The Beauty of Art

The famous verse in Ecclesiastes that Pete Seeger used as his inspiration for the song Turn! Turn! Turn! is so timeless. It reminds us of the balanced, cyclical nature of life and says that there is a proper time for everything. Right now, in all Catholic schools, it is the season of the arts. The Performing Arts Festival for Catholic Schools and Colleges is always a highlight for me, especially since I am so stunted in artistic ability. Over the past few weeks, I have experienced music, song, drama, sculpture, paintings using all manner of medium and witnessed with awe the talent that exists in young people.

This quote encapsulates what the arts do for me:

"Stone is lifeless and cold, uninviting and inhuman. At least it is until it is transformed by the skill of an artist such as Auguste Rodin. Have a good look at his sculpture The Kiss. See how human it is, how it immortalises such a delicate and fleeting moment of human experience. Look at the muscle in the man's arm; he is strong. Yet see the tenderness in his touch against her hip. Look at the slight curl in her toes as she delights in his touch. Yet this is just stone. Or is it? Great art is communication, between the artist and the viewer, and it is transformative. It teaches us about ourselves and about the human condition, and it gives life to previously dead things. Those are all very beautiful things."

Last night I was present at the College's Music Performance evening. It was amazing as always. A father and son duet on bass and electric guitar, singers whose voices were like nectar, and solo performances of voice, brass, piano and strings – just beautiful.

I finished the evening by sharing a few of my thoughts. As it was the day of Charlie Watts' death, I did choke up a bit. As the seminal figures in your upbringing pass, it makes you realise that the moment the bell tolls for thee moves a little closer. But rather than focus on the morose, the greater realisation is the impact and legacy of those seminal figures. My life, and yours I'm sure, is signposted with the arts and moments of music, song, film, and all other artistic mediums. And upon hearing a song, watching a film or seeing a painting, that moment and those memories come flooding back. 

shutterstock_264163799.jpgOne of my political heroes once said, "Our DNA is wired for music. What the great composers know is how to play with us. Music opens a vista into our soul. I always thought the arts were central to a country, central to a society, holding up a mirror to itself. Music brings you back to beauty, sublime things. With that beauty and the sublime, everything else gets into a better point of calibration... where everything is better: how important, less important, most important. Everything is better."

My recent personal battles with my health are well documented. There are mornings where I can barely get out of bed. But a little riff from Lou Reed's Sweet Jane and I'm in the shower air guitaring and off I go. Music can have the effect of a drug, without the nefarious side issues. If I need calming then it's the Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana, if I need inspiration it's Nessun Dorma from Turandot, if I need exhilaration, it's the prologue from Crunchy Granola Suite.

The arts is a vital cog in the wheel of any school; it is an essential cog in the CBC Fremantle wheel. It is for this reason we have appointed Mr Shane Mancuso to the position of Director of Music from next year. Ms Carmen Stewart, who joins us with an amazing repertoire of experience and skills, will be the new Head of the Arts. Together with a committed, talented and invested staff and a brand-new Arts precinct, I am confident the arts at CBC Fremantle will not only continue to shine and bring joy to all who experience it as a performer and audience member, but will flourish and move to an even higher level of excellence and involvement from our boys.

Mr Domenic Burgio