‘WONDER’ – VOX : SYDNEY PHILHARMONIA CHOIRS @ UTZON ROOM SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

Above : Composer Ella Macens, one of the several Australian composers featured in this programme. Photo credit : Darwin Gomez. Featured image : Vox members in rehearsal. Photo credit : Roland Kay-Smith.

Vox is the young adult choir under the umbrella of the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs. Its latest concert, ‘Wonder’, presented original choral works and arrangements for choir which explored the
joy and fragility of childhood.

This vivid hour of music was thoughtfully programmed and narrated by Vox’s conductor and musical director Elizabeth Scott is an asset to Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and wonder-ful musical parent to the talented vocalists of Vox.

The choir’s crisp and agile unison voice, a cappella precision, timbral diversity and impressive composite talents of Vox members in ensemble and solo roles were keenly showcased in this
compact concert event.

Through varied pieces and solo spots, joy or wonder were explored alongside tragedy and loss. The emotional predicaments leading to the ten composers’ creations were always developed in clear,
colourful and slick performances.

A joyous resilience and sharp momentum resulted from Vox’s refined attack and arsenal of technique with which to manipulate their choral sounds to instantly achieved the required pure and
intense emotions. Exquisite ensemble blend, controlled soft singing, instrumental-like vocal accompaniments and staggering control with flexibility of tone to emphasise even single syllables of text were the order of the afternoon.

The clever and entertaining vocal works of Martin Wesley-Smith should be more frequently programmed. Here, Vox promoted this composer with excerpts from his work Who Killed
Cock Robin (1979) for chamber choir. We also heard the Wesley-Smith’s conservation song Who Stopped the Rain?

All pieces were a delight and the choir devoured the intricate textural challenges and complex musical humour. ‘Freddie the Fish’ and ‘I’m a Caterpillar of Society’ were offered to us by Vox with candid and complete caricature as well as a modern child’s affinity with conservation.

Heartache in Eric Whitacre’s When David Heard was sung with a wealth of word painting across a well-handled myriad of languages. In this work one line of biblical text on King David losing his child
Absalom is repeated in several languages and musical guises. Vox delivered these intensities and linguistic challenges with skilful
musicianship and focussed sorrow, fulfilling the composer’s wish to convey sorrow and grief after a friend’s son died.

The return after that to English only for excerpts from John Rutter’s Five Childhood Lyrics featured continued clear text delivery despite the texture or vocal part structure. The choir were as
always sympathetic accompanists for their colleague’s solo voice in Rutter’s quirky manipulation of childhood
nursery rhymes. The requisite subtle atmosphere and balance in Rutter’s work was successfully supplied.

Profound sorrow and measured degrees of stillness were produced across the choral parts early in the hour as Vox sunk into the grief of Australian composer Nigel Westlake’s Nasce la gioia mia (My Joy is Born). Continued demonstration of precision, balance of parts and cutting-edge colouring of music and words across any language featured in this outpouring.

One exciting creative force in the programmed music was Ella Macens, a local composer who was present on the day. Her beautiful lullaby in Latvian text, Neviens Putninš was in good hands with Vox.

Contemporary choral devices which can challenge choirs were many in this work. Birdsong sound effect, a flux of shifting tensions and eventual resolutions, greater division of the
standard vocal parts and the chance to float with timeless modern lyricism were mastered like veritable childs-play by this athletic choir. The result was a memorable performance of Macens’ choral extension of the original Latvian tune.

The concert concluded with arrangements by Australians of pop songs ‘Fragile’ (Sting arr. Carl Crossin) and ‘Isn’t She Lovely’ (Stevie Wonder arr. Andrew Piper- from Idea of North). Again the pieces benefitted from contrasting individual  sounds of two soloists from the ranks of Vox. These vocalists were engagingly pitted against  the vocal band’s intricate accompaniment.

These familiar pop songs ended the concert with in exciting and innovative style. The success of these arrangements again owed as much to Vox’s virtuosic abilty to deliver lyrics and
emotion as well as be fit enough for the gymnastics required to bring the score to effortlessly
sounding life.

Throughout ‘Wonder’ we often watched the performances is joyful and justified wonder as Vox entertained us with prodigious talent, disciplined and timeless choral communication and an ability to create stunning sonic atmospheres.

SYDNEY CZECH & SLOVAK FILM FESTIVAL

Dendy Cinemas are once again hosting the Sydney Czech and Slovak Film Festival.

The festival begins on March 27 with the opening night film Jan Palach at Dendy’s Opera Quays. The evening will commence with a cocktail on arrival and the opening night party after the film. The rest of the festival will then take place at Dendy’s Newtown venue
.
This year’s festival features an impressive line up of films from Slovak and Czech Republic cinema. Highlights include, Jan Palach, the 2018 Czech Film Critics Winner, a reenactment of the last months in the life of a history student who ultimately became a part of history himself.

David Ondříček’s DUKLA 61, one of the most remarkable Czech TV productions of recent times examines the largest Czech mining disaster of the Communist era through the eyes of a man working at the mine along with his son.

In contrast to these big, epic presentations, there are a number of little gems, including BEAR WITH US and FREEDOM.

A sort of Czech Chekov, BEAR WITH US, is a charmer, a chimera Cherry Orchard, of family reunion and fallout, and a touch of the absurd. Continue reading SYDNEY CZECH & SLOVAK FILM FESTIVAL

BANGARRA DANCE THEATRE TO TOUR CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES

In its 30th anniversary year, Bangarra Dance Theatre will travel to Canada and the United States to present the company’s 27th international tour.

Throughout October-November, Bangarra will deliver its first major national tour of Canada, presenting an ambitious five-city tour to Brantford, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver, as well as an inter-cultural residency at Six Nations of the Grand River; the country’s largest First Nations reserve. To complete the tour, the company will perform in Chicago for the first time at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, known for its world-class programming and work as a cultural anchor in the United States.

International touring is an essential part of Bangarra’s role as ambassadors for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, underpinning the company’s commitment to sharing the strength and resilience of Australia’s First Peoples on the world stage.

SAM ALLCHURCH PICKS UP RICHARD GILL’S BATON WITH HIS DEBUT CONCERT

The Sydney Chamber Choir has has a new Music Director Sam Allchurch. This is after the recent passing of its long time and much loved Music Director Richard Gill. Sam is picking up the baton with his debut concert Saturday week, 30th March at the Great Hall, Sydney University. Music lovers are in for a treat. Mr Allchurch  shared his thoughts about the first program he has curated.

Taking on the mantle of musical director of Sydney Chamber is a very exciting prospect for a choral conductor – something akin to be handed the keys to a Rolls-Royce!  

To begin our time together, for my first concert as Music Director, I was keen to perform one of the great motets of JS Bach, Singet dem Herren ‘Sing to the Lord a new song’. This is a tour de force of virtuoso choir writing and one of my favourite pieces: joyful and ebullient in its outer movements and beautifully reflective in the slow middle movement. I was also drawn to Singet by the skill of the singers in Sydney Chamber Choir, one of the few ensembles in Australia who can tackle music of this complexity.

I designed a program of music which is about music. In some cases this is obvious – from the Italian Renaissance, Palestrina’s Kyrie from Missa ut re mi fa so la is based on the major scale and Elliott Gyger’s ut queant laxis picks up on the same idea.

In other cases, the link is more subtle – Joseph Twist’s How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? and William Byrd’s Quomodo cantabimus set singing as a means of consolation in difficult times – Twist in contemporary Australia and Byrd in 16th century England. Twist’s piece combines the Latin psalm text with poetry of Oodgeroo Noonuccal to make us think about the relationship between what we are singing and where we are singing it. Continue reading SAM ALLCHURCH PICKS UP RICHARD GILL’S BATON WITH HIS DEBUT CONCERT

NOLI ME TANGERE – INTERVIEW WITH ‘IBARRA’ AND ‘MARIA CLARA’

 

Miguel Castro (Ibarra)

NOLI ME TANGERE is a new Australian musical based on the novel, of the same name, by iconic Filipino nationalist and hero Dr. José Rizal, that inspired a nation during the tail end of the Spanish colonial period of the Philippines ‘The Noli’ (as it is called in the Philippines) was the “first major artistic expression of Asian defiance to European colonialism” and is now widely known as the great novel of the Philippines.

As we are at Riverside Theatres quite often and have been watching how many people pick up the flyer for the show to discuss it with curiosity and interest we wanted to bring our readers some insights into a new grand musical.  The Guide had the chance to put some questions to Miguel Castro who plays  Ibarra and Susana Downes, playing Maria Clara. Continue reading NOLI ME TANGERE – INTERVIEW WITH ‘IBARRA’ AND ‘MARIA CLARA’

EXHIBITION ON SCREEN : DEGAS : PASSION FOR PERFECTION

EXHIBITION ON SCREEN, the pioneering series of cinematic films about exhibitions, galleries and artists returns for a sixth season with Degas: Passion for Perfection, in cinemas across Australia from 6 June 2019. Directed by David Bickerstaff, the film journeys from a superb exhibition at The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, where the UK’s most extensive Degas collection is held, to Paris and Italy, where Degas spent his formative years and taught himself to paint.

DEGAS : PASSION FOR PERFECTION offers a unique insight into Degas’ personal and creative life, looking at his relationship with the impressionist movement, fascination with dance, and struggle with his eyesight, which in time would prevent him from making art altogether. Continue reading EXHIBITION ON SCREEN : DEGAS : PASSION FOR PERFECTION

CHICAGO COMING TO THE CAPITOL IN AUGUST

Sydney has secured the 2019 premiere of the multi-award winning, record breaking musical CHICAGO. Produced in Australia by John Frost and Suzanne Jones, this Australian production will premiere from August 20 at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre.

The sassy musical will star some of Australia’s most talented performers. Starring as the irreverent and determined Roxie Hart, is one of our most versatile entertainers, Natalie Bassingthwaighte and joining her as the empowered and glamorous Velma Kelly is musical theatre star Alinta Chidzey. Much adored Casey Donovan joins the duo as the tough and sassy prison warden Matron ‘Mama’ Morton.

“We are so thrilled to have this incredible Australian cast join us in bringing this New York institution back to Australia. CHICAGO has everything that people love about Broadway, a story of fame, fortune and all that jazz, one show-stopping number after another and the most amazing dancing you’ve ever seen as well as the most sizzling score” said producer John Frost.

Producer Suzanne Jones added, “We cannot wait to see Natalie, Alinta and Casey make these iconic roles their own whilst supported by a slick ensemble cast. We are so privileged to have the most exceptional performers joining us on this production who are sure to bring the razzle dazzle!”

The Kander & Ebb musical has been seen by over 31 million people worldwide in 36 countries and is the winner of six Tony Awards, two Olivier Awards and a Grammy Award. CHICAGO continues to play on Broadway and around the world in multiple languages and is the longest running American musical in Broadway and West End history.

Set amidst the razzle-dazzle decadence of the 1920s, CHICAGO is the story of Roxie Hart, a housewife and nightclub dancer who murders her on-the-side lover after he threatens to walk out on her. Desperate to avoid conviction, she dupes the public, the media and her rival cellmate, Velma Kelly, by hiring Chicago’s slickest criminal lawyer Billy Flynn to transform her malicious crime into a barrage of sensational headlines, the likes of which might just as easily be ripped from today’s tabloids.

Whether you’re looking for your first Broadway musical, whether you’ve seen the Academy Award®- winning film and want to experience the show live on stage, whether you’ve seen it before and want to recapture the magic or whether you are after a perfect night of pure entertainment, CHICAGO always delivers.

https://chicagothemusical.com.au/

DATES
Season: From August 20th (performance times vary – see Ticketmaster for specific shows)

For more about Chicago, visit https://www.capitoltheatre.com.au/chicago/
Find us on: YouTube | Facebook

MONKEY BAA’S ‘POSSUM MAGIC’ COMING SOON

Monkey Baa, the award-winning theatre company for young people, is proud to present a brand new stage adaptation of POSSUM MAGIC, based on the picture book by Mem Fox and Julie Vivas.

The show will premiere at the ARA Darling Quarter Theatre on 30 th March before embarking on a national tour of 62 venues throughout 2019.

POSSUM MAGIC has captivated and enchanted young readers for generations and this magical new production promises an unforgettable experience for children and adults alike.

Lovingly adapted by Monkey Baa creative directors Eva Di Cesare and Sandra Eldridge, the show is directed by Eldridge and stars Claudette Clarke, Sarah Greenwood, Alex Packard and Michael Yore.

Monkey Baa has assembled an astounding team of creatives to help bring the book to life including production designer Emma Vine, Sydney Theatre Award-winning composer and sound designer Nate
Edmondson, and magic and illusion designer Adam Mada .

Director Sandra Eldridge said, “It’s tremendously exciting to bring one of Australia’s most loved iconic stories to the stage, and we are honoured to have the support of Mem and Julie. With this
show, we really wanted to highlight how important it is for young people to find their own voice and visibility, and for those who are older to encourage and support their journey because it leads us
somewhere new too.”

Author Mem Fox said, “Back in 1978, when I wrote a children’s story as a university assignment, I’d have died of joy if I’d known it would eventually become POSSUM MAGIC. In 2019, the magic goes on.
POSSUM MAGIC is a now play! And although I’m as old as Grandma Poss, I’m as excited as a child.”

https://www.monkeybaa.com.au/

JESS AND JOE FOREVER – SOUL SOOTHING THEATRE

Production images: Kate Williams

As they watch for us to enter there’s an electricity between the two figures eagerly waiting in the sand by the swings as the sea swells quietly in the background.  Jess and Joe are ready.  They have rehearsed their presentation, have worked hard on what they will show us and “in this moment” they will share a beautiful, soul-soothing story to lift the spirits of anyone who is there.  JESS AND JOE FOREVER by Zoe Cooper is a sand gem of a production which shines and glimmers in the tuck of the basement at Belvoir Street Theatre.

Jess and Joe have a burning desire to tell their story.  Of how they met at approximately 9 ¾ and where their tween love takes them.  She has an au pair and a holiday home in Italy, he is a bit of a battler on his Dad’s farm.  She is a bit tubby and he is physically shy, too.  He is practical and she poetic; she chats and he reacts.  For our benefit they will act out how they met, became friends, and the individual tales that happened away from each other that made their time together so important. Continue reading JESS AND JOE FOREVER – SOUL SOOTHING THEATRE

AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA : BEETHOVEN AND PROKOFIEV

 

A most glorious concert full of superb playing by the ACO under the guest leadership of Lorenza Borrani who was very stylish in elegant black culottes.

What was interesting to note is that all three works were not originally written for a string orchestra.

First we heard PROKOFIEV’s Violin Sonata No.1 in F minor, arranged for violin and strings by Borrani. It was given a powerful, passionate performance. The cellos and basses generally took the piano parts, with the violas acting as the middle of the keyboard, the violins on top.

The first movement opened sombrely and sorrowfully and featured an eloquent, almost heartbreaking solo by Borrani. The cellos and double bass rumbled in agreement with Borrani’s anguished statement, the violins then joined the discussion. The music became shimmering and floating yet sharp and spiky. This then changed to a somewhat lighter mood and melody that swirled and pulsated.

The second movement had a very energetic opening by the cellos and double bass, with a rather ominous march like tempo.
Borrani was fiery and defiant with sharp, spiky flurries. An angry discussion developed between the two sections of the Orchestra with Borrani attempting to be a peacemaker. A relentless driven rhythm took us to the dramatic ending. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA : BEETHOVEN AND PROKOFIEV

ALLY and POLYMORPHIC ORKESTRA DOUBLE BILL

Family-friendly venue, Lazybones Lounge is hosting an exciting double bill of new Afro-Peruvian Jazz group ALLY performing with well-established Jazz trio Polymorphic Orkestra on Sunday April 14th, 2019.

ALLY will kick off the evening in style at 6.30pm. Ally uses a blend of Afro-Peruvian music and jazz to create a rich fusion of African rhythms, Latin melodies and modern jazz harmony. Their music explores the meeting point of ancient and new cultures and the polyrhythmic tension that rises from overlaying contrasting music structures.

Afro-Peruvian Ensemble ALLY are:
Eamon Dilworth: Trumpet Gai Bryant: Saxophones and Flute
Jonathan Cohen: Piano Stamatis Valacos: Double Bass
Giorgio Rojas and Steve Marin: percussion

For audio samples please go to: 
http://www.gaibryantspareparts.com/ally

“There are plenty of fine trumpeters in the world, but Eamon Dilworth’s own place in it stands distinctive ” — Barry O’Sullivan Presenter of A Jazz Hour – Fine Music 102.5fm

Polymorphic Orkestra will then hit the stage. Each Polymorphic performance is unique however some do share themes. They play freely but there is always melodic and harmonic interplay with a large dash of rhythmic invention.

Polymorphic Orkestra are:
Lee McIver: Trumpet / Flugelhorn / Laptop /
Ed Goyer:Vibraphone / Mallet Kat / Samples
Ed Rodrigues: Drums / Percussion / Samples

For audio and video samples please go to: 
http://www.polymorphicorkestra.com

“[Polymorphic Orkestra] creates contemporary improvisation of a very high order-not only does the listener experience the joy of spontaneous creation by the players but also, and this is I think pretty unusual, you are left with memorable snippets of tunes and melodies that stay with you long after the music ends.” — Chris Baber, Jazz Views

All are welcome to come along and enjoy fabulous artists performing culturally diverse Australian original music. Doors are open from 5.30pm with food, including a Sunday roast, available from the restaurant.

Tickets are on sale now through http://lazyboneslounge.com.au and available at the door. If you have questions, please contact the venue on 0450 008 563. For more information contact Gai Bryant on 0415 063 662 or email: gaibryant@hotmail.com

The price is $15 Full and $10 Concessions & Students.

DATE FOR THE DIARY
Sunday April 14th 6.30pm-9.30pm at Lazybones, 294 Marrickville Road, Marrickville. The entrance to Lazybones is on Illawarra Road.

For more about ALLY & Polymorphic Orkestra Double Bill, visit http://www.lazyboneslounge.com.au
Find us on: YouTube | Facebook

SYDNEY REVIEWS Screen + Stage + Performing Arts + Literary Arts + Visual Arts + Cinema + Theatre