Classical Music


Above: Dr Erin Helyard conducted from the  harpsichord and was soloist in C.P.E Bach’s Keyboard Concerto in C major. Featured image: Skye MacIntosh, Artistic Director of Australian Haydn Ensemble.

This final concert from Australian Haydn Ensemble (AHE) in its 2017 season was a dramatic delight featuring fine works from the later eighteenth century orchestral repertoire.

Anthony Albrecht’s quality programme notes featured a quote from Haydn about his creative seclusion in the Esterhazy court where he ‘had to become original’.

All works from the composers in this programme were meaty examples of how musical masters pioneered the conveying of mood and feeling in musical environments. The relevant affectations shone in the hands of AHE in its full orchestral mode. Especially enjoyable were two works in the programme’s centre from the individual, radical and emotionally outspoken C.P.E Bach. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN HAYDN ENSEMBLE: C.P.E BACH, MOZART AND HAYDN @ CITY RECITAL HALL


This image: Elysian Fields – featuring electric viola da gamba
Banner image: Viola da gambist Jenny Eriksson

Early music specialists, The Marais Project, and electric viola da gamba ensemble, Elysian Fields, both led by the versatile Jenny Eriksson, return to The Independent Theatre on January 28, 2018 in a once off program titled, “My heart so grieves”Continue reading MY HEART SO GRIEVES: PART OF ‘PRELUDE IN TEA’


Image above: ACO will begin 2018 with Missy Mazzoli’s world premiere work Dark with Excessive Bright.
Banner image: Australian Chamber Orchestra (photo: Nic Walker)

The Australian Chamber Orchestra are renowned the world over for their adventurous and distinctive programming, that sees re-imagined interpretations of celebrated classics stacked alongside performances of ambitious new commissions.  They begin 2018 with Three Soloists, Two Premieres and a Collaboration with the Australian National Academy of Music. Continue reading ACO OPENS 2018 WITH TOGNETTI, TCHAIKOVSKY & BRAHMS


All images: Ranui Young

FIVE ELEMENTS concert . (Enigma Quartet and Riley Lee)

The Shakuhachi is a Japanese flute whose sound embodies ancient Japan .  The world then was thought to comprise of five elements ( earth fire water air and ether ) melding into a divinity of nature its plants and animals.

The Enigma Quartet comprises four adventurous and accomplished female musicians. There’s no surprise that they fell in love with the Shakuhachi and one of it’s foremost exponents, Riley Lee, an expatriate American musician now permanently living in Australia.

It was a great concert .  The shakuhachi is both hypnotic and spiritually soothing. Listening to it you sense  the stillness of a falling leaf  .. mists descending through mountainous ravines… a small bird  capturing it’s prey in full flight…the sudden swiftness of death. Nature is sacred and ephemeral and primordial and the sound of shakuhachi is an embodiment of it. Continue reading ENIGMA QUARTET: A DIALOGUE BETWEEN EAST AND WEST


Above : Guitarist Giuseppe Zangari plays Rodrigo’s  ‘Concerto De Aranjuez’ with TMO. Featured image : conductor Sarah-Grace Williams leads TMO during the final concert for 2017. Photo credit : John B C Images. 

‘New Beginnings’ was TMO’s final Met Concert in this year’s series, and the  last performance for 2017. It communicated with signature energy and freshness across a diverse programme. The concert began with a world premiere then forged an expressive path back through time, covering a guitar concerto before finishing with Beethoven’s mighty Symphony No 3 {‘Eroica’). Continue reading THE METROPOLITAN ORCHESTRA: MET CONCERT 5 @ PETERSHAM TOWN HALL


Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra

The Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra announced Richard Gill Presents: A Voyage of Musical Discovery.

A series of Sydney concerts this series leads music lovers and students through music from the past and present in collaboration with renowned Australian contemporary, jazz and baroque ensembles.

Three brilliant and inspiring events at the City Recital Hall bring the world of music to life before the audience’s eyes,
taking an in-depth look at the most recent contemporary Australian music along with repertoire from the 18th and 19th centuries.



Banner Image: Thelma Plum, Solid Ground artist-in-residence for 2018. Image: Cole Benetts

Carriageworks today announced 1.2 million visitors will engage with the Carriageworks Program in 2017 whilst unveiling a dynamic program for 2018 spanning contemporary art, dance, performance, music, screen, food and ideas. In 2018 the Artistic Program will support 690 artists and will present 70 projects, including 10 world premieres, 17 international works and 17 new Australian commissions.

Highlights include three large-scale, site-specific exhibitions by international contemporary artists Katharina Grosse (Germany), Ryoji Ikeda (Japan) and Nick Cave (USA), as well as three world premiere works by Carriageworks Resident Companies: Sydney Chamber Opera, Marrugeku and Force Majeure, and the presentation of leading cultural events including the 21st Biennale of Sydney, the 2018 Sydney Writers’ Festival and Sydney Contemporary 2018.

In 2018 Carriageworks will continue to be home to eight artists in supported studios in the Clothing Store in partnership with UrbanGrowth NSW. From January Carriageworks will introduce 10 new food events, including masterclasses, live cooking demonstrations and continue The Night Market series presenting Australia’s very best chef’s and producers.

Carriageworks Director Lisa Havilah said: “We are excited to be bringing an extraordinary Program of international works, new commissions and large scale works to Sydney. ”  Continue reading CARRIAGEWORKS: 2018 PROGRAM AND 1.2 MILLION VISITORS IN 2017


Sydney Philharmonia Choirs in action.
Photos by Keith Saunders.

Sydney Philharmonia Choirs has this morning announced its 2018 Season comprising seven stunning productions, from the cornerstones of classical music to the best of Australian and international contemporary, and a centenary production of Bernstein’s Broadway hit, Candide.

At the heart of the program are three of the great 18th Century choral masterworks, which showcase the drive and ambition behind Australia’s leading choral performance company. These tour-de-force presentations bring their exemplary choristers together with leading Australian soloists and instrumentalists, on Sydney’s premier concert stages, conducted by Brett Weymark.

Composed over the course of 16 years at the pinnacle of his career, JS Bach’s Mass in B Minor is recognised as one of his greatest choral works. Weaving moments of overwhelming majesty with intimate solo arias, the Mass has been likened to a “cathedral in sound”, conveying every aspect of the genius that gives his music its timeless power.

For this epic production, presented on the Concert Hall stage at Sydney Opera House on Easter Saturday, the Choirs are joined by some of Australia’s most accomplished early music specialists, with the magnificent sound of the Sydney Philharmonia Orchestra.

Joseph Haydn’s visionary masterpiece The Creation depicts the creation of the universe in music of sublime imagination and power, resplendent with classical optimism, grace and grandeur. Released simultaneously in both English and German in 1798, it was an overnight success and has remained a much-anticipated highlight of choral seasons ever since. Performed in the ornate splendour of Sydney Town Hall, The Creation brings the Choirs together with leading soloists led by award-winning soprano Taryn Fiebig, and for the first time, The Metropolitan Orchestra.

One of Handel’s most grand and gripping dramas, and the first of his great oratorios, Saul is a powerful exploration of love, loyalty and power, inspired by the relationship between Saul, first king of the Israelites, and his successor, David. Adapted from the Old Testament Book of Samuel, this is music of rare beauty and intensity, showcasing Handel’s instinct for vivid characterisation and profound psychological insights.

For Sydney Philharmonia Choirs Music Director, Brett Weymark, the highlight of the coming year’s program is the company’s production of Candide, presented in celebration of the centenary of one of the 20th Century’s most acclaimed and influential composers, Leonard Bernstein. Directed by Australian theatre powerhouse Mitchell Butel, with a stellar cast including Alexander Lewis in the title role, Bernstein’s Candide takes audiences on a wickedly tuneful romp through Voltaire’s classic, from its rollicking overture, through affectionate parodies of opera, Gilbert and Sullivan, tango and Broadway glitz. Candide is presented in collaboration with the acclaimed Pacific Opera and Sydney Youth Orchestra and conducted by Brett Weymark.

Presented for the first time in Sydney, Joby Talbot’s acclaimed contemporary masterpiece, Path of Miracles follows the great pilgrim trail of Camino de Santiago, drawing on the words of English poet Robert Dickinson to take audiences on an acapella journey to the edge of the known world. Composed for the virtuosic British choir, Tenebrae, the work premiered in London in July 2005, in the weeks following the city’s bombing, and became a healing balm for a shattered Sydney.

In 2018, Sydney Philharmonia’s young adult choir, VOX, renowned for their stunning acapella performances, will present one major production, reflecting their focus on modern music and a preference for short compositions that go together to form a whole program, over the longer form classics. Voyage of Voices is a collaboration with Estonia’s acclaimed E Stuudio Youth Choir, whose dynamic brand of contemporary acapella has already seen them perform at Carnegie Hall. This stunning international showcase sees each of the two choirs present contemporary works from their homelands. The VOX program be will conducted by Elizabeth Scott, E Stuudio by Külli Lokko.

It’s a Sydney Philharmonia Choirs tradition to end the year with a Christmas extravaganza, and this year is no exception with Carols at the House. It’s impossible to resist the magic of Christmas as the 500 voices of the combined Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and Orchestra and special guests including acclaimed Australian opera star Teddy Tahu Rhodes light up the stage with your favourite Christmas carols, seasonal treats from stage and screen, and much more. This is a uniquely elegant Christmas celebration, on a symphonic scale, with a few surprises in the form of story-telling, sublime silliness and, of course, audience participation. Conductor Brett Weymark .

For more information about Sydney Philharmonia Choirs’ 2018 Season visit:


“I look forward to sharing another year of passion-fueled performances with you” says TMO Artistic Director and Chief Conductor Sarah-Grace Williams.

 The Metropolitan Orchestra have officially launched their 2018 concert season in conjunction with a brand new website designed to make it easier for busy people to navigate concerts and book tickets using mobile devices.

Their tenth concert season includes five performances, with two world premieres as part of their highly acclaimed Met Concert series, along with their much loved Cushion Concert series which includes both Babies Proms and Family Concerts along with a new chamber series featuring the Eight Cellists of TMO and the Winds of TMO. Continue reading THE METROPOLITAN ORCHESTRA LAUNCH THEIR 2018 SEASON

C.P.E.Bach, Mozart & Haydn @ City Recital Hall

Featured image – Dr Erin Helyard, guest Director for the Australian Haydn Ensemble’s final concert for the year.

“Helyard and the Australian Haydn Ensemble (AHE) established an engaged dialogic framework, creating telling conversational moments of utterance and response.” Sydney Morning Herald

Over the past five years, AHE have formed a wonderful collaborative relationship with regular guest Dr Erin Helyard. For our finale in 2017, Helyard returns to direct a dazzling symphonic program and perform as soloist in C.P.E. Bach’s Keyboard Concerto in C major.

Described by Mozart as ‘the father of us all’, C.P.E. Bach was one of the greatest innovators of the 18th century.

This program features a good dose of dramatic Sturm und Drang, with Haydn’s Symphony No. 52 in C minor – written whilst Haydn was at the Esterhazy Palace in 1771. This underestimated symphony was described by the famous American musicologist and Haydn specialist Robbins Landon, as “the grandfather of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.” Continue reading C.P.E.Bach, Mozart & Haydn @ City Recital Hall

Live at Lunch – Ravel and Faure

Live at Lunch

To round off the 2017 series of Live at Lunch concerts we were treated to a most elegant and inspiring concert, with a majorly French feel , featuring artistic director Jane Rutter the renowned flautist and the tremendous Acacia Quartet led by Lisa Stewart. Founded in 2010, Acacia Quartet has quickly won great respect for their versatile and inventive programs which often couple established repertoire with the unorthodox. In 2013 Acacia was nominated for both an ARIA Award and an APRA-AMCOS Art Music Award.

The Acacia members were in orchestral black while Rutter was dramatic in a red and black outfit.

First up we heard an enchanting version of the lush, lyrical and seductive Pavane by Faure ( arr George Pikler) with Rutter on her favourite golden flute . A pavane is a Renaissance dance that’s generally described as a formal processional walk accompanied by a stately melody. The performance was full of elegant floating grace .
The main section of the concert was devoted to Ravel’s String Quartet in F Major in four movements as performed by the Acacia Quartet.

Ravel dedicated his work to Faure and it leans towards neo-Classicism . It was written in 1903 when he was 28. The quartet played magnificently , intently and with a great sense of being a unified whole .The first movement was passionate and questioning , volcanically ebbing and flowing. Rippling sections were contrasted with sharp spiky ones and it had a soft shimmering finish (note the use of pizzicato too.)

The second movement dashed off to a boisterous exuberant start and included dizzying scurrying violins. A passionate lamenting segment was contrasted with a stinging one. The third movement was fluid and intense and the final movement was fast and emphatic, full of dynamic intensity and was bubbling and flowing in parts. The finale is challenging because of its constantly shifting tonal changes and the Quartet handled this brilliantly.

Pessard’s Andalouse and Bolero followed taking us to Spain (the Andalouse , elegant and courtly with dominating swirling , bubbling flute ) and then the vibrant Bolero a bit more French ( no , NOT Ravel’s) with its darting shimmering flute and bubbling strings.
Before the final piece the Mayor of Willoughby Gail Giles Gidney was introduced and Rutter announced the most exciting season of seven concerts for 2018 .

The concert concluded with the heartfelt, delicate and flowing Pavane pour Une Infante Defunte by Ravel (1899). It is a meditation on grief and loss and a way of life that has disappeared. As we left for lunch we could buy CDs and brochures for the 2018 season were handed out – the box office was extremely busy!

Live at Lunch RAVEL STRING QUARTET, RAVEL & FAURÉ DEUX PAVANNES was at the Concourse for one performance only 15 November 2017 .  For more information visit:



‘My Grandfather always said, ‘Music is the language of the heart’. Mark Vincent.

Mark Vincent showed how well he speaks this language by giving a memorable concert last Thursday night at the State Theatre. The performance was part of his National Tour to promote his new album, A TRIBUTE TO MARIO LANZA.

Vincent performed songs from the album, as well as a few other classics, backed by an excellent twenty piece orchestra conducted by much loved conductor Guy Noble.

Vincent took brief breaks in both halves of the concert at which time New Zealand soprano Jennifer Little came on stage to perform a few songs. They went on to combine together for the first encore, ‘Brindisi’.

A large video screen was set up behind the orchestra which was used intermittently during the performance. At the start of the concert, by way of introduction, Lanza’s daughter spoke about how pleased she was that a singer of Mark’s stature was celebrating her father’s work.   Continue reading MARK VINCENT LIVE @ THE STATE THEATRE


NSW Youth Orchestra members turn up early and excited for their first rehearsal with Fabian Russell

New South Wales Youth Orchestra  is pleased to present Stravinsky’s PETRUSHKA  (1911), led by their Principal Guest Conductor, Fabian Russell.

The orchestra will also be joined Australian International Soloist, Michael Kieran Harvey to perform  SHOSTAKOVICH PIANO CONCERTO NO 2.

The program:
Glinka | Ruslan and Ludmilla Overture
Shostakovich | Piano Concerto No. 2
Stravinsky | Petrushka (1911 Version)

Saturday 2 December 2017 at 7:30pm at Verbrugghen Hall Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Conservatorium Rd, Sydney, NSW 200

For more about NSW Youth Orchestra Russian Masterpieces, visit
Or Facebook where NSWYO,  over the coming weeks,  will be posting some interesting facts about the great composers whose music will be performed at the  upcoming concert!


This was a jaw dropping, absolutely breath taking concert by the Willoughby Symphony. The program, under the umbrella title of TRIUMPH, consisted of two works, Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with a most astonishing and impressive performance by special guest artist Kristian Chong and after interval Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony.

The Orchestra was in marvellous form with a rich, extremely balanced, golden tone as energetically, enthusiastically and precisely led by Dr Nicholas Milton. There was also another special reason to celebrate as it is John Cran, the renowned bassoonist’s 90th birthday this week.

First we heard a dazzling, captivating, fiery and tumultuous performance of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 ( readers might remember it from the movie Shine) with spellbinding soloist Kristian Chong who gave a stunning performance aristocratically sculpted. It is an iconic, mammoth work often regarded as the pinnacle of Romantic pianism. Chong and the orchestra treated it with due reverence.

Rachmaninov’s work consists of three large movements. The opening melody has relatively little orchestral accompaniment. (It is perhaps reminiscent of some chants of the Russian Orthodox Church.) There are also hints throughout the work of the composer’s Rhapsody On A Theme of Paganini and perhaps Stravinsky influences.

The well-known opening melody was played by Chong with a languid legato, conveying outward confidence blended with a dark undertone of anticipation. In the first movement Chong’s playing of the cadenza was wild and hair-raising while the second movement was more rhapsodic and melancholic .Chong’s playing in the lyrical or melodic sections was enchanting and luminous contrasting with his fiery passionate volcanic eruptions at other times.

Milton was highly attentive to Chong’s playing and the delicate shaping around it and in the gradual builds toward climaxes he revealed himself as a master of phrasing, pacing and layering sounds. In the second movement there were sharp spiky sections, an intriguing use of pizzicato, haunting woodwind and at various points throughout the work there were swirling, turbulent segments. Sparks flew. There was tumultuous prolonged applause and screams of ‘Bravo’ for Chong.

After interval we heard a passionate, turbulent rendition of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony ( 1877/1878) ‘a haunting journey of tragic reality, passing dreams, visions of happiness, from the deepest trenches of human despair to the glorious triumph of the human spirit.

The work is permeated with unprecedented indications of the composer’s personal emotions, the intensity of which escalate gradually through each movement.It reflects his turbulent personal life at the time and is dedicated to his patroness Nadezhda von Meck .It opened with emphatic brass ( quite Swan Lake -ish) – the ‘fate’ leitmotif. followed by anxious strings and swooping woodwind.

The second movement opened with a poignant heart twisting oboe solo with the strings quietly murmuring underneath. Sometimes the orchestra in this movement was slow and stately like a flowing river, at other points it was anxious and pulsating , sometimes dance like .

Crash! The third movement featured scurrying strings, who then later sounded quite melancholy and then were strident, the horns, and the entire orchestra going full throttle tempestuously. There were hints of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture too and an interesting use of surging pizzicato.

The final movement, incorporating a famous Russian folk song, was fast, joyous and surged towards the agitated, breathless conclusion.

There was thunderous applause and numerous curtain calls. A TRIUMPH indeed.

Running time 2 hours including interval

Willoughby Symphony in Triumph played the Concourse on the 28th  and 29th October 2017



BITTERSWEET OBSESSIONS, marking the 450th anniversary of Monteverdi’s birth. as presented by the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, is structured around three works by two of the most iconic of baroque composers and includes Bach’s famous comic coffee cantata.

Monteverdi | Lamento della Ninfa.
A beautiful, moving story of loss and mourning, the nymph, angrily and with broken heart, sings the story of her traitorous lover.
Monteverdi | Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda.
A story of love, tragedy and mistaken identity.
J.S. BACH | Coffee Cantata.

A rollicking satire about the coffee-drinking antics of this lusciously-jolly, caffeine-crazed woman.

Soprano Natasha Wilson ties these three worlds together in a dramatic, staged performance with the Brandenburg. Through the concert we discover the heartbreak, passion and comic revelry within a repressive world.

Joining Natasha on stage are tenors Karim Sulayman from the USA and Australian Spencer Darby, as well as Danish bass Jakob Bloch Jespersen.

Paul Dyer has reunited the Australian creative team with whom he collaborated on the Brandenburg’s acclaimed and first-ever staging of Handel’s Messiah in February 2017, NIDA graduates director Constantine Costi, set designer Charlotte Mungomery and costume designer Genevieve Graham.

The creative team is completed by the leading Australian lighting designer, John Rayment, who in 2018 will be lighting the Commonwealth Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies on the Gold Coast, as well as Opera Australia’s new production of Aida.

It is most impressively ‘partially staged ‘ and musically and vocally is superb. The performance is in three parts or ‘scenes’ and follows a woman’s journey through the sweet and bitter of life, through pleasure and pain, and opens with Monteverdi’s Nymph’s Lament, a tale of spurned love from his eight book of madrigals.

The concert is set in a cornfield with observing shepherds who act as a sort of Greek chorus.  Natasha Wilson plays the nymph in white drifting around rather Ophelia – like and lamenting her traitorous lost love in ravishing arias.

The highlight of the first half and one of the major highlights of the performance was the striking, dramatic staging of Monteverdi’s Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda (The Battle of Tancredi and Clorinda) first performed in Venice in 1624 and based on a story of the First Crusade by Torquato Tasso which explores the fused themes of love and war through the story of the tragically star-crossed lovers.

The front cloth is lifted to reveal large metal staircase scaffolding which Jakob Bloch Jespersen and Wilson clamber up and down. For most of the performance Wilson and Jespersen are up on the top layer of the scaffolding and blindfolded. The dominant colour is red and a red banner is unfurled at one point. Karim Sulayman as the narrator below was passionate and intense describing the various events of the battle, the anger, exhaustion and eventual despair and parting.

This work is also notable for its inclusion of  Aikido– a modern Japanese martial art as the intricate, tightly choreographed battle is excitingly performed by Melanie Lindenthal and Andrew Sunter. ( work features one of the earliest known uses of pizzicato in Baroque music and also pioneered the use of tremolo and the ‘agitated style ‘ to convey tension.

Wilson as Clorinda is superb her dying arias piercingly, soaringly exquisite. Jakob Bloch Jespersen ( from Denmark) as the noble warrior Tancredi was magnificent , commanding and vibrant in the battle , horror struck and grief stricken at the end .

The Bach Brandenburg Concerto No 4 BWV 1049 (first movement only) was given a sprightly, elegant and filigreed performance. The Orchestra had a warm luscious tone.The Baroque flutes /recorders ( Melissa Farrow and Mikaela Oberg) bubbled and darted in a delightful, enchanting performance that left us wanting more.The other interludes included in both halves of the program were also delightful.

“Don’t get between a girl and her coffee “ – the bulk of the second half consisted of J.S Bach’s Coffee Cantata, BWV 211 which was given a sparkling performance. A delicious satire, with bewitching music, this is classified as a cantata ( a vocal composition with instrumental accompaniment intended for concert performance) yet it is rather like a mini opera with three characters. Bach himself was a caffeine addict.

The set was reworked during interval to become a coffee shop and there were huge bags of coffee beans scattered around. There was also the use of mobile phones, Liesshen takes quite few selfies. Karim Sulayman here acts as the overworked barista/narrator.

Jakob Bloch Jespersen (Mr Schlendrian, Lieschen’s harassed father) is here dressed in casually expensive jeans t shirt and jacket and is growing weary of constantly forking out money for all the coffee that his daughter drinks. Lieschen is portrayed by Natasha Wilson as spoilt and self centred. She wears a red dress, fishnet stockings ankle boots and a large striped faux fur coat. The love of her life is COFFEE to which she is extremely addicted to. She must have it, drink it, be gifted it.

To her, coffee is more delicious than a thousand kisses. More pleasing than wine. Wilson’s arias to coffee are sultry and sensational. But her father declares she must give up coffee and marry. Leischen eventually agrees, thinking that her husband to be will pay for all her coffee. It ends with a wonderful tightly choreographed trio for the barista, Lieschen and her father drinking , stirring and raising their cups – to the joys of COFFEE.

Another cappuccino please ..

Running time just under 2 hours including interval

The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra’s BITTERSWEET OBSESSION is playing the City Recital Hall until the 1st November and Melbourne until 5 November 2017.

For more about Australian Brandenburg Orchestra : Bittersweet Obsessions, visit

Ravel Impressions

Image of Maria Raspopova by David Vagg

Co-Artistic Directors David Rowden and Maria Raspopova

“…supremely talented instrumentalists…versatility and musicianship.” Limelight Magazine

A playful program of intriguing works, dedications and intricate shadings of trios and quartets.

When Mozart composed his Kegelstatt Trio in 1786, he may have been playing a game of Kegels — a popular leisure activity in Germany and all the rage in Vienna at the time. It was a form of lawn bowling, in which players rolled a wooden ball down a path to knock over wooden objects we would call bowling pins. A landmark work of inspiring music, it was the first to use the combination of piano, viola and clarinet in a chamber setting. Alongside this work is Ravel’s iconic and much adored String Quartet No. 1, dedicated to his teacher, Fauré, whose own trio was composed in the latter years of his life and displays a graceful lyricism alongside his unmistakable personal musical language.

Omega presents a delicate and intriguing program, exploring the intricate shadings of these works in a playful and delightful performance.

Thursday November 16 @ 7.30pm

For more about Ravel Impressions, visit
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The packed audience was swooning with delight at the latest Live at Lunch concert at the Concourse entitled LOVE SONGS AND LULLABIES.

The concert featured Artistic Director Jane Rutter on flute, Vincent Colagiuri on piano and opera superstar Teddy Tahu Rhodes who performed a delicious selection of classic love songs and lullabies from Broadway including works by Elgar, Rogers & Hammerstein, Schumann, Fauré, Cole Porter, Lerner & Loewe and more!

Colagiuri and Tahu Rhodes both looked debonair in magnificently cut suits whilst Rutter was elegant in white and silver.

The program opened with the bright, seductive Non Piu Andrai from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. Continue reading LIVE AT LUNCH : LOVE SONGS AND LULLABIES @ THE CONCOURSE


Performance 1

Overture to the Magic Flute (E flat Major)

In  this very fine arrangement we were rewarded with Mozart at his mature, very best. The Opera could have been his last work and in this condensation into a short overture is sensational. As always Mozart’s sensitivity with the use of melody which he considered the essence of music was palpable throughout the performance as was the warmth, tenderness and deep emotion. Being a Viennese classicist firmly between Haydn and Beethoven the work showed Mozart’s fertile imagination and ample power where appropriate.

The Ensemble exhibited lightness and delicacy from the slow, mysterious introduction, through a variety of delightful melodies, all so direct and clear in that small  hard space, was  thoroughly enjoyable experience, a rare treat for the Sydney audience.

Performance 2

Piano Concerto No 5, ‘The Emperor’ (E flat Major)

Well named (for other reasons), this work is The Emperor of piano concerto for all time.

A breathtaking performance of power, melody and relentless energy, yet very soft and playful, teasing the mind and senses with repeated delicious skin sensations. Famous Conductors and Orchestras have given us a variety of good versions of this majestic work but never before was it arranged as it was for this performance in the Utzon Room.

In this room with it’s hard surfaces, softened acoustically only by the audience, the arrangement and the energetic performance by the musicians was simply stunning ! I am not about to duplicate some of the in depth volumes written by others, nor can I add much assessing the work, but with the use of a beautiful ‘in period piano’ all participating members the ensemble deserve much credit for the execution of this work with so much energy and sensitivity and unquestionable skill.

A slight negative in this small space – at times, the dominance of the piano, although well interwoven with the strings and flute seemed excessive. The impression was that the strings, and in particular the double bass has to work hard and did to maintain a balance. But that’s only a personal observation.

The other observation at the time was that as the Beethoven Concerto No 5 being so dominant during this presentation, in this place, the Utzon Room, exhausted and satisfied on its conclusion it seemed and felt as the finale to the event, and was time to go home. Many may not share this view, although some of the musicians did and think that the program sequence as listed would have been better and made Mozart’s ‘Prague’  more relevant and enjoyable.

Performance 3

Symphony No 38 ‘Prague’ in D Major

We all know Mozart was a gifted child and in adulthood a musical genius.

Symphony No 38 in part of Mozarts famous Trilogy of 1788 and was written at a time of his most productive period. It is long, gentle, yet provides us with a powerful expression of conscious happiness which at other times has eluded him. This work with its emphasis on expression may be due to Mozart’s break with music solely for entertainment and a break with convention to express more of his personality and mature creativity for its own sake, and stretching it to the limit.

Again, a very fine arrangement and excellent execution by the ensemble members with a fine balance of interplay throughout the performance.

An interesting work requiring more than usual concentration for full appreciation.

Recommendation; Revisiting this work again for sheer listening pleasure – without a competing Beethoven masterpiece.

Michael Bures ASTC RAIA



Concert Program

Neilsen : Wind Quintet, Op 43

Hindemith  Kleine Kammermusik for Wind Quintet, Op. 24, No. 2

Françaix Quartet for Winds

Beethoven Quintet in E flat major for Piano and Winds, Op. 16

Neilsen : Wind Quintet, Op.43
Impressions of this long and interesting work varied, like the performance itself, crisp with good harmonic density allowing the musicians to flourish with much individual expression and solo performance. Repeatedly the variation in mood evoked visual pictures of the natural albeit at times dense environment which challenged and contrasted with the reality of observing a pleasure craft sailing past the panoramic window of the room. Utzon would have been pleased!
Kleine Kammermusic for WIND quintet. Paul Hindermith Opus 24 1922

Something different, unexpected, well named and very playful indeed which contrasted with the mid afternoon haze and softness of the harbour view. This was a new experience for the audience and me, hearing it for the first time.

This piece was a forceful statement from the beginning, allowing full testing of virtuosity, personal expression and enjoyment by the musicians which frequently became clearly visible to all to enjoy. So we too enjoyed, absorbed the mood of the performers and interpreted  the work and journey accordingly.

My preference for experiencing this work more than once with its  constant  but very interesting interplay of the dissonant and deliciously warm melody variations would be in a dark room allowing a swirl of images to form and assault our imagination beyond one’s usual expectations.

The power, emotion and momentum produced at times seemed more than what could be expect from a quintet, and with the easily perceptible Stravinsky like harmonic and rhythmic punctuations made it exciting listening, some of which felt reminiscent of Petrushka.

Consequently, the frequent confrontation within the work with so much sudden dissonance  may be disturbing to some and invigorating to others, like life itself, unpredictable, but this work one can enjoy more than once.  

Quartet for Winds, Jean Francaix 1933

No horn! No wild images to blow your mind, just light, enthusiastic, joyful sound with traces of lively exuberance. Genius it seems manifests in infinite ways contriving some very complex multi instrument compositions like Wagner has and at the other end of the scale we, today experienced the opposite in a quartet with verve sparkle and wit with such ease.

Although composed recently. mid last century, the work defies the trend towards atonal and dissonant compositions allowing the simple combination of sound to be easily digested and identifying a clear positive statement with just four wind instruments, one could call elation without the extreme.

Such is genius, often overlooked, but here within the bare bones of the Utzon room Francaix’s work was a sheer delight,  made possible on this occasion only by the talent and sensitivity  of the four really fine artists involved.

Quintet in E-flat major for Piano and Winds. Op. 16, 1796. Ludwig Van Beethoven

Suddenly, like warm air flooding a cold room, from the very first phrase, that familiar Beethoven sound embraced the space filled predominantly with a white haired audience. Immediately, the reaction was palpable. Is this because since his death we made him so popular and as such his works are familiar or is there an enduring special quality about the way he tells the story – unlike any other composer?

In this early work, like in many of his later compositions, Beethoven touches the nerve quickly and directly – no ambiguous wavering and innuendo for him, boldly, with the minimum foreplay he is into one’s head in the simplest, most economic way creating themes and enormous variety emotions, frequently at an amazing rate. And it hangs together amazingly well producing delight which I called the ‘Beethoven sound’, already there, untapped at 27, that everybody now recognises.

This work, probably re-written for our benefit seems in parts as intended to enhance the role of the piano and as such have the wind quartet provide spatial continuity and a background.

Whatever the original intention for the Viennese audience, this performance in Sydney required extreme skill to provide a performance of considerable virtuosity and Omega’s lovely pianist Maria Raspopova did deliver and so did the 4 members of the wind group, splendidly.  

Repeat listening is recommended for deeper understanding of the work and its possible relationship to the later, more mature and intricate piano trio, also in E-flat major created 12 years later on with Beethoven’s return to composing chamber music.

Review by Michael Bures ASTC RAIA


Australian Chamber Orchestra in Concert with guest artist Emmanuel Pahud

This was an absolutely ravishing, exquisite concert and a feast for the senses.

Fourteen years after his Australian debut with the ACO, one of Richard Tognetti’s great musical friends is back with his special 14K solid gold flute. Guest soloist Emmanuel Pahud currently divides his time between his Principal Flute position at the Berlin Philharmonic and touring the world as a soloist.

Through the concert there was a great rapport between  Tognetti, Pahud and the Orchestra.

We first heard CPE Bach’s Sonata for Flute in A minor in three movements. The first movement was slow and languid, the second intricate, bright and bubbling with the flute darting and fluttering. In the third movement the flute was even more birdlike in parts; teasing , scampering and swooping. Pahud’s playing was dazzling and effortless with creamy, expressive, beguiling legato. Continue reading Australian Chamber Orchestra in Concert with guest artist Emmanuel Pahud


Conductor Roland Peelman indicated in his insightful pre-concert talk that this concert performance of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas was complemented by a programme of shorter vocal works all composed in the seventeenth century.

The result was as special as this interesting talk had us anticipate. Madrigals, laments, litanies and a scena entertained us in the first half of the programme. These works were all innovations by Monteverdi, save for a pair of radical madrigal expressions by Gesualdo.

The Gesualdo works were performed with all their boldness and rich harmonic radicalism completely celebrated. This made them a definite highlight of the concert’s first half. It is always worthwhile introducing audiences to this unique composer, and giving the existing Gesualdo fans a taste of the composer’s progressive harmonic accent live.

Another thrill of this compilation was the Lamento d’Arianna in its five part madrigal form rather than as an extended recitative by a soloist. This version was rich, lush and set the text of love tragically lost across male and female voices for a more universal expression of despair at predicament.

Monteverdi’s Laetaniae della Beata Vergine was a fine interpretation  of this composer’s forward thinking regarding sacred text setting. The singing was as consistent,  driving and reverent as such litanies demand.

To conclude the first half, the Lamenta della Ninfa by Monteverdi was sung and acted with pleasing clarity of tone and character by soprano Wei Jiang with dramatic male chorus providing narrative colour.

Following interval we were treated to a concert performance of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. More members of The Muffat Collective accompanied the choir and soloists in this half for an historically informed rendering of this much loved work.

David Greco brought a commanding , well ornamented and rich,  sensitive voice to the role of Aeneas, as the only principal not from the ranks of the Sydney Chamber Choir.

Greco’s stagecraft and commensurate acting skill was secure and his gestures economically powerful. His final scene with Dido was dramatic gold and a well timed, well balanced vocal sparring match.

The part of Belinda was realised by Megan Cronin with agile vocal delivery. The vocal lines were nicely adorned with complex and well executed decoration. Brief but fine  characterisation of the sailor was supplied by Ed Suttle, as well as Natalie Shea’s spirit. There was ensemble evil witchcraft present with increasing excitement from Wei Jiang, Ria Andriani and Josie Gibson.

For her well sculptured role of  Dido, Belinda Montgomery utilised a full palette of vocal hue, dramatic skill and swirls of nuance.  Her interaction with chorus and Belinda’s character was keen and genuine as she  brought us a Queen’s fragilities and hesitations  at attempting any expression of emotion.

Her trajectory towards love completely lost hurtled past us in beautiful and emphatic tone. This made her character a pivotal one in both the opera and in supporting the tragic themes of the entire concert.

Montgomery’s  final ‘When I Am Laid In Earth’ was a rendition which brought the emotion and musical elaboration freshly to us in impressively graded layers.

The Muffat Ensemble was truly at home with all the seventeenth century fare. They, as well as the  vocalists, were conducted clearly by Roland Peelman. The Collective provided a rich and charismatic tapestry over which all characterisations could be woven. Both  soloists and the chorus were sympathetically accompanied.

The chorus work was joyous, engaged, vibrant and rich as Purcell’s innovative sound effects were brought to the Great Hall stage. Perhaps  the offstage echo chorus seemed a slight bit unbalanced this time, but the echo volume drop element was successful. It was only a little tweaking needed to offstage part placement which would have made the echoes completely exact.

This concert had an evocative and well sung version of Purcell’s classic opera as the jewel in its crown. There were many jewels in this programming though and some real gems of performances from choir members and invited guests on stage. It was a well patronised and exciting concert with which to conclude the choir’s 2017 season. We look forward to 2018, with the first concert at the City Recital Hall on March 25.



As part of the very popular Prelude In Tea series at the Independent Theatre. this was an intense passionate concert strikingly played by the Sonus Piano Quartet. This quartet takes its name from sonus, the Latin word derived from the Greek “tonos” that means “noise, sound”.

Formed in late 2011 by Brenda Jones, the Sonus Piano Quartet celebrates the art of sound production in their performances.  The Quintet features four master musicians : Australian Chamber Orchestra violinist, Aiko Goto, violinist Jacqui Cronin, Sydney Symphony Orchestra cellist, Timothy Nankervis and pianist, Brenda Jones.

The concert began with  Saint-Saëns Piano Quartet in B flat major, Op. 41 with its elegant swoops on the violin. Jones’ playing on the piano was assertive, and Nankervis’ cello paying was intense.

The second movement heard Jones on piano off to a spiky, emphatic start followed later by some flourishes.  There were some tango like dance rhythms,  and a vibrant discussion between the quartet led to a fiery, turbulent conclusion.

The third movement, a scherzo in rondo form, had an edgy start, and featured fast, scurrying playing on the viola and violin. The music pulsated – the piano had a fast, anxious mini solo, whilst the other instruments  commented. The music delicately evaporated to a pianissimo at the end. Continue reading PRELUDE IN TEA : SONUS PIANO QUARTET @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE


Andrew Chubb gave this Recital to celebrate Glass and his oeuvre last Sunday afternoon, 17th September, at the Independent theatre, Miller Street, North Sydney.

It was a masterful performance by him. Chubb is an Australian pianist composer and educator, the latter being via the Newcastle Conservatorium where he has been for the last 18 years. He is also a noted promoter of other contemporary composers and has premiered performances of their music.

Glass is a contemporary modernist composer, and his best works  are characterised by repetitive hypnotic rhythmic patterns which are often an underlay to striking melodic lines. The results tend to capture the insecurities and brittleness of today’s consciousness. Not surprisingly Glass’s  work has featured in a number of films, especially The Hours, the score for which earned him an Academy award nomination. Continue reading PHILIP GLASS @ 80 : ANDREW CHUBB ON SOLO PIANO @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE


The Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra (ARCO) under the leadership of Australian musician and educator Richard Gill OAM performed its third and final concert for 2017 at the City Recital in Sydney on Sunday 17th September.

An exquisite Revolutionary Romance concert was performed by the ARCO Chamber Soloists. Fine chamber musicians passionately performed the sublime chamber works by Mozart and Spohr. They delivered the rich sounds, colours, ornamentation and textures on classical period strings played with heartfelt passion.

A real highlight was the basset clarinet played by the Australian star of this instrument Nicole Van Bruggen. I will remember her performance on this wonderful instrument and Mozart’sClarinet Quintet in A Major, K581’ for a long time. It is no wonder these superb musicians are so committed to delivering historically informed performances ‘HIP’ in such intimate settings.

The program began with Louis Sphor’s ‘String Sextet in C major Op. 140’ in Allegro Moderato. Spohr was German born with a reputation during the first half of the 19th century as a violin virtuoso, conductor, author, teacher and a prolific composer.  Spohr commented when he wrote this piece that his spirits were raised by the current events in Germany. He wrote upon the manuscript, “At the time of the glorious people’s revolution…& reawakening of Germany.” Continue reading ARCO : REVOLUTIONARY ROMANCE @ CITY RECITAL HALL


This was a stirring, thrilling concert of enormous range and vibrancy.

Under the dynamic, precise baton of guest conductor Matthew Wood the latest Willoughby Symphony  concert had the umbrella title NATURE.

First was Smetana’s symphonic tone-poem The Moldau, evoking the flow of the Moldau River from its source in the mountains of the Bohemian Forest, through the Czech countryside, to the city of Prague. The piece is one of six works that form his cycle My Country .

The Moldua  is divided into eight sections and includes a village wedding, hunting horns and nymphs dancing in the moonlight. It began with bubbling flute and was mostly tumbling and flowing, the orchestra surging with shimmering violins and pulsating woodwind and a torrential tempestuous, crashing finale

Next came the presentation and announcement of the 2017 Young Composers award, presented by Willoughby Mayor Cr. Gail Giles-Gidney to Ella Macens for her work Flight. The APRA encouragement award went to Andrew Howes.

Ella Macens

With Macens in the audience the Orchestra performed a richly textured and multilayered rendition of her work. The piece began strongly  with pulsating percussion and striking woodwind. Most of the work was a conversation between the violins and the rest of the orchestra.

We then heard Cantos Españoles: Three Songs of Garcia Lorca by 2017 Composer-in-Residence, Daniel Rojas with the Willoughby Symphony Choir and mezzo-soprano, Jenny Duck-Chong.

Jenny Duck-Chong

This marks the final collaboration of Rojas with the Orchestra as composer in residence for this year.

The three powerful short pieces ranged from celebratory bells to silent mourning. Based on stories by Lorca the piece was conceived as a trilogy that celebrates the tragedy and triumph of love, innocence and unbridled passions.

The piece was full of dark, fiery Flamenco passion with staccato palmas and stamping rhythms, castanets and tambourine. Duck-Chong was compelling and charismatic, the Choir in fine form with a HUGE sound.

After interval we heard one of Australia’s most distinguished horn virtuosos, Hector McDonald, in a special guest appearance, performing Richard Strauss ‘ Horn Concerto No.1 in E flat major op 11.

Strauss’ piece had a crashing strident opening with lush lyrical strings in the first movement and superb playing by McDonald, dominating the orchestral discussion.

The second movement was softer and more thoughtful with tentative woodwind and the final, third movement had darting flute and dark tumbling dramatic strings while the horn was rather bright and skittish. McDonald’s  playing was refined and glorious.

We were then privileged to hear as an encore a most unusual combination horn and harp in Dolci Pianti (Sweet tears) by J. Strauss Jnr. The horn with its showy flourishes rather dominated the flowing, rippling harp, as played by Meriel Owen.

The Orchestra performed one more piece in the encore. This was Dvorak’s Symphonic Variations Op.78. full of varying moods, warm strings and delicious woodwind. At times it was strident bombastic and loud, with scurrying strings, or conversely softly creeping with cat like tread, at other times jaunty and dynamic, or rich, ominous and exotic. Under Wood’s baton the Orchestra was extremely well balanced and played with gusto in a thrilling performance.

Running time – roughly 2 hours 15 minutes including interval.

Willoughby Symphony Orchestra and Choir in NATURE played the Concourse Chatswood on the 16th and 17th September 2017.

Program :-
Smetana’s The Moldau
Ella Macens Flight
Daniel Rojas Cantos Españoles: Three Songs of Garcia Lorca
Richard Strauss ‘ Horn Concerto No.1 in E flat major op 11
Dvorak’s Symphonic Variations Op.78.

For more about the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra visit