It seems of late that the lines between different styles of music have been blurred somewhat, particularly in popular music. Hybrid is the buzzword, and it sells. Metal is crossing into rap, bands are trying to break out of the mould they've created - anything to make an impact, to sound different. There are several forms of hybrid music that have gained popular acceptance over the past few years - but really, there can't be a place for opera in there, can there?

Yes, yes there can be. This week, polyserena, the debut full length album by Brisbane band george is sitting at the top of Australian album charts, in its first week of release. And siblings Katie and Tyrone Noonan, classically trained since the age of four, are the driving reason behind this success. While their sound is a far way off the traditional image, and sound of opera, it's definitely an influence in the quality of their sound.

george formed in Brisbane in 1996, to enter a University band competition. Their talent was immediately obvious, evidenced by winning the competition. Since then, they've formed a loyal following, through word of mouth and independent radio play. Several EP's and singles later, they have finally released a full length album, and people can't get enough of them. Their sound is an eclectic mix of rock, jazz and pop - sometimes incredibly fragile and beautiful, at others, they rock out just as hard as any other band.

Vocal duties are split between the Katie and Tyrone, both possessing incredible voices, and an individual style. Tyrone has a voice reminiscent of Jeff Buckley at times - I've heard this bought up as a point of criticism, critics assuming that he's attempting to imitate. With a voice like his though, why would you try to imitate anyone? Katie's voice is simply breathtaking. She has perfect control over her sound, going from the softest, barely there vocals, to amazing power and strength with seeming ease. This incredible ability gives george's songs a wonderful dynamic that must be heard to be believed.

Backing up the vocal ability of the Noonan's is a talented band, who manage to display their impressive ability, while not overpowering the vocal focus. When not singing, either Katie or Tyrone will be playing keyboards - another thing they both excel at. In the end, each individual part of george the band, weaves together to produce something magical, and like nothing I've ever heard before. Live, they're spectacular. It's obvious that they have been playing to live crowds for a long time, their performance is flawless. george have served a long apprenticeship on the road, and been rewarded with success, and a large fan base across the country. It's no surprise that their album has hit number one in its first week of release really - george fans have been anticipating its release for years. In the end, it's been well worth the wait. And from here, things can only get better.

Band Members:

  • Tyrone Noonan (vocals, keyboard, acoustic guitar)
  • Katie Noonan (vocals, keyboard)
  • Geoff Green (drums, percussion)
  • Paulie Bromley (bass)
  • Nick Stewart (electric/acoustic guitar)

Discography:

The great commoner

The name George is of Greek origin and means tiller of the earth or farmer. It is therefore a common name in two ways: Many people bear it, and it has a most humble meaning - as contrasted by names like Earl or Roy, for instance. Yet the name has belonged both to ordinary people and to extraordinary ones - kings and farmers, rebels and presidents, saints and rock stars.

The ancient name has spread alongside Christianity, where it seems to have a special status. First, it is the name of a powerful saint, Saint George who killed the dragon. There are other saints named George, but their legends are less colourful. Now this George's story is not just evil anti-dragon propaganda, for in reality it was the Devil that he fought and conquered. As a hero of the people, the saint became widely popular in medieval Europe, and his battle has been depicted in uncountable innumerable paintings and sculptures. Needless to say, generations of Christians were inspired to name their children after him - and after each other. In this way, the name became tradition.

The second important aspect within Christianity is that the name symbolises humility. One who is a farmer provides food for others. He lives close to earth doing honest work. He therefore has a better chance of salvation than the haughty and ambitious. For, as we all know, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter Heaven.

The original Greek name is constructed from Ge, which means earth, and ergon, meaning work. The name Γεωργιος (Georgios) is still in use in modern Greek. While the name was pronounced with a hard G (as in goat) in ancient times, the current Greek pronunciation is something like Ye-or-yios. Cue chaos, confusion, and mutation. While other names of an even more ancient and foreign origin may have changed more, George has done a pretty good job while spreading through the world.

Let's follow the hard-g strain first. Since it is oldest, it stands to reason it should be the least common - people love changing their languages now and then. George is still used with a hard G in Romania, with Gheorghe; in Russia and Bulgaria, with Georgi; and in Germany, with Georg.

The newer y-sound is more popular. As previously mentioned, it is the current form in Greece. It is also found in Russia, with Yuri, in Ukraine, with Yurko, and in the Czech Republic, as Jirka and Jiri. In Sweden, the name Göran is also pronounced with a y sound. The Germans (and related languages) have a number of variations; Jörg and Jörgen, Jürg and Jürgen, probably because of the saint's huge popularity in that country.

And finally, the weird ones. G, often accompanied by J, has undergone a strange evolution in many of the European alphabets. And along with the letters, the name George has changed as well. Some of them start with a d sound: Djordje in Serbian, György in Hungarian, Jerzy in Polish, Giorgio in Italian, and our own George in English. Some begin with a variation upon a voiced fricative: French Georges, and Dutch Gurge or Jurge*. The Spanish have gone one step further - the consonants in Jorge are usually pronounced like H. Finally, there is Varghese in the Indian language of Malayalam, which is a nice, if big, change from the norm.

Some famous Georges include King George I, II, III, IV, V and VI of England, and King George I and II of Greece. Also George Berkeley, George Best, George Bush and son, George Carlin George Harrison, George Eliot (pen name) George Foreman, George Lucas, George Michael, George Orwell (pen name), George Santayana, George Washington, and many others.

The feminine form of Georgios is Georgia. Hoewever, this word means agriculture and is used for a former Soviet country and a fertile American state rather than for baby girls. Georgina, Georgiana or Georgette are the most likely choices if a girl is to be named after a George.

St George's day is on April 23rd, and everyone named George or something similar may celebrate their name day then.

* I think. I haven't been able to verify the pronunciation of Jurge/Gurge, so any Dutch people, feel free to correct me.

George (?), n. [F. George, or Georges, a proper name, fr. Gr. husbandman, laborer; , , the earth + to work; akin to E. work. See Work.]

1.

A figure of St. George (the patron saint of England) on horseback, appended to the collar of the Order of the Garter. See Garter.

2.

A kind of brown loaf.

[Obs.]

Dryden.

 

© Webster 1913.

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