This was a very exciting, dynamic and unusual concert, part of the Live at Lunch series at the Concourse, devised and presented by internationally renowned flautist Jane Rutter.
The performance opened dramatically with a very unconventional version of the traditional balled The Minstrel Boy featuring a new arrangement by Jane Rutter. Rutter, wearing a heavily brocaded kimono like outfit with a gold outer layer over pink and green floral underlay, was superb on flute with Blak Douglas equally good on didgeridoo.
Rutter then went on to talk about how she has a great sense of belonging to the land and country and its songlines and how the flute and the didgeridoo are two of the world’s instruments.
Above: Conductor Sam Allchurch. Featured Image: Members of the Sydney Chamber Choir- Photo Credit Nick Gilbert
The Sydney Chamber Choir has started its impressive 2017 season with a concert swathed in exciting emotional moments and exquisite restraint. Audience members who can attend all events in this season will cherish some special experiences of major works. The choir’s skilfully balanced programmes will also successfully juxtapose smaller works from many different time periods.
This was a thrilling concert in the beautiful , elegant Verbrugghen Hall at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
The Orchestra under maestro Eduardo Diazmunoz was magnificent. Diazmunoz’s conducting was precise, energetic, refined and mostly restrained, except in the case of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring during which he was jumping around,
After the introduction and welcoming speeches by the Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson AM ,the opening work was the delightful world premiere of Anne Boyd AM”sOlive Pink’s Garden which requires an absolutely HUGE orchestra,
Director of Music for the Balmain Sinfonia, Gary Stavrou was awarded an OAM in the 2017 Australia Day awards. The orchestra’s first concert illustrated yet again the calibre of his service to the Sydney music scene. The orchestra performed admirably under his baton in a diverse and artistically challenging programme which featured a broad historic swoop of music from Mozart to Mahler.
Exciting as always was the procuring of a local soloist of high standard to collaborate with Stavrou and the orchestra. This time, much awarded soprano Zoe Drummond demonstrated how effective the choice of a vocalist can be as a soloist in an orchestral concert. As in past concerts, the Balmain Sinfonia did rise to the occasion as a very sympathetic accompanist for the tonal colour of a vocal soloist.
Established in 2013 by Richard Gill AO, Rachael Beesley, Nicole Van Bruggen and Benjamin Bayl, the Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra (ARCO) has adopted a thematic approach to its repertoire. This was exemplified by its recent concert Italian Romance at the City Recital Hall which featured works by Beethoven, Hugo Woolf and Mendelssohn.
In the first half of the program the Orchestra was a smaller ensemble and stood. Beethoven’s CorialanusOverure was a particular choice as an example of Romantic Music. The work is not based on the Shakespeare play but on the equally gruesome story of a Roman General. The piece was played with precision and wonderful rhythm by the Orchestra. It was very much a ‘Sturm and Drang’ experience.
Beethoven’s Romance for Violin and OrchestraNo 2 featured Rachel Beesley as the soloist. Beesley played with tenderness and warmth, and created a wonderful dialogue with the woodwind section.
The next work which the Orchestra played was Beethoven’s 12Contradances for Orchestra. Most of the Contradances were just 32 bars in length and the Orchestra glided through each dance to create a seamless whole. The joyful music was however made more poignant with Gill reading out extracts from a letter which Beethoven wrote to his brother about his impending deafness.
The Orchestra’s performance of The Italian Serenade by Hugo Woolf featured a delightful conversation between the violin and cello.
The Orchestra reconvened after interval with a larger ensemble and delivered an impressive performance of Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony. The remarkable, glorious wall of sound that this Orchestra achieved was in spite of the fact that it was about half the size of a full Orchestra.
The success of this pleasing concert can also be attributed to the concert’s guest conductor Benjamin Bayl. His relaxed yet disciplined conducting brought out the best in the Orchestra.
ARCO performed its concert Italian Romance at the City Recital Hall, Angel Place on Saturday 25th March.
It was dry if cloudy at this invite only launch held in the undercover courtyard at the Riverside Theatres in Parramatta.
Ms Yarmila Alfonzetti, Chief Executive Officer of the Sydney Youth Orchestras, opened the proceedings, welcoming us and making a speech reminding us that it marks thirty years since the passing of Peter Seymour, the founder of the Sydney Youth Orchestra.
In her speech she spoke of how, ‘Music is about sharing, giving and connecting and that it is very exciting to be part of this launch and founding something new and inspiring which makes music further accessible to all.”
She also said big ‘thank yous ‘ to the founding partners of the Western Sydney Youth Orchestra including Fort St Capital and Dixon Advisory, as well as the Riverside.
Ms Amanda Chadwick, Administrator, City of Parramatta Council spoke next, mentioning the other VIPS attending and the recent release of Parramatta’s Cultural statement
.She discussed the cultural statement which was about how Parramatta Council is promoting growing and celebrating culture and enthusiastically welcomed the partnership between Sydney Youth Orchestra and Riverside. She spoke of how , ‘Talent comes from every suburb and we are looking at an exciting journey, breaking down barriers and creating new opportunities.”
David Borger, Western Sydney Director of the Sydney Business Chamber spoke next. He reminded us that the Orchestra has given many talented young musicians a chance to rise to the next level, and that it is a training ground for professionals. He said that the Sydney Business Chamber is trying to provide funding to break the tyranny of distance and allow for travel and expansion of cultural programs and events.
Steve Hawkins of Fort Street Advisers said that opportunities for advancement should not be defined by postcode. The launch of the Western Sydney SYO creates a platform for the next great wave of musicians who come from the area.
The final speaker was the Hon Stuart Ayres MP, Minister for Western Sydney who excitedly declared that this would be the start of a new chapter in the story of the Sydney Youth Orchestra .
The new Orchestra’s area covers from Penrith to Sutherland. He is hoping that the Western SYO will draw people from a wide geographical area, and said that this was all about providing high quality education and music for the area. Mr Ayers also referred to the upcoming national and international tours by the Sydney Youth Orchestra.
The launch concluded with a performance of Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov ’s Capriccio Espagnol, dynamically conducted by James Pensini and beautifully played by the Orchestra.
Guests then mingles, and further sampled the finger food and drinks on offer.
The first performance by the new Western Sydney Youth Orchestra will be this coming weekend Sunday 26 March at 2 pm
The Sydney Chamber Choir, conducted by Sam Allchurch with pianist Jem Harding, invites music lovers to attend its first performance for the year at the Great Hall, Sydney University in early April.
It will be a great opportunity to dive deep into the luscious music of the German Romantics, with this celebration of the rich beauty of choral voices: the delicacy of Schubert, the eloquence of Mendelssohn and the resonant harmonies of Brahms and Bruckner, culminating in Schoenberg’s passionate and powerful plea for Peace on Earth.
This was the age when music got personal, as composers shook off the old conventions of balance and restraint to seek out fresh ways to communicate feeling.
The Romantics, inspired by the magnificence of Nature, the unexplored paths of dreams and a deep awe of the divine, opened up choral music to unlimited horizons of both grandeur and intimacy.
SAVE THE DATE : –
Saturday April 8 at 7.30 pm at the Great Hall, Sydney University.
In early April, good friends and very talented musicians, violinist Lawrence Lee and pianist Siang Ching Ngu, will present a charity concert entitled TRANSFORMING LIVES THROUGH MUSIC during which they will play works by Brahms, Kreisler, Tchaikovsky, Falla, Sarasate and Piazzolla at the Concourse.
All proceeds from the recital will go to a very good cause, Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Australia; a not-for-profit organisation providing Clinical Musical Therapy and Community Music Programs.
Nordoff-Robbins runs numerous programs aimed at transforming people’s lives through music including musical therapy for special needs schools and aged care facilities, running music clubs for people with a disability, as well various training and education programs to spread the influence of music through the broader community.
CONCERT DETAILS :
The concert TRANSFORMING LIVES THROUGH MUSIC will take place onWednesday 5th of April, 7:30 pm at the Concourse Chatswood.
This is a joyous and colourful program, put together by Co-Artistic Directors David Rowden and Maria Raspopova, featuring an elegant work from Rachmaninoff and a serenade of Beethoven’s septet.
Beethoven’s Septet in E flat major was first performed as background music at an aristocratic tea-party in 1800. Filled with Mozart like charm and elegance, the piece has gone on to become one of the most popular septets ever written.
The Willoughby Symphony Orchestra and conductor Dr Nicholas Milton were off to a terrific start for 2017 with their concert entitled GENIUS, part of the year long program entitled ENDURING PASSION.
The concert featured works by Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Brahms with special guest artist, gifted violinist Lily Higson-Spence.
Overall the orchestra was in fine, glowing form with a delicious rich tone. Dr Milton conducted very energetically yet extremely precisely .
The concert rocketed off to a tense, dynamic start with Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No.3. In the form of a dramatic full scale single symphonic movement, the piece was eloquently played and featured an augmented horn section. The work featured surging, crashing, tempestuous strings with a flute soaring above and an inquisitive questioning woodwind, all leading up to an impressive, thrilling finale.
Guest artist Lily Higson-Spence, in a long flowing halter neck beige gown with a large bow at the back, dazzled playing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor Op.64.
The standard symphonic structure is used by Mendelssohn but slightly changed by the composer. It is regarded as one of the most lyrical and flowing works of its type and is one of the most frequently performed of all violin pieces. The work had its premiere in Leipzig on March 13, 1845.
For this work, Higson-Spence, Dr Milton and the Orchestra combined as one for a magnificent performance. It was mostly Higson-Spence ,however, leading the discussion between the three in collaborative harmony .
Higson-Spence’s bravura solos were mesmerising. Her violin had a pure tone, precisely controlled yet volcanic underneath. Sometimes the violin, singing its heart out, was lyrical and reflective, melancholic and passionate, at other times the violin darted about at a blistering pace.
Featured image: Conductor Sarah-Grace Williams and The Metropolitan Orchestra.
This concert of two very well known ‘Masterworks’ brought TMO back to the stage in fine form for its first ‘Met Series’ concert of 2017. A warm and appreciative audience eagerly awaited the chance to hear Sibelius’ Concerto in D Minor for Violin and Orchestra followed by no less than Brahms’ mighty Symphony No 1 in C minor Op 68.
Joining TMO as soloist for the second year in a row was Anna Da Silva Chen. Her powerhouse performance was fresh and commanding in nature. Da Silva Chen is constantly developing as an athletic and thoughtful virtuoso.
The first movement reached out to us with a clean and crisp approach. TMO, as led by Sarah-Grace Williams, made the most of all opportunities to enhance rhythmic complexities, melodic development and successive levels of dramatic mood.
There was thankfully no over-interpretation nor self-indulgent over-playing from this soloist. Bravura passages added throughout the first movement by Sibelius to showcase the violin as much as possible were rendered with prodigious depth of strength but avoided awkward heaviness.
A delicate song-like restraint and no-nonsense rendition of the concerto’s famous opening was a real highlight. This approach was not fussy and immediately drew us towards the soloist and to the qualities of the featured instrument Sibelius was able to promote.
Da Silva Chen’s respect for a stable melodic architecture alongside dazzling and fluid virtuosity continued into the second movement. Here, a beautiful pursuance of line and intricate collaboration with the orchestra made for some fine moments.
The energy and character needed from soloist and orchestra to bring this concerto to a close was on offer during the final movement. A lithe, elevated display from Da Silva Chen and a gutsy, well punctuated dealing with Sibelius’ challenges from TMO earned both a standing ovation.
Following interval, TMO’s version of Symphony No 1 in C minor Opus 68 was interpreted with clear and direct Brahms like Romanticism
Conductor Sarah Grace Williams preserved momentum throughout the sprawling movements and the composer’s wish to present deep emotion on a large scale but not let unnecessary sentiment compromise the security of structure and direction in music.
Effective choice of tempi especially enhanced the flow of the opening and final movements. The iconic timpani part known by fans of this work was well performed here. Conductor Sarah-Grace Williams kept the reaching nature of the Andante sostenuto second movement at a level of gentle poise as Brahms’ shifting patterns of tone colours moved smoothly about. The result was a hushed, hypnotic, forward moving bulk of calm.
A highlight of this symphony’s agile interpretation was the sunny pastoral interlude which the third movement embodies. Fine playing from the winds, especially the clarinet theme, transported us to a gentle and well-balanced place.
Challenging rhythmic complexities and Brahms’ manipulations of orchestral textures were well-handled in this interpretation and they also rocketed the work to an exciting conclusion. The flow of developing ideas and changing colours were presented with easy eloquence in the final movement as it had been previously.
The successful juxtaposition of two giant Romantic period works was a bold programming choice. It was one which definitely paid off, cementing TMO’s ‘tour de force’ status in the local music scene very early in this year’s musical calendar.
After a delicious afternoon tea we were treated to a magnificent concert by the Streeton Trio, part of the Prelude in Tea series of concerts held at the beautiful Independent Theatre.
The concert was given the umbrella title The Vienna Congress.
Before the concert began violinist Emma Jardine set the program in context, explaining the turbulent times of the period and the dominant influence of Napoleon Bonaparte. She advised that the program explored the complex musical situation in Vienna, the capital of European music at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
Two decades of great cultural ferment saw the Vienna Congress (1814/1815) as the turning point between the ideals of the Enlightenment and those of the Restoration. What took place was a radical change in the social role of music, which was no longer used as an instrument of awareness and knowledge, but instead became ‘the opium of the masses ‘ and proved useful in disguising the harsh reality of post-Napoleonic and post-Enlightenment society. Continue reading PRELUDE IN TEA : THE STREETON TRIO @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE→
In the lead up to Lent and Easter we are very privileged to have the Brandenburg’s glorious performances of Handel’s THE MESSIAH, enthusiastically led and directed by Paul Dyer with the magnificent Brandenburg Choir, four soloists and a striking, very unusual and effective staging by Constantine Cosi.
Handel’s Oratorio on the life of Christ is divided into four ‘scenes’ : Darkness to Light , The Dream , Shame and Mourning, and Ecstatic Light.
THE MESSIAH follows the story of Christ from birth to crucifixion and resurrection, but it also examines Israelite history, exploring the prophets who preceded the Messiah (especially Isaiah) and looks forward to the birth of the Church. There is no single dominant narrative voice and little use is made of quoted speech.
Above: Composer Ben Hoadley, whose Clarinet Quintet ‘Broken Songs’ was premiered in the concert. Featured Image : violinist Natsuko Yoshimoto.
The first Master Series concert for the Omega Ensemble this year was a standing-room-only event at the Sydney Opera House’s Utzon Room. ” The crowd was treated to exciting versions of masterpieces for string quartet and clarinet quintet, as well as the premiere of Ben Hoadley’s new clarinet quintet, Broken Songs. ” A capable backbone for all items on the programme was the assembled string quartet of Natsuko Yoshimoto, Ike See(violins),Neil Thompson(viola) and Paul Stender(cello)
In general across all works this quartet securely delivered playing of precision and sensible dramatic depth. We were given an introduction to newer works on the programme and rediscovered well-known ones. A scintillating blend of individual expression resulted from this quartet’s balanced playing. Continue reading OMEGA ENSEMBLE-HAYDN AND MOZART @ THE UTZON ROOM→
This was not your standard Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) concert, but as always it featured absolutely superb playing by the ACO who were in inspired form and dynamically led by the charismatic, bouncing, at times close to dancing guest violinist Pekka Kuusisto, who has taken the place of Richard Tognetti, who is currently in residence at the Barbican in London. (The ACO will play at the Barbican next month).
The concert was divided into two halves,as befits the concert’s title. There was a fascinating blend and contrast of blues grass folk songs sung and played on guitar and banjo by guest artist Sam Amidon, with a turbulent, passionate Janacek piece (his first string quartet, The Kreutzer Sonata, as well as a dazzling version of a John Adams work entitled, Shaker Loops (1947) .
In the first half, Murder, the turbulent , at times quite spiky Janacek piece was magnificently played by the ACO. The wprk was inspired by the Tolstoy novella of the same name. At one time there was a stormy argument between sections of the orchestra tensely, breathlessly played, and this was contrasted with more melancholic and reflective sections .
Amidon’s folk songs, played in both halves, appeared at first to be simple tunes but then proved to be more complex. In the first half, in the work Way Go Lily, there were rippling flowing rhythms. How Come That Blood featured a fluid, clip clop almost galloping rhythm – Amidon on banjo , the orchestra accompanying him, and there was an interesting use of pizzicato.
For the first half the songs were arranged by Nico Muhly. Amidon’s rough hewn, sincere vocal style gave his retelling of these folk songs a powerful punch. Amidon’s raw playing contrasted with the more refined tomes of the Australian Chamber Orchestra.
The Redemption set opening the second half was a selection of songs performed by Amidon and Kuusisto alone, in a delightfully intimate yet casual and relaxed manner. This contrasted with, and allowed some relief, from the darker subject matter of the program’s first half.
Kuusisto treated his violin more like a folk fiddler, and occasionally joined his voice to Amidon’s in a delightful performance that also included a showy violin solo.
This half also featured an acapella like, haunting and powerful version of Brackett’s Simple Gifts, (the most famous hymn of the Shaker sect) as sung by Amidon.
John Adams work Shaker Loops was rich and multi layered and featured an aching ‘centre’. At times, the piece evoked the ‘music of the spheres’, shimmering and delicate, at other the playing was strident, with bubbling violins and cellos rumbling underneath.
This was a dazzling concert with a running time of two hours and ten minutes.
The Australian Chamber Orchestra’s toured the concert MURDER AND REDEMPTION nationally between the 2nd and 14th February.
The Australian Chamber Orchestra in Murder and Redemption was on national tour February 2 -14
Over the years Sydney Arts Guide has keenly followed the progress of this eclectic group. Next Sunday, The Marais Project begins its 2017 season with the concertIT TAKES TWO : A VIOL SPECTACULAR, the first of three very diverse events in its 18th year of fine, distinctive musicianship.
Since its founding by Jennifer Eriksson in 2000, The Marais Project has released 5 CDs, three of which have been selected as “CD of the Week” on ABC Classic FM. A 6th CD will appear in 2017. The group regularly features in national and local studio broadcasts and radio interviews. They have performed across Eastern Australia and as guest artists in New Zealand.
The Sydney Baroque Music Festival’s fourth venture will take place at the beautiful Glebe Town Hall. The festival is an entirely student-driven initiative bringing together young musicians from all over Australia who share a passion for early music. The musicians will be working intensively through the week of January 16-20th, to present the concert NOBLE YOUTH.
This was the Australian Haydn Ensemble’s (AHE) final concert for the year. The concert focused on the ‘Sturm and Drang’ movement of the 18th century, this concert was a treat in every way. The Sturm and Drang movement was characterised by drama and passion with sudden shifts of dynamics and rhythm. The four works presented in these concerts delivered these in spades.
You can tell it’s Christmas with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra (ABO) are performing this year’s version of Noel!Noel! their marvellous Christmas concert which is also touring to different cities and venues. Several performances have already sold out.
The atmosphere was as if we were transported to Europe and whisked to a huge Tudor mansion. At others it was as if we were in a huge cathedral.
With the magnificent Brandenburg choir and stunning guest soloist delightful soprano Madison Nonoa from New Zealand, this was a terrific concert.
Join the Australian Youth Orchestra as they showcase the raw energy and exceptional talents of the next generation of Australia’s classical musicians. Brought together from around the country and under the deft baton of accomplished English conductor Andrew Gourlay, hear as these talented young players bring a popular selection of orchestral works to life.
Experience a diverse repertoire of classics from Rachmaninov’s triumphant Piano Concerto No.2 to Elgar’s beautifully moving Cello Concerto, performed with masterful skill of internationally renowned guest artist and cellist, Li-Wei Qin.
This very special concert takes place in the Australian Youth Orchestra’s 60th anniversary year.
Thursday 16th February 2017, 7pm at the Sydney Town Hall.
The Sydney Chamber Choir launched its 2017 season at an inner city function. Founded in 1975, the Choir has forged a reputation as one of Australia’s leading choral ensembles.
Highly regarded for its interpretation of Renaissance and Baroque works, it is also a champion of contemporary Australian choral music, having commissioned and premiered scores of works by many established and emerging Australian composers.
In 2017 the Choir will be singing music by Hildegard von Bingen, Monteverdi, Buxtehude, Purcell, Bach, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Bruckner, Schoenberg, Britten and others. Cantatas, opera, lyric scenes and chant will be heard resounding throughout the Great Hall at the University of Sydney, a perfect venue for this remarkable ensemble of musicians to display their talents.
As is the Sydney Chamber Choir’s tradition most of the soloists will come from the Choir. However Richard Butler will sing the role of St Nicolas in the eponymous Britten cantata. The N.S.W Public Schools senior singers, under the direction of Elizabeth Scott, will join Richard Butler and the Choir in this work.
Featured pic – Lorenza Borrani. Pic by Edwina Pickles.
Under the excellent direction of guest director and violinist Lorenza Borrani, who clearly had a great rapport with the Orchestra, we were treated to a superb performance by the ACO.
The SCHNITTKE Sonata for violin and chamber orchestra was a striking, most unusual work in four movements that made us sit up and prick our ears.
The opening was questioning, sharp, spiky and emphatic. The second Allegretto movement was dance-like in atmosphere. The orchestral ensemble was very focused and driven. There was a use of pizzicatto. Sometimes the music felt like the whirling and turning of the spheres. The third movement was emphatic with ominous deep double bass. Borrani was amazing in her solos, fiery and hypnotic yet tender and liquid as well.
The latest and last in this year’s series of Live at Lunch concerts was based on the idea of the spirit world /the occult and the magic of nocturnal love . Hence the title THE VAMPIRE DIARIES which Jane Rutter also announced had allusions to the very popular Harry Potter series.
Rutter was extremely Gothicky-elegant in a glittering black out fit with a cloak around her shoulders and a white scarf cravat around her neck. Guest artist Simon Tedeschi was stylish in a smartly cut dark suit.