Archive for March, 2018

Passing of Prof Stephen Hawking

So he is gone. A legend in his own Time. I read his most famous book in the 1980s while a registrar in Paediatrics. I subsequently read a lot about Time, as it is a major theme in Thomas Mann’s novel ‘The Magic Mountain’ that I have set to music. Two songs in the musical relate to time. One of them is called ‘A Brief History of Time’. I takes Hawking’s discoveries and juxtaposes them with the opening of Josef Haydn’s Creation: ‘In the beginning…….’. This recitative elides into a Waltz of the Spheres that celebrates an ‘ever-expanding universe’. To meet the challenge of representing the multifarious and confusing themes that Mann piles on to his ‘hero’, Hans Castorp, I combine this soaring theme with the trivial Partytime Polka (a rock song in disguise) that the hedonistic, fatalistic chorus sings (“E=MC2 – as if anybody really cared”).

Have a look at the score here:

A Brief History of Time extracted from Lyrics and Libretto

And here is an excerpt of the music: “Haydn” recitative first, followed by the waltz.

17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health – Cape Town March 2018: Look after Little Lungs

I was privileged to attend part of this conference. As I wrote on World Tobacco Day in 2017, I have taken on a task of reducing children’s exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. ‘Look after little lungs’ is the mantra. I have subsequently partnered with South Africa’s National Council Against Smoking to take this further. We have produced a book that children can use to learn about lung health and the effects of passive smoking in order to become advocates for their own health. I presented this idea at the conference. I wrote an article for publication during the conference. It was published in the Cape Times a few days after the event, but it keeps the conversation going. It is certainly a conversation I intend to keep going in South Africa until all children and pregnant women are protected from the scourge of tobacco.

Here is a link to the article.

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