Annabelle Drumm grew up in a theatre family and has worked out front and behind the scenes of Arts, Media and Entertainment throughout her working life. She was a professional Performing Artist herself for 9 years, ran a professional Dance Company for 6 years, built the Performing Artists Booking Agency over 15 years representing talent from Australia and New Zealand, then spent 9 years as a Creative Business Coach helping Musicians and other creative professionals build their career and business. Annabelle is currently on the Arts and Culture Advisory panel to the Inner West Council and has been broadcasting for Fine Music 102.5FM since 2015. She is passionate about supporting Performing Artists to design the career they desire with a sustainable, resilient audience.
Schubert – String quartet no 12, D 703, Quartettsatz
Mozart – Quintet in A, K 581
Beethoven – String quartet no 13, Op 130
Presented by the Sydney Mozart Society, the Flinders Quartet were back in town celebrating their 20th year of making magical music. There was a good turnout at the Concourse, Chatswood with members of the Society and long standing fans of the Quartet.
The Quartet makes the most of their brand astutely expanding into areas beyond the concert series. Along with commissioning new chamber works from Australian composers each year, they regularly mentor for the Austrian Youth Orchestra and Victorian Amateur Chamber Music Society. Last year they were resident artists at Footscray City College and annually they run their outstanding Composer Development Program. This is where the composers of selected works are invited to workshop with the Quartet along with a composer mentor to create a concert-ready chamber work. Many composers have spoken about what a wonderful opportunity it is to finally hear works they have created – often just at home on their computers – in the concert hall with life breathed into the notes by this superb quartet. It’s great exposure for a new composer and a clever way for the quartet to build publicity for all involved. Continue reading FLINDERS QUARTET @ THE CONCOURSE→
A big crowd gathered last Sunday afternoon for the performance of Elysian Fields, an off-shoot from the Marais Project created by Artistic Director Jenny Eriksson, composer / pianist Matt McMahon and Sax-specialist Matt Keegan. Being a part of the infamous “A Prelude in Tea” series at The Independent Theatre drew many regular sweet tooth subscribers to the large cake buffet but, there were plenty of new faces attending as well.
The stage featured a unique mix of classic contemporary band instruments (drums, bass, sax and keys) mixed with violin and Eriksson’s stunning electric viola da gamba. The ensemble took a relaxed meander through a diverse program from re-arranged folk songs, jazz and new works. The starring piece was a World Premier written especially for the group “I dreamed I moved among the Elysian Fields” based on a poem of the same name by Pulitzer Prize winning poet Edna St Vincent Millay. The composer Gordon Kerry is much in demand in the classical music world and was there to read the poem before his composition began. The piece flowed in a dream like creation expertly interpreted by singer Suzie Bishop and was very well received. Continue reading ELYSIAN FIELDS : A SINGULAR PATH→
Returning to Australia is War Horse, the smash hit and Tony award winning music drama from the National Theatre of Great Britain. Originally based on a best selling novel written in 1982 by Michael Morpurgo, the play has a fairly even mix of performers on stage where about half are human characters and half are puppeteers for the extraordinary life size puppets created by the Handspring Puppet Company in South Africa.
It’s clear much time and attention has been spent studying the mannerisms and behaviour of the animals (horses and a comical goose) to provide realistic reactions from subtle nuzzling through to charging at a gallop. (Whoever would have thought that horses’ ears could express so much.) Wonderful puppeteer work that is rarely seen on the big stage. The program lists all performers alphabetically so even the principal roles get no extra attention.Continue reading WAR HORSE @ THE LYRIC THEATRE→
Opera Australia brings out David McVicar’s production of Faust for the third season – second time in Sydney. Revived by Shane Placentino the audience has so much to see within the production. There are bound to be new details and interpretations to spot if you saw it the first time around. With deep pitched sets there is plenty of room for multiple layers of action. The lighting design by Paule Constable keeps a constant darkened theme where any number of ghouls and satanist ballet dancers may be hiding. Superb costumes by Brigitte Reiffenstuel add some colour and stark contrast in many places.
Illusions abound when you think you know what you see and suddenly find it’s not at all what was expected includes us in the deceit Faust himself is experiencing.
In the title role from Italy is Ivan Magrì who has spent the majority of his career in Europe and South America. A beautiful tone and great strength, Magrì was held back a little due to illness on opening night and tentative in pitching his high notes. Give him a few days and he’s bound to be back to true form. It didn’t stop the audience from showing him their appreciation.Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA PRESENTS ‘FAUST’ @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE→
Boccherini – Flute Quintet in D major (Las Parejas) op 19
Haydn – String Quartet no 62 in C major (The Emperor) op 76
Mozart – String Quartet no 21 in D major (First Prussian) K575
Haydn – Symphony no 100 in G major (The Military) Hob I:100
Skye McIntosh, Matt Greco, James Eccles, Anton Baba, Melissa Farrow
Planning performances in Sydney’s mid-Summer would normally be a safe bet. Who would have guessed this weekend would deliver a cyclone and the wettest day the city has had in 20 years? Despite the challenges of wading their way to the theatre, a stalwart crowd arrived soggy but smiling to enjoy a matinee performance of the Australian Haydn Ensemble’s opening to the 2020 season “Emperors and Armies”. Drenched socks were soon forgotten for the Ensemble provided a fabulous, beautifully crafted program.Continue reading AUSTRALIAN HAYDN ENSEMBLE : EMPERORS AND ARMIES→
Opening night and the theatre was full to the rafters, peppered with well known faces of Australian showbiz and cabaret. Bernadette Robinson brings her sensational one-woman show back to Australia after success on London’s West End at the Ambassadors Theatre through 2019.
This season in Sydney is the final leg of her Australian tour including Melbourne and Geelong. A specialist in impersonating great female diva voices, Robinson has been steadily perfecting her skills over many years. Footage found of her performing in 2005 and 2012 show she was brilliant then but the performance tonight upstages herself. Surely the sign of a performer who never stops raising the bar.Continue reading SONGS FOR NOBODIES @ THE PLAYHOUSE→
On Saturday 11th January 2020 Opera Australia launched their new season of CARMEN one of the best known operas in the western world. Bizet’s CARMEN was adapted from a book of the same name written 30 years before by French dramatist Prosper Mérimée.
Merimee had adapted a story told to him by a Countess friend and based the book around Don José who is different from the opera in that he has already committed multiple murders. Not an innocent by any means but a short tempered and violent man. Carmen in the book is also far more loose offering sexual favours to get herself and her friends out of all sorts of trouble and marrying Don José after he kills her husband.
The Concert Hall at Sydney Opera House was filled with expectant fans waiting on the return of young Hungarian pianist Peter Bence and they were not disappointed. Bence toured to Australia in 2018 for the first time. He has built a huge following on Youtube and Facebook over the past 5 years drawing more than 2 million followers and clocking up over 800 million views of his music videos. Most are his own arrangements of covers from famous pop and rock tunes plus a smattering of his own compositions. Australia is the close of his tour “The Awesome Piano” which began in September in Turkey, trailing through Europe, Russian and the USA. The title of the tour will also be used for his upcoming debut album, already much in demand.Continue reading PETER BENCE : THE AWESOME PIANO→
There was a dramatic finish to the 2019 season for Woollahra Philharmonic last weekend with a full orchestra crammed into the performance space in the program “All for Love”. As Guest Conductor, Thomas Tsai took the podium. He has previously been engaged as Chief Conductor of the SBS Radio and Television Youth Orchestra, also Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the North Sydney Youth Symphony. Musicality is not something that can be taught like a skill. It comes from within and this conductor’s musicality is outstanding. Tsai directed most of the program from memory drawing the orchestra through the works, without need of a score, bringing out the strengths of each section.
The orchestra launched into the program with Bizet’s L’Arlesienne Suite which was originally written as incidental music for a since-forgotten play. The music lives on and nowadays it is hard to imagine such magnificent music being a framework for anything else, it stands so well on it own. Flowing between excitement and gentleness Tsai drew the best from the players, stretching their interpretative abilities. Great work from this wonderful mash up of up and coming musicians, teachers and veteran professionals.Continue reading WOOLLAHRA PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA GIVES ‘ALL FOR LOVE’→
Carriageworks is where you’ll currently find the last of the 2019 series “New Breed” from Sydney Dance Company, a program nurturing and showcasing the talents of up and coming choreographers. This year features the works of company dancers Ariella Casu and Davide di Giovanni plus independents Lauren Langlois and Josh Mu. The works were unique and diverse rounding out the year like a teaser for more to come.
Opening with Davide di Giovanni’s piece “In Walked Bud” the lighting was high contrast with stark white spotlights used intermittently from different directions across a black space. Dancers in monotone costumes interplayed or worked solo around a carved up version of the jazz tune written in 1947 by Thelonius Monk of the same name. It was a powerful piece beautifully playing with light and dark.
Growing at an extraordinary rate, the Australian Haydn Ensemble began in 2012 and already has an enviable list of corporate and individual patrons. They’ve had a busy year with eight main featured concerts each performed from Southern Highlands, through Sydney, Canberra and on to Newcastle. Also a Regional tour at the beginning of the year.
The Ensemble chose to complete the 2019 season with a bright and bold program at the Verbruggen Hall starring Guest Director Midori Seiler. Raised in Salzburg, Seiler trained around Europe with specialists of Baroque through to contemporary music. Spending more than 20 years with Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin as player and one of their concertmasters, she has since gone on to work with orchestras such as the Budapest Festival Orchestra, Tafelmusik Toronto and Concerto Köln. She also received the Saxon Mozart Prize for her generous contributions as player, tutor and pedagogue around many cities in Europe.Continue reading AUSTRALIAN HAYDN ENSEMBLE : MIDORI AND MOZART→
Many performing artists, be they amateur or professional, often take a while to settle in to their performing space in front of the audience. There may be nerves, the odd note lacking in surety, a challenge to the pitch or tempo issues. The Sydney Chamber Choir however, is not one of those groups. From the very first note this group was sure, spot on pitch and holding an incredible unity of sound. Their rich, golden tone filled the Verbruggen Hall, making the most of the great acoustics and the audience was spell bound. Absolutely outstanding.
The program titled “Time and Place” featured contemporary music of all living composers with the exception of one. Choral music from America, UK, Canada and Australia threaded nicely together, each piece chosen with care. Program notes point out that sound can only exist in time while it is sounding – be it live or recorded. It travels through space from the vocal chords to ear drums thus, both time and space, or place, create the environment to give and receive the sounds of the concert. “We have the privilege, the responsibility and the joy of turning those marks on the page back into living music, for all of us to experience together, here and now.”
The first three items were gently delivered with great focus and poignancy. More diversity came towards the end of the first half in “The Passing of the Year” with 7 varied movements, some very complicated in their structure. More dark than light but still very appealing. This was accompanied by pianist Luke Byrne who connected well with Musical Director Sam Allchurch.
The second half held some surprises. A west Irish ballad held many parts – maybe 8 parts – written specifically for Sydney Chamber Choir by former member Clare Maclean. Next was a deeply moving, recent work “Stāvi Stīvi, Ozolin “ (Stand strong, Oak tree) by young composer Ella Macens who was there to receive the applause of an appreciative audience and choir. This flowed effortlessly into two songs from American composer Morten Lauridsen, concluding the concert with “Invocation and Dance” by David Conte including full choir, Luke Byrne and Kate Johnston as four hands on the piano and two percussionists Adam Jeffrey and Trudy Leopard. Percussion started a little too loud so we lost the choir for a short while but soon softened to a more rounded presentation.
Great applause from the audience for what has to be one of the most outstanding choirs in the country. Bravo.
Check out upcoming concerts at their website: http://sydneychamberchoir.org/
The composer Rossini is so frequently linked to Italian opera that it is often forgotten he spent several years in Paris writing operas with French libretti. It was a strange time politically. The French Revolution had come and gone and now, France had a king again, Louis XVIII. Rossini had been offered a lucrative contract with the French Government in 1824 but, soon after his arrival in Paris, Louis passed away. This suddenly made the first project for Rossini to be a work celebrating the coronation of Louis’ successor Charles X. It was the perfect occasion to show off Rossini’s extraordinary talents but to also showcase a large cast of the best singers in the industry. Il Viaggio a Reims (The Journey to Reims) was a comic drama – his last opera in Italian – about a group of socialites heading to the very same coronation, getting waylaid on route and deciding to give up on the coronation. Instead they would head to Paris where the bigger parties would be happening soon thereafter.
For fun, the artists were cast in roles from different countries where they could make a farce of cultural stereotypes. At the same time they could poke fun at the lack of action from a bored nobility and bourgeoisie stuck mid way between cities in a hotel who couldn’t be bothered with formal ceremonies such as a coronation. 14 soloists were required to sing the virtuoso parts and Rossini meant for the work to only be performed 4 times, before dismantling the score and using it’s material for future projects.Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA PRESENTS ‘IL VIAGGIO A REIMS’→
Jealousy, yearning, cunning plans and gumboots are in store in the latest workshop opera from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
Combining singers, musicians and staff, the Conservatorium put together a clean, fun piece of theatre ideal for showcasing the stJars of tomorrow. This time they chose La Finta Giardiniera or ‘The disguised gardener’. This was a very early opera written by Mozart when he was 18 years old as a commission for the Munich Carnival 1775. Originally with an Italian libretto, Mozart changed it a few years later to German. The original Italian version was re-discovered 200 years later in the 1970’s. An abridged version of the Italian original has been used this production.Continue reading LA FINTA GIARDINIERA @ SYDNEY CONSERVATORIUM OF MUSIC→
After several Opera Australia productions where the technology has dominated the artists, it was a great relief to see Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro with all technology hidden. The visuals in this production will take your breath away from the period costumes to elegant scenery and exquisite lighting. It’s the ultimate high class production design and perfect backdrop to some of the most loved music in the classical repertoire.
Jenny Tiramani’s costumes and sets showcase her marvellous knowledge after years of working with London’s Globe Theatre. The fabrics looked authentic with subtle colour mixes which are just stunning. The Marriage of Figaro storyline features a stark contrast between nobility and the servants of the house. Tiramani clothed the servants in variations of warm blues, white and cream while the nobility wore black, red and rich gold satins with lace and split sleeves. It was unusual to see the cast in 17th Century clothes (think 3 Musketeers) rather than the 18th Century clothes of the time of Mozart but worked perfectly. Makeup was kept very basic with natural colours for all the cast and the opening scene featuring lighting strongly directed from low to the ground as if the sun was just rising on an extraordinary day.Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA : THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO→
The Hourglass Ensemble met for one final time this year in the Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House to present ‘Romantic Springtime’. So refreshing to see them decked out in Spring florals rather than the ever traditional black clothing. The group is well known for their philosophy of presenting music you don’t have to try too hard to appreciate. It’s a relief to find a group that doesn’t overly challenge themselves with work they need to strain to complete. Instead, the music flowed easily leaving plenty of room for interpretation. With a mix of Romantic chamber pieces and contemporary Australian composers, the program made for relaxed listening with the ever changing Sydney Harbour glinting in the background.Continue reading THE HOURGLASS ENSEMBLE : ROMANTIC SPRINGTIME @ THE UTZON ROOM→
Australia is very proud of its local artists who shine abroad, then come back to gift us with performance. Sarah Grunstein is a pianist who has done just that. Graduating from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, she moved to Juilliard School in New York at the age of 20 to pursue her advanced studies. Since launching her career she has performed around Europe, UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand. Highlights have included personal invitation to perform for Prince Charles and performing the complete Well Tempered Clavier at the London Purcell Room.
October and November this year Grunstein returns home to Australia for 2 recitals in the Utzon room, Sydney Opera House. The first concert featured Beethoven’s Sonata no 15 op 28 (often called the Pastorale), Chopin’s Sonata no 2 op 35 which includes his famous Funeral March and Schumann’s Carnaval op 9. Continue reading SARAH GRUNSTEIN RECITAL @ THE UTZON ROOM→
When you hear “Requiem” in the classical music scene outside the church, usually composer names that come to mind are Verdi and Mozart, possibly Berlioz or Lloyd Webber for modern music fans. Not often will Antonin Dvorák come to mind though. Coming from the Romantic period (late 1800s) Dvorák is better known for his New World Symphony, Dumky Trio and very popular Slavonic Dances. He was however, a devout Catholic and, for one of his many conducting invitations to visit Great Britain (8 visits in 7 years), he was commissioned to write a Requiem for the Triennial Music Festival in Birmingham 1891.
The work was a huge success, not surprisingly, as he had already become a celebrity in the UK with a huge following of fans just waiting to see what he would come up with next. Despite this initial success, Dvorák’s Requiem did not gain the long term following of those of Verdi and Mozart but, when it is performed, it is very well received as it was tonight.Continue reading SYDNEY PHILHARMONIA CHOIRS : DVORAK REQUIEM→
A full house once again greeted the Woollahra Philharmonic Orchestra in their favourite venue the St Columba Uniting Church in Woollahra, Sydney. It is quite a square space with a cosy, intimate feel and lovely acoustics. The audience can abandon the main seating and place themselves along the choir seats on the sides of the performance space if they want to be close to the orchestra. It’s a great way to introduce children to the individual instruments.
Starting with a pared down group of just 15 players, they began with Eight Instrumental Miniatures by Stravinsky. This is a quirky little collection of pieces originally written as 5 finger exercises for the piano which were later individually orchestrated. With nimble rhythms, the majority of the miniatures were performed by woodwind, often finishing when you wouldn’t expect them to, as is a signature characteristic of Stravinsky’s writing. Continue reading WOOLLAHRA PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA : HEIGHT OF SPRING→
Audiences are in for a unique experience in Opera Australia’s production of GHOST SONATA. Dressed warm and casual, head for the Opera Centre in Elizabeth Street and then down the side alley to the company’s Scenery Workshop. Inside the performance space is the most extraordinary set. A heavily raked stage with a large glass panel of similar size suspended at a perpendicular angle. Designer Emma Kingsbury and Lighting designer John Rayment have been given great freedom to build a set inspired by the original production where illusions fade in and out, trapdoors open in the floor which are seen as windows of a house with people looking out when viewed in the looking glass. There’s a sunny garden under the table and funeral shroud in the corner for anyone who fancies knocking themselves off.
Director Greg Eldridge made a brilliant job of using the set for maximum effect, a particularly challenging job with the audience sitting so close. Performers were in period costume and, all but two, with ghostly white faces.
The story of GHOST SONATA is based on a play by Swedish playwright August Strindberg who was nationally renowned for his highly controversial and intelligent works. He was a prolific writer through the late 1800s and Ghost Sonata was inspired by Beethoven’s Piano Sonata no 17, later known as ‘The Tempest’. Strindberg was often writing based on his real life experiences. Ghost Sonata was based around the “hell” that can be achieved within the family home through abuse, neglect and lack of communication.Continue reading GHOST SONATA : AUGUST STRINDBERG @ HIS DARKEST→
The Sydney Philharmonia Choirs presented a cabaret style show “In the Mood” last Friday evening at the Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House. Audience members may be well familiar with seeing the Choirs numbering in the hundreds spread across the choir seats at Opera House Concert Hall with full orchestra in attendance but, this time was a very different scene.
Set up as a 1930s-40s radio show for the ABC, just over 30 singers were set in semi-circle rows decorated with big band music stand banners of the show name. Downstage were three supporting musicians of Gary Daley piano/accordion, Mark Harris double bass and Loretta Palmeiro saxophone/flute/clarinet. Would have loved to see a snare drum with brushes to complete the group.
The radio show theme was carried through with large “APPLAUSE” signs to which the audience loved responding. Also an “On Air” light box stage left and home made megaphones. Doubling in the role of MC was Conductor Brett Weymark who clearly enjoyed introducing the numbers in a classic, old style radio voice including an hilarious ABC news update. Improvised quips and witticisms came very naturally – which were funnier than the script – and the audience loved him.
The performance varied greatly in musical eras from American Songbook standards of the 1940s as far back as John Dowland from the Renaissance period. A few items could have done with some more rehearsal time, others were beautifully clear and accurate. Arrangements of the tunes were interesting adding a 50’s style jazz backing to more classical pieces and even breaking into a fugue in the style of the 1960’s vocal group the Swingle Singers. Continue reading SYDNEY PHILHARMONIA CHOIRS : IN THE MOOD @ THE UTZON ROOM→
Ballet and contemporary dance fans will adore the chance to see one of the greatest living ballerinas Natalia Osipova at the Sydney Opera House this week. Doubling as Artistic Director she features in a showcase titled ‘Pure Dance’ which has so far toured through London, New York, Lyon France; then later in the year will travel back to Sadlers Wells and across to the Bolshoi.
Osipova’s rise to fame has been well earned through exceptional hard work, stunning talent, determination and known as a consummate professional 24/7. The ultimate perfectionist, she rose through the ranks at the Bolshoi to Principal Artist and has continued to grow her reputation to celebrity status via the Mikhailovsky Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and Royal Ballet.
Touring with her are three leading dancers. Jonathan Goddard, founding member of the New Movement Collective, featured with Rambert company and other British based companies; also Jason Kittelberger who has a broad base of knowledge in dance and acting, working with Rochester City Ballet, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet and working in film including training Emily Blunt for The Adjustment Bureau. Special guest for this tour is American born David Hallberg , Premier Dancer of the Bolshoi Ballet and Principal of the American Ballet Theatre with guest appearances including La Scala, Paris Opera Ballet, Kiev Ballet and Royal Swedish Ballet.Continue reading NATALIA OSIPOVA’S PURE DANCE WITH DAVID HALLBERG→
The Streeton Trio have always been a treat to hear. Founded just over 10 years ago, performing far and wide through China, Middle East, Scandinavia and extensively throughout Europe they have built an enviable international reputation for outstanding work. It was a treat for us to have them at the Independent Theatre, North Sydney last weekend performing their program titled FIRE’S ON. The ensemble’s name comes from famous Australian painter Sir Arthur Streeton. Fire’s On is one of his superb landscape paintings showing pioneers dwarfed by steep, massive clay rocks in the Australian countryside. You can feel the heat of a heavy summer as they are constructing the first railway line across the Blue Mountains and Fire’s On is the warning call of an upcoming dynamite blast. This incredible painting was the backdrop to the performance. Though not explained on stage nor in the program it added a warm colour scheme to the otherwise simply painted interior.
The program began with Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Trio Élégiaque no 1, a feisty, confident way to kick start the concert. We were told Rachmaninoff was in his final year as a student at the Moscow Conservatory at the time of composing and, as with many students of the time, was heavily influenced by the writing of Tchaikovsky. Some parts of the Élégiaque were so similar to Tchaikovsky’s writing that it wasn’t published for quite a time afterwards. The players felt there was a lot of love written into it and we certainly felt the warmth in their interpretation.Continue reading STREETON TRIO : FIRE’S ON @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE→
SYDNEY REVIEWS OF Screen + Stage + Performing Arts + Literary Arts + Visual Arts + Cinema + Theatre +