All posts by Toni Adams

Toni loves classical music, especially opera and other ‘integrated’ art forms. Toni trained as a pianist but has pursued this only for pleasure in adult life. She has also sung in amateur choirs in Australia and France and has a strong appreciation of liturgical music, ancient and modern. Toni also enjoys theatre, especially Shakespeare and 18th century comedies, and film, including French films. She also likes theatre sports.

NELSON MASS (MASSES FOR DREAMING AND TROUBLED TIMES) @ CITY RECITAL HALL

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This was the final concert for 2016 for both the Sydney Chamber Choir and the Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra (formerly known as orchestra seventeen88). The combination of these two groups, both under the direction of Richard Gill, delivered a wonderful evening’s entertainment to a large audience.

Ross Edwards. Pic by Bridget Elliott.
Ross Edwards. Pic by Bridget Elliott.

The concert opened with Ross EdwardsMass of the Dreaming ‘Missa Alchera’. This was performed a capella by the Sydney Chamber Choir. As a first time listener to this work, I was blown away by its beauty and, as always with Ross Edwards’ work, its deep roots in Australian culture.

The opening Kyrie used the basses to great effect to draw on the drone sound of a didgeridoo, which set the scene, and this led to a dialogue between the male and female voices. The Gloria set a strong rhythmic pace with sonorous syncopation which was very effective. The Sanctus and then the Benedictus captured our minds with sonorous yet delicate harmonies in a beautiful canon. Continue reading NELSON MASS (MASSES FOR DREAMING AND TROUBLED TIMES) @ CITY RECITAL HALL

LEICHHARDT COUNCIL PRESENTS THE CELLISTS OF THE METROPOLITAN ORCHESTRA

tmo- secondThis was a short concert presented to a full audience on a glorious sunny Sunday afternoon, which is a tribute to the growing fan base of the TMO, which very definitely includes me.

The selection of works written or scored for eight cellos ranged from Handel to ABBA via Ravel, Arvo Paert, Mark Grandison and Gustavo Tavares!

The highlight was the world premiere of a new work, Cellar Door, written especially for this group by Mark Grandison who conducted this piece as well. Continue reading LEICHHARDT COUNCIL PRESENTS THE CELLISTS OF THE METROPOLITAN ORCHESTRA

OPERANTICS PRESENTS MANSFIELD PARK @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE NORTH SYDNEY

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Production photography by John Kilkeary

It was with much interest that I went to see the Australian premiere  production of MANSFIELD PARK, a chamber opera adaptation of Jane Austen’s timeless novel. I am happy to report that it was wonderful! A really fun night!

The adaptation by Jonathon Dove with libretto by Alasdair Middleton sticks closely to the original story by Jane Austen, but suppresses some side plots with Tom the older brother etc. The only issue I had with the selected parts was that one of the love interests (Mr Yates) is mentioned but never seen, even though he plays a key part at the end. However, this did not detract from my enjoyment of the performance. Continue reading OPERANTICS PRESENTS MANSFIELD PARK @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE NORTH SYDNEY

SYDNEY CHAMBER CHOIR PRESENTS CARMINA BURINA @ CITY RECITAL HALL, ANGEL PLACE

 

Carmina Burina

The Sydney Chamber Choir delivered its first concert under the direction of Richard Gill OAM to an enthusiastic audience. Richard Gill needs no introduction as his contributions to music and especially music education are well known. The choir was in beautiful voice and the program was a wonderful mix of the very old, the very new and the in-between.

The first half comprised  Guillaume de Machaut’s 14th century work Messe de Notre Dame, interleaved with three new compositions from young Australian up and coming composers. Each brief interlude piece was different, yet each related to the prime text of the Messe. The contrast of the modern interludes with the classic polyphonic writing of the Messe illustrated the changes in music over the last 600 years and reflected the changes in taste and texture of music from then to now.

Continue reading SYDNEY CHAMBER CHOIR PRESENTS CARMINA BURINA @ CITY RECITAL HALL, ANGEL PLACE

THE METROPOLITAN ORCHESTRA PRESENTS STRING SERENADES @ EUGENE GOOSENS HALL

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The Metropolitan Orchestra (TMO) opened their 2016 concert series at the Eugene Goossens Hall on 20 February with a delightful program of string works by Rojas, Dvorak and Tchaikovsky.

This wonderful orchestra has a faithful band of followers, which adds an additional level of conviviality to all their concerts.

The opening item was a new revision of Little Serenade for Strings by Daniel Rojas. This exciting work features strong Afro-Cuban elements with a beautiful tangoesque second movement and percussive final movement which involves the whole body of each player. The third movement featured lyrical cello sections supported by the exquisite string playing of the whole orchestra. Continue reading THE METROPOLITAN ORCHESTRA PRESENTS STRING SERENADES @ EUGENE GOOSENS HALL

Operantics presents Cosi Fan Tutte @ The Independent Theatre

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Production photography by John Kilkeary

This chamber production of COSI FAN TUTTE was performed by a group of young opera students.  This gave it a freshness that was most enjoyable.

The opera was reset to modern Sydney with the main characters living on the North Shore (the boys) or in the Eastern Suburbs (the girls). The surtitles were written to reflect these changes. The set was simple, but worked, and the accompanying pianist, Nathaniel Kong, was excellent. Continue reading Operantics presents Cosi Fan Tutte @ The Independent Theatre

On The Harmful Effects of Tobacco

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Michel Robin delivered a memorable performance in this inter-disciplinary retelling of Anton Chekhov’s quirky one Act play

This Theatre Des Bouffes Du Nord production combined a quirky Chekhov one act play with classical French comedic theatre techniques along with powerful classical music to bring off a great night’s entertainment.

The quality of the musicianship was superb – Floriane Bonnani (Violin and Original Concept), Muriel Ferraro (Soprano) and Emmanuelle Swiercz (Piano) set a high standard for their playing of the Bach, Tchaikovsky and Berio pieces.   Continue reading On The Harmful Effects of Tobacco

Toni’s pick for 2014- The Elixir Of Love

Elixir Of Love-secondAlthough I saw many wonderful shows and operas in the year, my favourite show of the year was THE ELIXIR OF LOVE at the Opera House.

The production with its Australian setting at the start of WWI, was just hilarious. This production dates from 2001, but is still fabulous and well worth reviving.

I loved the use of corrugated iron to build the sets, even the horses and the shepherd’s dog, who appeared to be a corrugated iron kelpie! Continue reading Toni’s pick for 2014- The Elixir Of Love

Viennese Titans @ Sydney Grammar

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Flowers and plenty of acclaim for Georgia Browne, the concert’s outstanding soloist and prinicipal flautist. Pics by Nico Jonker

Orchestraseventeen88 is an orchestra which has been established to present the classical repertoire from the late Rococo to the Romantic era in Historically Informed Performance (HIP) style.  This means that the music is played on period instruments, in period style and using musical pitch relevant to each era and piece as well.

The Artistic Director of this new period instrument ensemble is Richard Gill OAM. For this Company’s first concert, eloquently titled AN EVENING WITH THE VIENNESE TITANS Racheel Beesley was the Concertmaster, Benjamin Bayl was the Conductor and Georgia Browne was the soloist and principal flautist.

The evening’s program consisted of three pieces:  The Creatures of Prometheus (Beethoven), Concerto No 1 for Flute and Orchestra in G Major (Mozart) and the very long Symphony in C Major (Schubert); that is, from an orchestral development point of view, Beethoven, pre-Beethoven and post-Beethoven. Continue reading Viennese Titans @ Sydney Grammar

SYO’s 40th BIRTHDAY CONCERT

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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.

 

TMO’s 5th ANNIVERSARY CONCERT

The Metropolitan Orchestra in a celebratory mood
The Metropolitan Orchestra in a celebratory mood

The Metropolitan Orchestra (TMO) is an orchestra of people who play for the love of it – mostly unpaid. This dedication and enthusiasm translated into their playing and made the evening a very pleasant one, despite some venue issues with car parking, lack of signage, interrogator lighting in the eyes of the audience etc.

The program consisted of two well-loved fifth symphonies: Beethoven’s and Tchaikovsky’s.

Beethoven was at the start of the romantic era and Tchaikovsky represents its height.  It is easy for us to not realise how avant-garde and innovative Beethoven was. Symphony orchestras were never the same again after him, and all those who came after, including Tchaikovsky, built on his foundations.

This was the first time I had been in the Eugene Goossens auditorium. Despite its relatively small size, the venue has great acoustics and could well take the brass etc. of this orchestra and its chosen program. There was also a slight variation to the standard disposition of the orchestra, which worked well with this group in this space.

Both pieces being so well known, I will focus on the things I noticed about the TMO’s playing. Firstly, there was the freshness and enthusiasm of their playing. You could see they were really enjoying themselves, including the conductor! It seemed to me that the Scherzo movement was played a bit slower and more deliberately than one often hears it, but that was no problem really and encouraged me to really tune into it and not take it for granted. All the players were very professional, but I noticed the lead oboe in particular. Her sound was really beautiful, and, also it seemed to me her technique excellent (I am not myself an oboe player).

The second item was the Tchaikovsky 5th. Again, I noted the lovely oboe, but also some nice bassoon and French horn playing coming through. The Andante movement had a great cello lead and also made effective use of the clarinets and a lovely horn solo. The finale brought us to a triumphant finish and some great use of the timpani.

This was my first hearing of the TMO and I will certainly look forward to their 2014 Season. I was sitting next to some fans and found out that the TMO already have a regular following – in fact the concert was booked out. For those of you who like cruising, the TMO will be part of a cruise experience later next year on Radiance of the Seas. Sounds like a great holiday to me.

The Metropolitan Orchestra’s (TMO) performed their Fifth Anniversary Celebration Concert at the  at the Eugene Goossens Hall, ABC Centre, Ultimo on Saturday 2nd November, 2013.