Music

LIVE AT LUNCH : NOCTURNES AND SONGS TO THE MOON @ THE CONCOURSE

Featured photo – Jane Rutter.

This was a delightful concert the theme of which was nocturnes and songs to the Moon – appropriate for a performance on the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year.

Jane Rutter’s special guests artists this time were soprano Catherine Bouchier, pianist John Martin and singer/guitarist Bertie Boekemann.

For the concert Rutter wore a striking, elegant blue gown with a draped over the shoulder long silver shawl.

The concert opened with Dvorak’s Song to the Moon  from his opera Russalka in a passionate performance. Schumann’s Mondnacht was melancholic and Strauss’ Die Nacht was somewhat brighter in mood with a rippling piano and flute. Continue reading LIVE AT LUNCH : NOCTURNES AND SONGS TO THE MOON @ THE CONCOURSE

ENSEMBLE VINIFERA : THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE

Ensemble Vinifera – Ellie Brinch, John Lewis and Andrew Wilson

The myth of ‘no female composers’ will be exploded – in style! – in a wonderful winter afternoon concert on Sunday 30 July  when Ensemble Vinifera makes its appearance in the popular Prelude in Tea series at the Independent Theatre, North Sydney.

The monthly concerts featuring outstanding chamber musicians include refreshments – and a delectable selection of cakes!

“Why are there so few female composers?” It’s a question that resurfaces regularly and yet, there are in fact many first-rate female composers;  this concert will feature works from several, spanning the early 19th century through to the present day.  The feature work is Ensemble Vinifera’s first commissioned work from Sydney composer Jessica Wells.

Vinifera will also be performing works by contemporary American composer Libby Larsen as well as Nadia Boulanger, Rebecca Clarke,  Clara Schumann (student and wife of Robert) and Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel (brother of Felix and considered a child prodigy of similar stature).

Ensemble Vinifera features Andrew Wilson (cello), Ella Brinch (viola) and John Lewis (clarinet).  The group was created in 2013 by several Sydney musicians who regularly perform together in the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra.

Based around i ts core group, Vinifera metamorphoses as required to perform anything from solo Bach to octets for mixed winds and strings.  The ensemble is inherently flexible, playing music from a wide variety of eras, genres and  national backgrounds across a broad palette of instrumental combinations.

The musicians particularly enjoy bringing less frequently seen groupings, composers and works to Australian audiences.  The founding members have studied and performed throughout Australia, the UK, Europe and North America  covering the broad spectrum of chamber, symphonic and operatic repertoire.

As well as a love for great music, the ensemble members share a love for good food and wine  in the company of good friends – hence their choice of name!

Guest artists for the concert will include Christina Wilson (mezzo-soprano), Ewan Foster (violin), Lisa Osmialowski (flute) and Azumi Lehmann (harp) with Alan Hicks (piano).

DATE FOR THE DIARY

Ensemble Vinifera’s THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES will play the Independent Theatre, 269 Miller Street, North Sydney on Sunday 30 July from 2.30 (afternoon tea) for a 3.30 pm concert.

Sydney Arts Guide has one double pass to offer- editor.sydneyartsguide@gmail.com The winner will be advised by email.

 

 

 

 

 

COMING SOON : QUEEN : IT’S A KINDA MAGIC @ THE STATE THEATRE

The world’s premier Queen tribute show, Queen: It’s A Kinda Magic, will complete a 15-stop national tour from May – taking fans back to the glory days of Freddie Mercury and his iconic band Queen.

Capturing the imagination of Queen fans both locally and internationally, Director Johnny Van Grinsven attributes the show’s continued success to the attention-to-detail; everything from the costumes, instruments and even the lighting cues have been designed to replicate those seen in real Queen concerts.

Making QUEEN : IT’S A KINDA MAGIC extraordinarily authentic is the close consultation of Peter Freestone, Freddie Mercury’s best friend, biographer, assistant and constant companion for the final 12 years of his life. Freestone has schooled the cast and producers on the characteristics and nuances of the original band in order to perfect the performance. Continue reading COMING SOON : QUEEN : IT’S A KINDA MAGIC @ THE STATE THEATRE

FLINDERS QUARTET SHINES WITH ITS DEBUT CONCERT @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE

The highly polished Flinders Quartet, comprising Shane Chen and Nicholas Waters on violin, Helen Ireland on viola and Zoe Knighton on cello, made its debut appearance at North Sydney’s lovely Independent Theatre with special guest cellist, Timo-Veikko Valve.

They presented a delightful program by Peter Sculthorpe, Boccherini and Schubert chamber pieces for strings. With such a program one could readily identify the composer’s country of origin as in the case of Sculthorpe and country of adoption in the case of Boccherini.

Following a fine introduction by Knighton (founding Cellist) it was clear from the start that this ensemble has a strong affinity for contemporary Australian composers. In fact Sculthorpe’s “String Quartet No.18” was written on the Quartet’s 10th birthday. It was jointly commissioned by Peter and Leila Doyle for the Flinders Quartet and by the Edinburgh International Festival for the Tokyo Quartet, first performed in June 2010.

The program opened with Sculthorpe’s “String Quartet No.18” which is a heart-felt expression of the composer’s concern about climate change. Peter Sculthorpe wrote, “rather than attempt to write a work that addresses the plight of the planet itself, I chose to use Australia as a metaphor for it”. Continue reading FLINDERS QUARTET SHINES WITH ITS DEBUT CONCERT @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE

CD: ‘CELEBRARE’ – SYDNEY CONSERVATORIUM OF MUSIC WIND SYMPHONY

Above: CD cover :  Celebrae (Klavier Music Productons K  11215) Featured Image   :   SCM Wind Symphony

The title of this CD,  Celebrare (Klavier K11215) is borrowed from Carl Vine’s orchestral work of 1993, Celebrare Celeberrime : a celebration for orchestra which begins the recording in its fine wind band arrangement form.

This title’s reference to celebration is a perfect theme for this CD. The CD was produced following the centenary of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and live performances by SCM Wind Symphony at the institution’s Centenary Festival in 2015.

The recording, dated 2016, has been mastered with a pleasing bright clarity by Bruce Leek. This celebrates the sound of the school’s quality symphonic wind ensemble. The emergence of this CD also recognises the Sydney Conservatorium’s recent centenary as well as this music school’s efforts towards being at the international forefront of wind band interpretation. Two works on the recording were commissioned by the SCM Wind Symphony and appear as first recordings on this disc. Continue reading CD: ‘CELEBRARE’ – SYDNEY CONSERVATORIUM OF MUSIC WIND SYMPHONY

BALMAIN SINFONIA : CENTENARY CONCERT @ THE ITALIAN FORUM LEICHHARDT

Above: Tinel Dragoi performed Mozart’s Violin Concerto No 5 with the Balmain Sinfonia. Featured image: Director of Music for Balmain Sinfonia, Gary Stavrou OAM

This was Balmain Sinfonia’s 100th concert, and the orchestra’s popular contribution to the local performance scene since its inaugural concert in May 1992 is truly cause for celebration.

This milestone Balmain Sinfonia concert included the usual fare of an excited audience, a diverse concert programme and interesting programme notes to help unpack and enhance the works presented.

The evening also offered champagne for all in the crowd and interspersed with the music were tributes by Director of Music Gary Stavrou OAM to founding members of the orchestra.

Audience participation in the form of the signature music trivia or Mystery Music  for the chance to win tickets to future concerts continued to engage old and new audience members alike.

Collaboration between the orchestra and a local soloist again was a feature of this concert. As always it introduced the audience to a great work and an accomplished artist. This concert saw Romanian-born violinist Tinel Dragoi  join the orchestra  on the stage.

In this concert his intelligent and expressive rendering of Mozart’s Violin Concerto No 5 in A major K 219 was a highlight of the first half.

In particular, the cadenza work was beautifully conveyed by this violinist’s intricate artistry. There was no showy or ingenuine note in his interpretation of the concerto. Instead, a simply elegant and exacting development of Mozart’s extensive musical ingredients and language ensued.

Mozartean drama and a sufficiently sympathetic accompaniment were provided by the smaller ranks of Balmain Sinfonia exposed in this work.

The first half of the concert began with two atmospheric works by the chemist-composer Alexander Borodin. For this celebratory concert, such a choice of composer rang out a keen note of comparison to formidable conductor Gary Stavrou, whose early qualifications were in pharmacy.

We heard Borodin’s descriptive works In the Steppes of Central Asia and the Prince Igor Overture. On this occasion the second work was especially successful in conveying the depth of tone colour and mood necessary for painting Borodin’s fine vistas and characterisations.

After interval the Balmain Sinfonia supplied us with more colourful playing as Dvorak’s Symphony No 8 in G major Op 88 was boldly delivered.

The first movement, allegro con brio, endeared us to Dvorak’s signature evocative and gentle development of musical material.

It also showed off the talents of Balmain Sinfonia in their centenary concert.

Through the remainder of this symphony we were taken on a quality excursion. Firstly, through an expanded adagio, here  well played to portray Dvorak’s unique approach to drama and also the legacy of such slow movements as written by Beethoven.

The orchestra contrasted this movement with a successfully lilting allegretto grazioso third movement and concluded with a fourth movement rich in brass fanfares and here with a well structured delivery of Dvorak’s version of the classic theme and variations structure. As in the Borodin works, there were repeated moments of fine playing from Balmain Sinfonia’s wind and brass choirs throughout this symphony.

Bravo and Happy Birthday to the Balmain Sinfonia for its 100th event. This is an achievement, as is its continued fostering of a firm fan base and team of capable volunteers. Both these are assets in the modern concert-making environment.

Balmain Sinfonia’s next performance on September 23 promises to entertain. It will include Khachaturian, Respighi, orchestra members playing Bach’s Concerto for Oboe and Clarinet orchestra, and Mozart’s  Symphony No 25 in G minor K 183, which had its opening feature in the film Amadeus.

 

 

SYDNEY CONSERVATORIUM’S INAUGURAL INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL

Featured image – The Phil Slater Band

As one of the most prestigious and longest-running music schools in Australia, it is only fitting that the Sydney Conservatorium of Music open its doors to the public, as it did last Sunday, in an event which united International jazz artists with students, to deliver an elite and diverse lineup.

In its inaugural year the program presented a plethora of musicians to represent both popular or traditional jazz and a more highbrow, experimental jazz. Enhanced by the stunning Sydney Harbour location, the Conservatorium of Music is only five minutes walk from Circular Quay; it’s castle-like trusses grandly fill the sky as you enter the through the main entrance. During the week, ‘the Con’ is a home to music students but on this day it became a magical and revered space for the public to share in. Continue reading SYDNEY CONSERVATORIUM’S INAUGURAL INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL

ELECTROFRINGE PRESENTS ‘DIASPAR’ @ 107 PROJECTS REDFERN

Electrofringe is proudly and loudly curating a night of experimental and emerging artists to showcase their exciting works in the Vivid Music series at 107 Projects. The evening provides a glimpse into the world of Sydney’s most exciting technology-infatuated sonic talent.

Laura Hunt is a mixed media and sound artist whose work speculates about the plausible futures of a techno-spiritual, post-capitalist union.

Steffan Lanigro creates biologically inspired sonic landscapes, using artificial neural networks and modular synthesis. Continue reading ELECTROFRINGE PRESENTS ‘DIASPAR’ @ 107 PROJECTS REDFERN

THOROUGHBASS PRESENT ‘OVERTURE AND CONCERTO’ @ MOSMAN ART GALLERY

 

Featured image – Michael Tsalka. Pic by Olga Masri de Mussali.

Thoroughbass is delighted to welcome back international keyboard specialist Dr Michael Tsalka in a concert of overtures and concertos for two harpsichords and strings. Tsalka, whose performances last year left audiences enthralled, joins Diana Weston to perform works by J.S. Bach, Vivaldi, Scarlatti and others.

Dr Tsalka walks the global stage performing hundreds of concerts each year in Europe, Japan, China, the USA and Australia. His repertoire spans the baroque, classical and romantic eras to the present day. His performances, whether on harpsichord, fortepiano, clavichord or modern piano are historically informed and full of musical integrity.

Bach’s concerto for Harpsichord and strings BWV 1055 will be well-known to many. Less well-known but no less worthy of performance are Georgio Benda and Alessandro Scarlatti’s concertos for the same combination. Continue reading THOROUGHBASS PRESENT ‘OVERTURE AND CONCERTO’ @ MOSMAN ART GALLERY

ANGELA HEWITT PIANO RECITAL @ CITY RECITAL HALL

 

This matinee event at the City Recital Hall, Angel Place was the final recital concert in Angela Hewitt’s recent national tour with Musica Viva. Hewitt hailed Musica Viva as world class prior to encores, recognising them as a world leader in tour presentation and support. This fine partnership was matched by exquisite interpretations of Bach and early Beethoven by Hewitt which reinforced her international superstar status.

The programme demonstrated pure balance and symmetry just as successfully as the pianist’s excellent and even command of fugue and counterpoint. Each half of the concert consisted of a substantial Bach Partita with a well-known Beethoven sonata to follow.

The Partita format was a fine vehicle with which to present Angela Hewitt’s consummate and quite legendary Bach interpretative skills. New and existing fans delighted in the fine control, contrasts in character between the dance movements and layers of nuance selected to create a Bach keyboard sound for the piano. This sound never directly imitated the Baroque instruments nor did it drown out the music’s subtleties by using sound options from the modern instrument’s arsenal. Continue reading ANGELA HEWITT PIANO RECITAL @ CITY RECITAL HALL

CD GIVEAWAY : FUNK ENGINE’S ‘TAKING A RIDE’

For some musicians, funk is where it’s at. It starts and ends with the groove! FUNK ENGINE is one such band. The band members – three from Sydney, one from Byron Bay –  all met through the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the Jazz Workshop.

FUNK ENGINE was formed in 2013 by electric bass player, composer and band leader Siebe Pogson and also features Nish Manjanuth (tenor saxophone), Holly Conner (drums) and Felix Lalanne (electric guitar).

They  debuted at The Newsagency in 2013 to great success and have since packed them in Lazy Bones Lounge, the Beats festival Peats Ridge, Hermann’s Bar, Foundry 616, The Townie, Mr Falcon’s and the Town Hall Hotel Newtown.

Their new CD TAKING A RIDE  has been recorded at Free Energy Device Studios, produced by Llew Kiek and Richard Belkner, and mastered by Michael Lynch.

Guest artists on TAKING A RIDE include Rhyan Clapham aka rapper Dobby, Deiniol Chynoweth (vocals), Nick Polovineo (trombone), Nick Calligeros (trumpet) and Novak Manojlovic (keyboard).  

Sydney Arts Guide has 4 copies of Funk Engine’s TAKING A RIDE to give away. Email -editor.sydneyartsguide@gmail.com with FUNK ENGINE CD GIVEAWAY in the subject heading. Please provide  your postal address. Winners will be advised by return email. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JENNY’S DREAM : TO PRODUCE AUSTRALIA’S FIRST ELECTRIC VIOLA DA GAMBA CD

Jenny Erikkson’s group Elysian Fields is Australia’s only electric viola da gamba ensemble. Their dream/vision is to take one of the Western world’s oldest instruments into the 21st century! Her troupe is seeking funding help from music lovers to make this dream possible. 

Things are already in action. Leading jazz artists and composers Matt McMahon and Matt Keegan have each written a remarkable major song cycle for the CD – making them the first and second Australian composers ever to write vocal music for the electric gamba!  

Bassist Siebe Pogson has written several pieces as has Eriksson herself.  Each of these works has been premiered and “played in” to live audiences.   Continue reading JENNY’S DREAM : TO PRODUCE AUSTRALIA’S FIRST ELECTRIC VIOLA DA GAMBA CD

AUSTRALIAN ROMANTIC AND CLASSICAL ORCHESTRA: ‘UNFINISHED ROMANCE’ @ CITY RECITAL HALL

A joyous celebration of Rossini and Schubert by the formidable Australian Romantic and Classical orchestra performed on dynamic period instruments.

The Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra (ARCO) which specialises in Historically Informed Performance or ‘HIP’ – performed its second concert in the 2017 concert season. A superb Romantic and Classical program of Gioachino Rossini and Franz Schubert first time performed on beautiful period instruments in the perfectly intimate City Recital Hall.    

Sadly Richard Gill AO was unable to conduct this night’s performance due to his sudden indisposition. He was replaced on very short notice by the talented guest concertmaster Jakob Lehmann. We sensed from the start that we were in very capable hands. His passion and leadership shone through navigating the orchestra to its splendid finale.

Lehmann is currently concertmaster of the wonderful Anima Eterna Brugge and one of his chief interests is period performance, mostly of the 19th and early 20th Centuries, aptly stepping into Richard Gill’s significant musical shoes. Kudos to Lehmann for having lead ARCO to such a fine performance.   Continue reading AUSTRALIAN ROMANTIC AND CLASSICAL ORCHESTRA: ‘UNFINISHED ROMANCE’ @ CITY RECITAL HALL

HONG KONG PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA @ THE CONCERT HALL

This is the first time the Hong Kong Philharmonic has visited Australia in its 43-year history. Its 2017 Tour was led by internationally-renowned conductor maestro Jaap van Zweden, Music Director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic since the 2012/13 season, who conducted with elegance, aplomb and a terrific sense of timing and phrasing

The ambitious programme included the Australian premiere of Quintessence, a new work by Hong Kong composer Dr Fung Lam as well as Mozart’s Violin Concerto no. 4 and Mahler’s Symphony no. 1.

The opening work Dr Fung Lam’s Quintessence which tries to define and express the Buddhist ideas of striving towards one’s highest goals and attainment. Fung Lam is the orchestra’s Director of Orchestral Planning and the first Hong Kong composer ever to be commissioned by the BBC.
Continue reading HONG KONG PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA @ THE CONCERT HALL

OMEGA ENSEMBLE : SONGS FROM THE BUSH @ THE UTZON ROOM

 

Above : Composer of Songs From The Bush, Ian Munro. Featured image : Omega Ensemble clarinettist and Co-Artistic Director, David Rowden.

Omega Ensemble again presented a chamber music concert in the delectable Utzon Room setting which championed works combining the clarinet with string quartet.

David Rowden’s seamless and sonorous clarinet tone across all instrumental registers and compositional style spoke beautifully to us throughout the event, sensitively supported by the Omega Ensemble strings.

The five versatile musicians blended expertly in an eclectic programme featuring two recent Australian works. A rarely heard clarinet quintet from the late nineteenth century was introduced to the audience and a popular Mozart string quartet was thrown elegantly into the mix. Continue reading OMEGA ENSEMBLE : SONGS FROM THE BUSH @ THE UTZON ROOM

MET ORCHESTRA #2 : FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE

Precision, a wide spectrum of nuance and continued fine rapport as an orchestra allowed formidable expression throughout TMO’s latest Met Concert, entitled FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE at the Eugene Goosens Hall, the ABC Centre.

Getting the event off to a flying start was the overture to Glinka’s opera Ruslan and Ludmilla. A successful choice to initially energise the atmosphere, this piece rocketed out at a brisk pace.
In this way the concert was given an exciting opening from one of the fathers of traditional Russian music. TMO’s track record of excellence in delivery of dramatic musical moments with directness and solid character continued here.

Continue reading MET ORCHESTRA #2 : FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE

SPANISH BAROQUE : THE AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA AND CIRCA @ CITY RECITAL HALL

The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Circa have reunited for a glorious blend of Baroque music and circus at the City Recital Hall.

The performance was inspired by the Brandenburg’s ARIA Award-winning CD Tapas, which includes plenty of percussion, guitar and theorbo, and lashings of violin bravado, with music by Albéniz, Merula, Murcia, Martinez and more.

The two special guests were Baroque guitarist Stefano Maiorana from Rome and soprano Natasha Wilson from New Zealand making her Australian debut.

Circa’s artistic director Yaron Lifschitz’s choreography astutely blended sensational dazzling solos and breathtaking ensemble routines while always harmonising with the spirit of the music. It was a fluid combination of tumbling, gymnastics, balancing and aerial numbers , in various jaw-dropping sections making you blink and go “ I see it but I don’t believe it“. Dangerous dives, throws and catches were included as well as feats of strength and daring as well as sometimes triple-level human pyramids. Continue reading SPANISH BAROQUE : THE AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA AND CIRCA @ CITY RECITAL HALL

AUSTRALIAN HAYDN ENSEMBLE PRESENTS MELVYN TAN AND HAYDN’S PARIS @ CITY RECITAL HALL

 

Join the Australian Haydn Ensemble (AHE) and Artistic Director Skye McIntosh as they present one of the world’s greatest forte-pianists, Melvyn Tan, in a program inspired by the beauty and romance of classical Paris.

Melvyn Tan, a pioneer of performance on historical instruments is renowned for his ‘silvery virtuosity’.  Exploration, insight and imagination are vital ingredients in Melvyn Tan’s blend of artistic attributes.

Tan will perform the Mozart concerto No.18 in B flat major, written for the Parisian pianist, Maria Theresa von Paradis.

The Ensemble will also present the Australian premiere of a symphony by Chevalier de Saint-Georges, the legendary African Parisian violinist, director, swordsman, soldier and composer, known as The Black Mozart. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN HAYDN ENSEMBLE PRESENTS MELVYN TAN AND HAYDN’S PARIS @ CITY RECITAL HALL

A PRELUDE IN TEA : MARK ISAACS @ THE INDEPENDENT

The perfect Sunday afternoon out!

A PRELUDE IN TEA is a Sunday chamber music series offering a delicious afternoon tea as a prelude to a virtuosic afternoon concert of music at the splendid Independent Theatre in North Sydney.

Whilst last Sunday’s performance was not quite the Chamber music that some had subscribed to it was nevertheless a very enjoyable one.

This month’s recital featured the accomplished and renowned Australian pianist and composer Mark Isaacs.

Isaacs replaced the previously scheduled Enigma Trio on extremely short notice after a 12 month absence from the recital stage. He had just a mere two weeks to prepare and perform a lovely program of Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Debussy, Satie, Poulenc as well as playing some of his own original compositions, all delivered with fervour and passion.

Isaacs is one of the few musicians with interests both in the classical and jazz music world including film, television and theatre. His output encompasses both classical (over 90 works) and jazz, and takes in orchestral music – including a symphony (2013) as well as works for piano and orchestra

The concert began with Chopin’s Nocturne in D flat Major, Op. 27 No. 2, a glorious piece of music in Lento sostenuto style i.e. “slow and sustained”. His left hand played beautiful arpeggios throughout the entire piece and his right hand brought out the melody in a sustained yet delicate manner. His crescendos and decrescendos were gradual and the cadenza towards the end was delivered superbly.

What followed next were Chopin’s Etude Op. 10, No. 3 (“Tristesse”) with its poetic and lingering ‘sad’ melody played confidently by Isaacs with feeling and emotion. It’s a most beautiful melody. This was followed by the Etude Op. 25 No.  1 “Aeolian Harp” with its flowing use of rapid arpeggios requiring both dexterity and velocity.

Next came 3 Rachmaninoff Preludes in D major, Op. 23 No. 4, Prelude in E flat major, Op. 23 No.6 and Prelude in G sharp minor, Op. 32 No.12. The soulful melancholy melodies and noted use of arpeggios in these piece suited this pianist well.

The Debussy ‘Arabesque No. 1’ piece followed. One could sense that this piece resonated strongly with this pianist. The flowing, melodic and impressionistic style of Debussy has been quoted as an influence on some of Isaac’s style and compositions.

Eric Satie Gymnopedie No. 1 followed played in a highly restrained soulful manner completing the first half of the program with Francis Poulenc ‘Intermezzo No. 2 in D flat major’.

The second half of the program followed after a short interval.

Isaac’s performed excerpts from his “Children’s Songs (2011) original compositions No. 2 “Gentle Swing’, No. 4 Lullaby 1 and No. 18 Absheid (nicht). These are amongst a collection of eighteen piano pieces that describe a childhood scene or mood and contain both classical and jazz elements. The mood of these pieces were a mixture of the wistful and playful with the tempo at a moderate pace. Gentle Swing (#2) was very soothing and innocent, while Lullaby (#4) could almost put the listener to sleep. Abscheid (#18) was also hypnotic and serene.

The concert ended with the world premiere of “Three Impromptus (2017)” which was quite a treat. These pieces were entirely extemporised i.e. the pianist just made the pieces up on the spot without any prior idea of what he was going to play.

Isaac’s classical background and considerable technique shone through. The first piece commenced with gusto, forte with a high use of octaves delivering a forceful lovely melody. The second and third pieces were more melodic, beautiful and soulful with lots of chord progression.

Isaac’s has described his third piece as “quite grandiloquent”, “being surprised when it came out like that” and “I just play what I hear in the moment”. I would most certainly have to agree with him.

After a resounding applause he treated the audience to his unique jazz version of the “Wave” by Antonio Carlos Jobim, the famous Brazilian bossa nova composer.

This was a delightful concert featuring a pianist playing classical music with passion.

Be sure to see Mark Isaac perform jazz with his new trio at Foundry 616, Ultimo on Wednesday May 17 2017Together with his new trio they will be exploring great melodies – whether standards or “not-so-standards” – with fervour and lyricism.

 

OMEGA ENSEMBLE PRESENTS ‘SONGS FROM THE BUSH’ @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

Featured photo- Artistic Director David Rowden.

The clarinet takes the spotlight in this concert of deeply moving and lyrical chamber music.

Busoni’s lesser-known Suite for Clarinet and String Quartet in G minor is filled with beautiful lyricism and driving rhythms that display a Romantic musical language but is looking towards the future. Continue reading OMEGA ENSEMBLE PRESENTS ‘SONGS FROM THE BUSH’ @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

SYDNEY CHAMBER CHOIR: GERMAN ROMANTICS @ THE GREAT HALL, SYDNEY UNI

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.

For this ‘German Romantics’ concert the choir was led by Sam Allchurch in a joyous cavalcade of German choral music. The selected works ranged in chronology from Schubert’s Gott ist mein Hirt (The Lord is my Shepherd) composed in 1820 to Arnold Schoenberg’s Friede auf Erden (Peace on Earth) written in 1907.                   Continue reading SYDNEY CHAMBER CHOIR: GERMAN ROMANTICS @ THE GREAT HALL, SYDNEY UNI

BALMAIN SINFONIA IMPRESSES WITH ITS FIRST CONCERT FOR 2017

 

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.

The concert opened with an arrangement of Debussy’s Petite Suite originally composed for piano four hands in 1889. Each of the four movements was realised and performed with admirable clarity and appropriate sense of character. Continue reading BALMAIN SINFONIA IMPRESSES WITH ITS FIRST CONCERT FOR 2017

AUSTRALIAN ROMANTIC AND CLASSICAL ORCHESTRA : ‘ITALIAN ROMANCE’ @ CITY RECITAL HALL

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 Corialanus Overure 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 Orchestra No 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 12 Contradances 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.

 

NIKKI NOUVEAU CHANNELS THE GREAT EDITH PIAF @ THE BASEMENT

“Love is the only fire for which there is no insurance.” Edith Piaf

The fans were struggling to move the hot and humid air around The Basement, Sydney’s iconic music venue, and the atmosphere did not cool down for Nikki Nouveau’s sultry performance.

Nikki is a Sydney born Melbourne based singer and cabaret entertainer, who has had a long term fascination with Piaf, and subsequently travelled to Paris many times.

The show’s introductory number was an evocative instrumental piece by Andrew Scott on his piano accordion, conjuring up the feelings of an old French café. Continue reading NIKKI NOUVEAU CHANNELS THE GREAT EDITH PIAF @ THE BASEMENT

SYDNEY CHAMBER CHOIR DELVES INTO SOME GERMAN ROMANTICISM

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.

For more about German Romantics, visit http://www.sydneychamberchoir.org
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