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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rob Guest Tribute Concert

Working for the ANZ bank as their photographer has a certain level of variety attached to it. Sometimes I go into their offices to knock over a few corporate headshots. Sometimes I get to shoot their calendars - which was a whole bunch of fun. Sometimes its fashion shows, and sometimes its functions. Monday night was the Rob Guest Endowment concert. Rob Guest is a renowned figure in the Australian theatre whose recent untimely death was a shock to many of his peers and to the Australian public generally. 
I saw him play the part of Jean Val Jean in Les Miserables some years ago on the very same stage his Endowment concert was performed on Monday night. His version of Bring Him Home was simply beautiful to hear performed live. I doubt I will ever forget it. To think that only a few years later I would be photographing his tribute concert as a result of his sudden passing is a little sad. I never knew the man, but it is interesting how life takes you in circles sometimes.
ANZ Trustees sponsored this tribute event, which was supported by renowned Australian performers such as Bert Newton, Marina Prior, Rhonda Burchmore, Craig Mclachlan, Caroline O'Connor and Anthony Callea. The Australian String Quartet and cast members from Wicked and Chicago also performed. New Zealand theatre star, Tina Cross also performed with a recording of Rob Guest in a haunting rendition of Beauty and the Beast. My son, Nathan, and I were there to photograph it....and it was cool.
The Rob Guest Endowment managed by the ANZ has been established to nurture upcoming stars of the Australian stage. The night will see 6 young finalists perform to compete for the inaugural Rob Guest Endowment scholarship. The prize includes $1000 cash , flights and accommodation to New York, tickets to Broadway musicals and tuition with industry experts in New York and their own home town plus an ANZ Financial planning session.While each of the young performers was excellent, I agree wholeheartedly with the choice of winner, Danielle Matthews. Her final performance of "You're Gonna Love Me" from Dreamgirls was the clincher. It was moving, to say the least. She is such a great singer, so it was a difficult decision for me - raise the camera to capture her performance, or just stand and absorb. Well, in the end I did a little of both.
In all of this wonder, Nathan and I were able to move freely and photograph. Our task was to take publicity photographs during the cocktails prior to the performance, the performance itself and also publicity photographs afterward. The theatre was filled with people who had paid for the privilege while we, on the other hand, were being paid for it. Well, sometimes being a photographer is really, really cool. If you are reading this blog, I presume you know that already though, right?

Nathan and I were certainly tired by the end of our evening, returning home well after midnight to face a short night's sleep and another day. The McCafe Latte we picked up in Drive Thru on the way home was certainly welcome! But we both the evening very much and, more importantly, the opportunity to work with each other at such a prestigious event. I know that his introduction to this kind of photography was one that convinced him that this is a pretty cool job sometimes.
Mind you, he has probably known that for a while, living in my household and watching me work. But its different when you get to do it yourself. Suddenly it becomes personal, an experience you understand as a participant and not just a spectator. Thanks for your fabulous assistance and your highly professional photography, son! Your work from that night is excellent. I look forward to seeing what you write about this event on your blog. I imagine your take on it will be slightly different, and yet at the same time, somewhat the same...

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The Life, Times and Images of photographer, Shelton Muller

Images on this blog are copyright Shelton Muller