Tag Archives: Sydney Conservatorium of Music


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 http://nswyo.com.au/concerts/upcoming-concerts/
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!


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


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”s Olive Pink’s Garden which requires an absolutely HUGE orchestra,

Boyd’s composition is inspired by the work of anthropologist Olive Muriel Pink, after which a beautiful park in Alice Springs was created,             Continue reading THE CHANCELLOR’S CONCERT @ SYDNEY CONSERVATORIUM OF MUSIC



Above: Jessie Wilson in the role of Night. Featured Image: The Cast of Con Opera’s The Fairy Queen. Photos by Prudence Upton

The keen delivery of dramatic and musical elements in Con Opera’s current production of THE FAIRY QUEEN by Henry Purcell elegantly enlivens this work for us. It is a fine showcase for the current students of opera at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

The seventeenth-century masques which originally entertained royalty by elaborating aspects of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream here maintain effective individual and collective character. There is a re-ordering of the material which works well as we are caught up in a satisfying swoop towards the final happiness of Purcell’s semi-opera.

This production is a visual treat with memorable tableaux and colourful, well-crafted action sequences. Within the three walls of an evocative composite set alluding to natural and indoor objects, stylish simplicity meets lush detail. The supernatural identities amongst the cast are suitably swathed in glittering gowns and innovatively patterned suits.

These successful costume designs by Isabella Andronos complement her set design which blends the enchanted wood with a salon turned upside down as supernatural beings get close to the mortals. Headpieces, costume fabrics and props successfully magnify the essence of each being onstage, whether they are fairies or gods.

Director Elsie Edgerton-Till ensures we are exposed to pleasing, self-contained characterisations and some spellbinding scenes. Vibrant exchanges and impressive entrances are features of each themed masque. Group scenes are fluid and never crowded in their blocking.

The orchestra is in the experienced hands of Associate Professor Neal Peres da Costa, chair of Sydney Conservatorium’s Historical Performance Unit. Purcell’s varied score is brought entertainingly to life.

The composer’s use of fanfare-like chorus declamations both before us and offstage are well realised. They successfully punctuate the opera with clarity and a joyous tone. Music for choreographer Daniella Lacob’s revival of period dance and other stage frivolities is effectively paced to assist the movement.

The shifts to moments of measured, intimate music are nicely executed. Relatively hushed but solid accompaniments such as the music beneath Titiana’s O Let Me Weep and Night’s See,See Even Night Herself Is Here create a rich tapestry over which the soprano voices can further weave expressive magic.

The sixteen characters presented in Purcell’s semi-opera are portrayed with continued individuality, colour, focus and energy. The students exhibit significant stage presence and calibre of acting as the masques unfold with agreeable momentum and interactions.

Chris Bryg’s Oberon is an excellent example of such  exuberance. He makes full use of the stage and dramatic opportunities. Decked out in a shiny gold suit, he communicates always with a penetrating voice. Thomas Marshall’s Phoebus also exhibits impressive pomp as he moves with resolve around many parts of the set. He sings with poise and with a promising tenor tone.

True operatic highlights come from sopranos Imogen Malfitano (as Titiana) and Jessie Wilson (as Night). Their gentle moments of controlled vocal line and mood are exquisitely executed. Malfitano’s vocal control and dramatic sensibilities make the expression of Oh Let Me Weep following her character’s loss of mortal affection a memorable part of this production.

Jessie Wilson delivers a commanding and confident performance as Night, especially when singing See, See Even Night Herself is Here, which follows an eye-catching entrance in night-themed gown and spectacular headpiece. She is arguably one of the most polished and watchable rising opera stars in this production.

The combined efforts of enthusiastic cast and insightful creatives enable audiences to sample one of Purcell’s popular entertainments in fresh style. With clever, quality production values it spoils the senses.

THE FAIRY QUEEN plays at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music on May 17 and May 19 at 6:30pm. Its run concludes with a 2pm matinee on May 21.


The Marais Project Presents MARAIS AND THE OPERATIC MUSE @ Sydney Conservatorium

2015 Marais Poster Concert 2

Classical music lovers have the opportunity to partake in an afternoon of fine French baroque music with The Marais Project’s upcoming concert succinctly titled, “Marais and the operatic muse”

The Marais Project turns their attention to Marais’ long-neglected operas which were much acclaimed at the Court of Louis XIV.  On the menu will be excerpts from Marais’ best known opera, Sémélé and a cantata by another favourite composer, Michel Pignolet de Montéclair.  

Regular Marais Project soprano and French music specialist, Belinda Montgomery, will be joined by up and coming baritone Alexander Knight for an afternoon of the kind of musical rarities The Marais Project is renowned for.

Date and time – 3.00 pm Sunday 16th August

Venue – Recital Hall West, Sydney Conservatorium, Macquarie St, Sydney. Continue reading The Marais Project Presents MARAIS AND THE OPERATIC MUSE @ Sydney Conservatorium

Steve Rogers takes out the inaugural Lysicrates Prize

Inset pic- Photo 6861 Premier Mike Baird announces Steve Rogers as the winner of the first Lysicrates Prize in front of the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates at the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney. Featured pic- In front of the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates at the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney after Premier Mike Baird’s announcement:-Lee Lewis, Artistic Director Griffin Theatre Company, Finance Minister Dominic Perrottet, Environment Minister Rob Stokes, Patricia Azarias, Kim Ellis, Executive Director, Botanic Gardens and Centennial Parklands, John Azarias

On Friday, 30th January 2015,  Steve Rodgers was awarded the inaugural Lysicrates Prize, receiving a full $12,500 Griffin Theatre Company commission, as voted by audience at Verbrugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music.  The Lysicrates Prize was founded by Patricia and John Azarias, in conjunction with Griffin Theatre Company and the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney. Mike Baird – Premier NSW, Luke Foley – NSW Opposition Leader, and Industry Leaders were amongst the audience.

Steve Rodgers was amongst three finalists who were shortlisted to submit the first act of a new play. The two runners-up Justin Fleming and Lally Katz each received a $1,000 cash prize. This innovative new Australian playwriting competition was inspired by the imminent restoration of an historic monument in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden: The Choragic Monument of Lysicrates.

Continue reading Steve Rogers takes out the inaugural Lysicrates Prize

The Marais Project : Re-Imaginings: Review

Bassist Siebe Pogson. Photo by Natasha Civijovski
Bassist Siebe Pogson. Photo by Natasha Civijovski

2014 marks the fifteenth anniversary of the commencement of THE MARIAS PROJECT. This institution, in which viola da gambist Jennifer Eriksson with her contemporaries in early music performance set out to perform the entire oeuvre of Marin Marais has already performed eighty-five per cent of Marais’ total output.

The last fifteen years of the Marais Project have put a very pleasurable focus on the agility and sonority of the viola da gamba as well as early music concert programming. Continue reading The Marais Project : Re-Imaginings: Review

The Marais Project: Re-Imaginings: Preview

Jenny 5 (1)
Jenny Eriksson will debut her Ruby Electric Viola de Gamba at the upcoming concert

2014 is a special year for viola da gambist, Jenny Eriksson as her group The Marais Project celebrates 15 years of continuous operation.  The theme for The Marais Project’s anniversary year is Re-imaginings, which is also the title of their final concert for 2014.

Alongside music for the conventional viola da gamba and harpsichord, Re-Imaginings will see the formal debut of Jenny’s Ruby Electric Viola da Gamba which is believed to be the only instrument of its kind in Australia.         Continue reading The Marais Project: Re-Imaginings: Preview

Britten’s Phaedra

Early music group Thoroughbass shared the stage with soprano Heather Hannah. Featured photo conductor Sarah Penicka-Smith

This weekend early music group Thoroughbass joined with award winning singer Heston Hannah to present a collection of baroque and contemporary works at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

The concert was headlined with Britten’s Phaedra, which was presented with a great flair for storytelling by Hannah. The strings and harpsichord work in a kind of chorus and response with the soprano voice, featuring an urgently descending atonal melodic line on the violins and low, humming sustained notes as an erratic rhythm on the timpani accompanies the vocals. Hannah’s voice perfectly suits the Greek mythological tale of Phaedra’s forbidden love. Her choice of guttural tone throughout the recitatives particularly suits the distress that Phaedra feels and her acceptance of the inevitability of death. Continue reading Britten’s Phaedra

The Marais Project: Collusion at the Con: Preview

For the Marais Project’s next concert COLLUSION, Artistic Director Jennifer Erickson has invited along singer and violinist, Susie Bishop and pianist and piano accordionist, Emily-Rose Šárkova to join her in what is going to be an amazing adventure. 

“Young performers of the caliber and versatility of Susie and Emily-Rose are a rarity”, Eriksson stated, “Classically trained here and in Europe, but equally at home across a range of genres including tango, world music and modern folk, they are part of a talented new generation of musicians who are renewing and re-vitalising fine music.”

Continue reading The Marais Project: Collusion at the Con: Preview


A wonderful combination- the exubrance of youth and a great passion for playing music. This photo was taken during the Sydney Youth Orchestra’s 1981 tour of Singapore.

It was a great pleasure to attend the 40th anniversary celebrations of the Sydney Youth Orchestra (SYO), founded by the late and great Peter Seymour.

The program opened with the Greeting Prelude by Stravinsky, a most apt to the occasion. This was followed by a Hayden Sinfonia Concertante in three movements, and then the major work: Mahler’s 6th Symphony.

The Greeting prelude was brief but fun, having been originally written to celebrate the 80th birthday of the conductor of the premiere performance of The Rite of Spring.

The Sinfonia Concertante gave the orchestra a chance to show off its technical proficiency and then some. This work is written for a quarter with orchestra; the four members of the quartet being cello, violin, oboe and bassoon. All four players were outstanding, but I must confess to having a real feel for the oboe in this piece. This work is particularly suited to a lazy Sunday afternoon and was performed professionally and with expertise. I really enjoyed it.

The major work was Mahler’s Symphony No 6. This large work in four movements requires a special instrument called, appropriately, a Mahler Drum. It looks like a large tree stump and is played with a wooden mallet. The sound is a great ‘thok’ like an axe felling a large tree. The drum was specifically commissioned for this performance. Consequently, I spent much of the performance waiting for ‘the drum’!

The SYO was augmented for this performance with several alumni. To give some idea of the scale of the augmentation, I counted 10 double basses, 8 French horns, 5 percussionists and 2 harps, not forgetting the celeste!

In the program notes, they mentioned that Richard Strauss thought the work a bit ‘overscored’. I must confess to be on Strauss’s side here and often find that with Mahler.

Nevertheless, the performance was excellent, with the large sweeping themes that Mahler is expert at writing, as well as his inventive and intensive orchestration, using every instrument in the orchestra; even if only twice, as in the case of the Mahler Drum! For Mahler lovers, this would have been a wonderful afternoon.

Congratulations to the SYO on its 40th. They are a really great group with impressive discipline and great technical expertise.

The Sydney Youth Orchestra’s 40th Anniversary Celebration took place on Sunday 3rd November within the Verbrugghen Hall at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.



Sydney Youth Orchestra performing with Teddy Tahu Rhodes in 2011

Some of Australia’s leading musicians will return to their roots, when the Sydney Youth Orchestra (SYO) stages its 40th birthday celebration concert this Sunday with a performance by players past and present. SYO has trained many of Australia’s top orchestral players over the past four decades, and more than twenty will return to the SYO ranks for the  concert.

Stravinsky’s Greeting Prelude, with its energetic variations on the “Happy Birthday theme”, opens what promises to be one of the most memorable performances in the SYO’s history.

Next, Haydn’s Sinfonia Concertante provides an opportunity to see some of our finest young musicians as soloists. This animated concertante pairs the strings played by Benjaimin Tjoa and Jonathan Bekes, with the wind soloists, Ennes Mehmedbasic and Harley Milano. All four musicians were finalists in the SYO 2012 concerto competition.

Then experience the power of Mahler’s Sixth Symphony as the SYO alumni, many now in Australia’s leading ensembles, join the current orchestra to perform what is sometimes known as Mahler’s ‘Tragic Symphony’. SYO’s Artistic Director and Chief Conductor, Max McBride promises an evening to remember.

The SYO’s 40th anniversary concert will take place this Sunday 3rd November at 3pm at the Verbugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music.