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Camerata sent Connor D’Netto ahead of their trip to the Maranoa region in 2016 to gain inspiration and ideas, and his trip was meant to include a visit to the famous Charleville Cosmos Centre, and a daytime “joy flight” among other things.
In the end, the weather forced a cancellation of these activities. A call out on social media for other ideas, led to Camerata supporter, Toni Baker indicating that her aunt Joan Houghten was still living in the area after many decades and that Connor should visit her. At 94 years-old, smoking like a chimney, sharp as a tack and driving to do her own groceries, Joan was full of life and stories, including those of how she of met her husband while playing piano at parties after the war. She allowed Connor to look about her home which was a step back in time. Joan was still playing piano daily (at the time she was learning a new tune – Michael Jackson’s “Ben”).
None of this is tangibly present in Air & Fantasy, but the music is evocative of the western Queensland landscape and atmosphere, particularly that of Charleville where Camerata gave the official world premiere performance at the Charleville Racecourse.
Connor writes: “For someone who had spent his whole life living in South-East Queensland, there was something that immediately struck me when I landed in the South-West corner: It’s flat. So flat. The roads go on forever, straight out to the horizon.
Plains of grass and bush sprung from the red earth – unending, spotted with wire-like trees. The breeze filters through everything; distant winds blow down the high-street. There’s a stillness out there, cut by the wind. But, the sky moves with the wind. Within a moment, grey becomes blue, thick cover clears; the depth of the night sky is unlike anything you see in the cities. And then it’s gone again.”
Connor D’Netto on Air & Fantasy (2016)