, COVID tested and have the app to see if it works on a large scale.

“Governments love tests and PM (Scott Morrison) openly wants everyone, especially cynical young people, to download the COVID app” and West goes on to state that “anything this side of 2020 will battle to get clearance,” which might “not a bad thing for now.”
“Pubs, clubs and theatres have been struggling for years from a glut of events and festivals,” he said.

“They employ a lot of people, cater for locals and desperately need support to stay in business. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt festivals to have a break from the market

as well.”

Live Nation Australasia chief executive Roger Field told the Sydney Morning Herald, “this is a time to be working together and helping the government to

determine a plan for our events to come back.

“We aren’t going to be able to do that without ensuring the safety, wellbeing and health of our audiences, staff and artists. That has to be the absolute focus.”

Australian Street Artist Behind 50-Cent Mash-ups Attacked Over Murals – Eurweb.com

*Actress LisaRaye McCoy recently weighed in on the Lil Kim/Nicki Mianj debate after Usher caught heat over his comments about the female hip-hop stars.

Usher sparked fury among the Barbz (Nicki’s fanbase) after he told Swizz Beatz that a Verzuz battle between Nicki and Kim wouldn’t work because the Brooklyn emcee paved the way for the “Queen” rapper. 

The R&B crooner described Minaj as a “product” of Lil Kim. 

And LisaRaye agrees.

During a recent appearance on Out Loud with Claudia Jordan, LisaRaye addressed Usher’s remarks, saying: “We can all stand together queens and we can all say that all of us are acknowledging the fact that Kim came before Nicki Minaj,” she said, per Hot New Hip Hop.  

“So Nicki, just take a seat. You don’t have to sit down for long, but just take a bow. Just like Beyoncé said, ‘Bow down b*tches,” LisaRaye added. 

As you can imagine, her comments were met with mixed reactions.

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*”The Player’s Club” star is also facing criticism from Turks And Caicos Islanders for comments she previously made on Jordan’s show, saying she “turned their island around” after marrying (her now ex) former Prime Minister Michael Misick.

As noted by MadameNoire, Claudia joked that she “upgraded the island,” to which LisaRaye replied, “damn right! Say it for the b—hes in the back!”

Adding, “I did more for that island than I did for my own country and my own business, my own self,” she said.

“I became the poster child for Turks and Caicos because Turks and Caicos was a jewel of an island, an elite island, that no one knew about until I said, hey, here we are over here! An hour away from the Bahamas! An hour and a half out of Miami! We’re right next to Haiti! It’s beautiful! The sun and the sand and the water, come see what I found over here! I did that and I started businesses over there. I started opportunity over there and I did nothing for here,” LisaRaye explained. 

After Claudia explained that she herself was harassed online over McCoy’s comments about the island, LisaRaye defended her remarks on Jordan’s show this week.

“Those people in your inbox were probably people who can’t even afford to go to Turks and Caicos, so next,” she said. “Secondly, that would be absolutely ludicrous for me to say Turks and Caicos wasn’t known, although it wasn’t known to me when I first met Michael. I didn’t know anything and didn’t even know how to pronounce it. But I stand by what I said.”

She went on to explain, “As their first lady, I brought a lot of attention to Turks and Caicos Island. But that’s what I planned to do and that’s what I wanted to do,” she continued. “I brought the film festival there. I built a theater there. I brought the first ever carnival there, music festival. Calling my friends saying, hey, we may not have it in the budget to pay your fee, but if I can make a vacation out of it for you because I’m the first lady of this small country, and I want to shed some light on here, can you bring your talent over here so you can entertain our people?”

LisaRaye added, “I still feel that is a second home for me, so I will always be the poster child for Turks and Caicos Islands because it’s beautiful and because I called it home and I do want everyone to see it and know about it because they should,” she added. “It’s right next door to us. So that’s what I said and that’s exactly, again, what I mean.”

Scroll up to hear/watch LisaRaye and Claudia dish about the controversy via the clip above. 

Woolworths worker and Sikh security guard go viral online with their bizarre TikTok dances – Daily Mail


The fresh moves people: Woolworths worker and Sikh security guard form an unlikely bond and go viral online with their bizarre TikTok dances

  • Dance duo Jorja Crisp and Gursher Singh Heer have become TikTok sensations  
  • The seven videos since April have gone viral racking up thousands of views each 
  • One shows, Miss Crisp dancing to a pop song, then Mr Heer to a Punjabi song 
  • Fans praised the friendship for demonstrating Australia’s multiculturalism 

A young Woolworths worker and Sikh security guard have formed an unlikely dance duo with their popular videos going viral online.

Jorja Crisp and Gursher Singh Heer have been sharing videos of their collaborative choreographed dances performed outside the supermarket chain on TikTok. 

A video posted on April 30, which has since racked up more than 59,000 views, shows Ms Crisp dancing solo to a pop song while Mr Heer stands next to her acting bored while gazing at his phone. 

The music suddenly changes to an Indian song and Mr Heer pushes Miss Crisp out of the way to take centre stage, as he performs a Punjabi dance.  

Jorja Crisp (right) and Gursher Singh Heer (left) have become TikTok sensations for their dance collaborations

The unlikely bond has warmed the hearts of fans, who praised the pair for sharing their friendship online .  

‘Great mix of culture that makes Australia a great country,’ one man wrote.

 Another added: ‘You guys prove that Australia is multicultural. Keep it up guys’.

‘I love this friendship you are developing. It’s really sweet,’ a third wrote.  

The partnership appears to have begun when Mr Heer photobombed a dance video Miss Crisp was making of herself, cheekily jumping in behind her to mimic her choreography. 

In a video posted this week, Mr Heer can be seen teaching Miss Crisp his moves, while the others show the duo dancing in sync to pop songs. 

The seven videos of the pair have all gone viral, each collecting thousands of views.    

Fans praised the team for displaying their mix of dancing styles, showing the diversity of Australian culture

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