• Ambassador of Indonesia Nadjib Riphat Kusoema and his wife Nina Nadjib Riphat

    Ambassador of Indonesia Nadjib Riphat Kusoema and his wife Nina Nadjib Riphat

  • Jeff Hart, Brandon Hammer and Matthew Peek

    Jeff Hart, Brandon Hammer and Matthew Peek

  • Colombian born tenor Carlos Bacenas and pianist Phoebe Briggs

    Colombian born tenor Carlos Bacenas and pianist Phoebe Briggs

  • Alvaro Ayala, Ambassdor of Colombia Clemencia Forero-Ucros, Managing Director of Victoria  Opera and Artistic Director, Richard Mills

    Alvaro Ayala, Ambassdor of Colombia Clemencia Forero-Ucros, Managing Director of Victoria Opera and Artistic Director, Richard Mills

  • Attila Ovare and his mum Luisa Pava

    Attila Ovare and his mum Luisa Pava

  • Edgar Ferero Castelanos, Andrea Garcia and Benjamin Speziale

    Edgar Ferero Castelanos, Andrea Garcia and Benjamin Speziale

  • Daniel Reategui and Luisa Restrepo

    Daniel Reategui and Luisa Restrepo

  • Sarah Marinkovic, Linda Peek and Leonor Pinzon

    Sarah Marinkovic, Linda Peek and Leonor Pinzon

  • Lenise Barbosa, Maria Cacho, pia Waldron, Margaret Reid and Gladys Tenorio

    Lenise Barbosa, Maria Cacho, pia Waldron, Margaret Reid and Gladys Tenorio

  • Amanda Pirotta, Terrence and Debbie Dwyer and Joseph Pirotta

    Amanda Pirotta, Terrence and Debbie Dwyer and Joseph Pirotta

  • Paul and Catherine Falk with Paloma and James Boucher

    Paul and Catherine Falk with Paloma and James Boucher

  • Ambassador of Peru Luis Quesada

    Ambassador of Peru Luis Quesada

  • Anne Baly, Paola Lasso-Corredor, Edward Sellars and Carlos Moran Leon

    Anne Baly, Paola Lasso-Corredor, Edward Sellars and Carlos Moran Leon

  • Ambassador of Mexico Armando Alvarez Rein, Ambassador of Chile Daniel Carvallo and Ambassador of Spain Manuel Cacho

    Ambassador of Mexico Armando Alvarez Rein, Ambassador of Chile Daniel Carvallo and Ambassador of Spain Manuel Cacho

  • Ambassador of Uruguay Ricardo Varela and his wife Maria Varela

    Ambassador of Uruguay Ricardo Varela and his wife Maria Varela

  • Carlos Moran Leon meets the indefatigable Barbara Blackman

    Carlos Moran Leon meets the indefatigable Barbara Blackman

  • Alvaro Ayala, Ambassador of Colombia Clemencia Forero-Ucros and Penelope Wensley

    Alvaro Ayala, Ambassador of Colombia Clemencia Forero-Ucros and Penelope Wensley

  • Lina Silva and Maria Teresa Mendoza

    Lina Silva and Maria Teresa Mendoza

  • Ambassador of Ecuador Raul Gangotena and Andrea Garcia

    Ambassador of Ecuador Raul Gangotena and Andrea Garcia

Colombia's National Day Concert

29 July 2015

Colombian National Day often brings an arts aspect to the celebration and this year was no exception when Colombian tenor Carlos Barcenas performed in the church at the Wesley Music Centre accompanied by Phoebe Briggs.

Currently studying for his Masters of Music at Melbourne University he has been a member of the Victorian Opera Chorus since 2008 and it was with Victorian Opera support that he performed in Canberra to the delight of Ambassador of Colombia Clemencia Forero-Ucros. Familiar international arias and a charming mix of Colombian, Mexican and an all time favourite Neopolitan song ‘O sole mio’ filled the church with Barcenas’ impressive voice.

Joining the guests was Managing Director of Victorian Opera Andrew Snell and Artistic Director Richard Mills. Mills saying his percussion concerto is to be included in the next CSO concert in Canberra, which might require a return visit. Other guests included a supporting cast of many diplomatic representatives and enjoying herself the indefatigable Barbara Blackman. We chatted. I told her of the debate at the National Press Club on ‘Marriage Equality’ between Penny Wong and Cory Bernardi. Her summation; “I’ve never known a marriage that was equal”.

I’m still laughing about that.

Then to the main event and for the second year we had what in diplomatic circles is called a ‘dry toast’. Toasting each to the other is a national day ritual where one of our DFAT protocol officers performs for us with the mandatory glass of an appropriate tipple, with the compliment returned by the host. Each toast is followed by the national anthem, theirs and ours, where not surprisingly things can and do go wrong when technology is required. Now dry toasts have nothing to do with bread but everything to do with convenience, and we’d had a few tipples already in the foyer so not having a glass of something may have made for that odd moment when you should be raising a glass and didn’t know what to do, but the voice of Barcenas singing the anthems was a joy to our ears with not a hint of technological mastery required.