Writing, concerts, theatre and a little bit of travel

Sulari Gentill’s Rowland Sinclair Mysteries

Sulari Gentill is onto a good thing with her collection of Rowland Sinclair mysteries. This is the seventh in the series and I have read all but one. The stories are a little like Enid Blyton’s Famous Five for grown-ups. Rowland Sinclair and his friends have many adventures but they revive themselves with gin and tonic rather than cocoa. Rowland is the youngest son in a wealthy Sydney family – so he has the means to do all manner of things – in this case, participate in a car race in his yellow Mercedes on the dangerous Maroubra Speedway.

Maroubra speedway2.png

Maroubra Speedway 1


Rowland and his artistic friends are disapproved of by his older brother Wilfred – the head of the family. But the family is so well-heeled, it is a case of, What will Rowley be up to next? And Wilfred  telephones for a doctor or sends for a chauffeur to rescue Rowley from numerous tight-spots.

yellow mercedes


Each chapter references an article written about an event or phenomenon in 1930s Australia. The historical period is particularly well described and it’s for this that I enjoy reading the books as much as the detective aspect. Sulari Gentill has a special skill in depicting place and time. In this book, Rowland has almost too many scrapes – but the reader, along with Rowland and his friends, is kept on tenterhooks trying to solve a murder – along the way getting entangled with SP bookies and, in particular, the very right wing pro Nazi Eric Campbell and the New Guard.


Colonel Eric Campbell


Earlier this year I wrote about the enterprising work of Ensemble Franҫaix, a trio of Oboe (Emmanuel Cassimatis), Bassoon (Matthew Kneale) and Piano (Nicholas Young). They have now returned from a successful time at the Osaka Chamber Music Competition and on Friday 21st July were joined by guest artist Natalie Wong, harp to present a lunch-time concert at the South Melbourne Town Hall.

ensemble francaix in Osaka 1

That week, Emmanuel had a bike accident leaving the outward evidence of a black eye, but he must have been very much shaken by the experience – others might well pull out of a challenging concert in the same week. Apart from playing only one movement of the opening piece, the Poulenc trio, he played the program as though he were under no difficulties at all.

ensemble francaix at ANAM

One of the many commendable things about this group is that, although they are young and relatively new to the music scene, they commission works.  In this program we heard Silk Road, by local composer and brilliant pianist, Peter de Jager and a piece by Natalie Wong, I recount I construe. For both of these pieces the trio was joined by Wong on harp. I was entranced by the way de Jager combined harp and piano – a prepared piano giving an oriental flavour to the whole, which, for me, was a seamless melding of east and west. Natalie’s piece was at times lyrical and at times playful – to the extent of briefly having Emmanuel and Matthew play on just their double reeds.

mondrian chequerboard

The concert finished with Mondrian Interiors, by local composer Stuart Greenbaum, who was in the audience. The Ensemble was joined by clarinet and horn. Each of the eight movements depicts, or was inspired, by paintings of Mondrian that the composer saw at an exhibition in London in 1997. The piece was composed ten years later. The images were projected as each movement was played.

Mondrian church at Domburg

I look forward very much to further concerts by Ensemble Franҫaix. To support them in their commissioning of new works, go to their website:

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