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.
Sunday on a sunny brisk Autumn afternoon, a small crowd gathered in the conference room of the Langham Hotel in central Sydney. As New South Wales descended at a glacial pace down through the various stages of covid lockdown The Langham, in cooperation with Andrew McKinnon Presentations, launched “The Salon Series”. This is a monthly event featuring a high profile performer or ensemble accompanied by a delicious meal – either a High Tea or Degustation dinner with wine package.
This month featured renowned pianist Gerard Willems AM. He is Associate Professor at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music but still regularly tours the world performing as a concert soloist and giving master classes. Willems is the first Australian pianist to record all 32 of Beethoven’s piano sonatas and also recorded the complete Piano trios by Mozart so has built a remarkable discography over the decades.Continue reading SALON SERIES : GERARD WILLIAMS @ THE LANGHAM HOTEL→
Featured at The Concourse Chatswood is the ‘Live at Lunch’ series produced by Jane Rutter. The series has been running for 10 years starring new guests with Rutter for each performance. It’s a brilliant concept where the show runs for an hour starting at midday followed by an optional lunch at a neighbouring restaurant with the performers. Here, audience members can speak directly with the performers, collect photos and autographs making an intimate and memorable experience.
Rutter originally studied with Jean-Pierre Rampal in Paris and, after many years of professional contribution to the Arts, was awarded Chevalier de L’ordre des Arts et Lettres from the French Embassy. She has built a large following of adoring fans who are dedicated to her concert series at the Concourse as well as her regular regional tours. Joining her today was international bass opera star Teddy Tahu-Rhodes accompanied by renowned pianist John Martin in a concert titled “Figaro Flute and Flowers”.Continue reading LIVE AT LUNCH SERIES : FIGARO, FLUTE AND FLOWERS @ THE CONCOURSE→
After such a deluge of rain and flooding around New South Wales last week, thoughts drifted towards perhaps the need for Noah’s Ark. There must have been much nail biting as to the weather leading up to opening night of La Traviata on Sydney Harbour. With an immense, heavily raked (ie. tilted towards the audience) stage, many stairs and no shelter overhead for cast nor audience, the company stated the show would go on regardless.
Blessed we were, the gods were smiling on poor Opera Australia who suffered so very badly last year. It was this production they had to cancel for lockdown whilst they were in the final stages of dress rehearsal. This time around we made it to opening night. The skies cleared, the sea was calm and gently lapping against the sea walls; the temperature was balmy with not a wisp of wind to be found and small contributions were made from the park’s fruit bats. Continue reading HANDA OPERA ON SYDNEY HARBOUR LA TRAVIATA→
Standing out in stark contrast to the rest of this year’s offering, Opera Australia (OA) offers the modern creation of Béla Bartók, BLUEBEARD’S CASTLE. A story of intrigue, innocence, violence and cunning.
As a young man, Bartók set off to travel with his friend the poet Béla Balázs (the two Belás), and sometimes with fellow composer Zoltán Kodály, collecting folk stories and tunes from all around their native Hungary. This became an important record of what makes up the culture of their country. It continued to influence Bartók’s work throughout his life.Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA : BLUEBEARD’S CASTLE @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE→
The Joan Sutherland Theatre was roaring with applause in the first opening opera night this year to be permitted full capacity audience after almost twelve months. The crowd was keen, the performers were keen and the mutual admiration left everyone in a high vibe mood.
Puccini’s TOSCA is a dramatically dark story originally based on a massively successful French play written for Sarah Bernhardt. She acted the role of La Tosca for many years, even touring the production around the world in 1889 including Australia.
The play was still hot and touring when Puccini was granted the rights to create the opera several years later. The story is set in a momentous time in history in Italy. A little background is useful here…
One of the most popular opera composers in the world today is Giuseppe Verdi. His writing is full of drama, adventure, memorable melodies and magnificent orchestration. Some favourites he wrote which you’ll recognise are Aida, La Traviata, Rigoletto, Nabucco, Il Trovatore, Falstaff, Otello and Don Carlo. When you’re a Verdi fan you’re bound to want to see his lesser known operas as well. Verdi completed 26 of them, after all.
This is one of Verdi’s early works titled ‘Ernani’. His fifth opera which he completed when he was about 30 years old. The story comes from a controversial play penned by Victor Hugo about 15 years earlier which caused a physical riot in the theatre on opening night at the Comédie-Française in Paris. Even though the French Revolution and the Great Terror were still deeply etched in the minds of Parisians; the opera Classicists thought it completely outrageous seeing the King make his entry from hiding in a cupboard and later hiding in a crypt. Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA : GIUSEPPE VERDI’S ‘ERNANI’ @ JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE→
In years past when you went to the opera at Sydney Opera House, there was ample choice of productions to choose between. The venue flowed like a well oiled machine with staff working almost invisibly in all the many ways visitors would connect with them. Last night, 5th January, was a very different scene altogether.
Conversation from the carpark and roadways as visitors walked towards the theatre bustled with excitement, talking with each other when they might normally have ignored other visitors.
“How lovely to be back.” “Can’t wait to get in there.” “Have been waiting for this for a long time.”
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.
This is a superb record of the history of Bangarra Dance Company. A story told, just like in Dreamtime, of the three Page brothers who founded the company. The story starts back in their childhood carrying through to the present day. Beautifully edited with loads of historic footage, it tells a touching story of the push-pull of success. A company that has become one of the most successful indigenous arts companies in the world. Success brings expectations, demands and much responsibility. Continue reading FIRESTARTER : THE STORY OF BANGARRA→
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→
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