Music

PALACE TO PRESENT THE INAUGURAL 2019 MUSIC FILM FESTIVAL

Palace Cinemas will present the inaugural Palace Touring: 2019 Music Film Festival, featuring a kaleidoscopic series of master music feature films covering the past 40 years. 

Opening night (August 1) – THE DOORS: THE FINAL CUT, directed by Oliver Stone features in its Australian Premiere. This stunning 4K restoration is the King Kong of rock movies, portraying the psychedelic 60’s and the myth of The Doors’ iconic front-man Jim Morrison. 

The beat continues, with THE BEATLES: EIGHT DAYS A WEEK, a film delving into the iconic bands touring years in the mid 60’s, exploring their inner workings, to the development of their music and the eventual phenomenon that became Beatlemania. 

Continuing with the British theme, the movie CONTROL brings us a poignant, white and black biopic of Joy Divisions lan Curtis, whilst AMY (winner of the 2016 Academy Award for Best Documentary) is a powerfully honest look at the twisted relationship between art and celebrity experienced by British star Amy Winehouse. 

The ball turns to disco, with the cultural phenomenon SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER and moves to SUPERSONIC, a look at Britpop’s iconic band Oasis. A tribute to singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell is also found in JONI 75: A BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION. 

The power of music is portrayed beautifully in GURRUMUL, a celebration of blind indigenous singer songwriter Yunupingu, who finds purpose and meaning through music inspired by his community in North East Arnhem Land. 

Other films on show will be rock-n-roll mockumentary THIS IS SPINAL TAP, plus 20,000 DAYS ON EARTH and THE LAST WALTZ. 

Hot off the heels of screenings at SXSW and Sydney Film Festival, the festival curtain is closed with THE CHILLS: THE TRIUMPH & TRAGEDY OF MARTIN PHILLIPPS. This brand-new music documentary is an honest and inspiring tribute to New Zealand music’s most genius and loved bands, as told through the eyes of their eccentric band leader. 

The inaugural Palace Music Film Festival will screen between Thursday August 1 and Wednesday August 14, 2019

Featured image- a still from Joni 75 : A Birthday Celebration. From left to right- Graham Nash, Charles Valentino, Joni Mitchell, Sauchuen, James Taylor

THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM : THE THREE TENORS IN CONCERT

 

The Qantas Flight from London to Sydney developed a minor mechanical glitch just prior to landing in Bangkok, Thailand.  As a result the passengers were sent to various hotels in the city for some much needed rest. We certainly needed that as all of you who have travelled long distances know too well.  We had also lost track of time as was very obvious when we were returned to the airport and bundled into a crowded transit hall. Way off, on the far side was a minuscule television set blaring what appeared to be a concert.  It was the 8th July 1990 in Bangkok and we had, unbeknownst to some of us, (nor did we care because tiredness had set in again) witnessed the live transmission of the three tenors concert on the eve of the World Cup-Final in Rome.

The concert was the brain-child of tenor Jose Carreras and Italian producer and entrepreneur Mario Dradi.  In June 1989, after a concert, Carreras suggested the idea of a three tenors concert in which Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti and himself, together with Zubin Mehta conducting, performed on the eve of the World Cup Final the following year.  The proceeds of the concert would be channeled into Carreras’ pet charity The Jose Carreras International Leukemia Foundation. Carreras had recently returned to full-time singing following successful treatment for leukaemia. Continue reading THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM : THE THREE TENORS IN CONCERT

SYDNEY EISTEDDFOD ANNOUNCES ALL FEMALE 2019 OPERA SCHOLARSHIP FINAL

Eight young emerging operatic stars will be competing on Sunday 4 August at The Concourse, Chatswood, to win Sydney Eisteddfod’s coveted Opera Scholarship worth in excess of $61,000. 

This year, for the first time since 1995, an all-girl final has been announced. 

With a history going back to 1933, this scholarship has been a launching pad for many international careers such as The Late Dame Joan Sutherland, Amelia Farrugia, Heather Begg, & Stacey Alleaume. The winner is given the opportunity to study overseas to hone their craft

Since winning the Opera Scholarship in 1994, Amelia Farrugia has had a wonderfully successful international career on the Opera stage. Amelia continues to support Sydney Eisteddfod as an ambassador and states: “The Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship provides invaluable and precious opportunities to young singers. The operatic world is highly competitive as there are so few opportunities for Aussie artists. Young singers need to study overseas to be able to compete at an international level and to learn foreign languages such as Italian, French and German.”  Continue reading SYDNEY EISTEDDFOD ANNOUNCES ALL FEMALE 2019 OPERA SCHOLARSHIP FINAL

WHITELEY@ THE JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE

Brett Whiteley is a name many Australians would immediately recognise. His artwork shone so brightly and uniquely he was judged and awarded as a true genius the world over. The youngest artist ever (to this day) to have his work purchased by the Tate Gallery in London his celebrity star rose and fell, rose and fell yet his work is what lives on well beyond his untimely death at the age of 53 from a drug overdose.

Another work has now been completed in his name which can continue that legacy. Opera Australia’s commission for a biographical opera of his life, personally overseen by his ex-wfe Wendy Whiteley, was awarded to Elena Kats-Chernin a much loved composer here in Oz. Her work has its own unique, easily recognisable quality yet her love for art allowed her to delve deeply into Whiteley’s life and work to create a musical representation as unique as him. The premiere was held last night at the Sydney Opera House to a very full house.

The rhythm and flow of the music took a while to settle in, switching between vignette scenes of Whiteley’s turning points in life. Such a transient lifestyle, sometimes deliberate, sometimes unavoidable, called for transient music and there seemed to be very little to grab onto.

Whiteley himself said, “I really paint to try and astonish myself. That’s the basic sort of thing. To see what I haven’t seen. That can run off the rails but certainly repetition kills the spirit quicker than anything else. I mean I’d rather not do anything than go over old ground.”

This feels like what Kats-Chernin was aiming to achieve musically as well so, for those familiar with traditional opera looking for the audible clues to the end of an act/scene or where appreciative applause can be given after an aria, this may feel rather unsteady.

Like a musical play, there were times when a musical phase felt complete yet there were still 3 or 4 words needed to complete the sentence. Other times the familiar Kats-Chernin style flowed in great richness and sense of humour where the audience vibe lifted and relaxed. Conductor Tahu Matheson took an active role in the creative process so was well able to steer the very capable orchestra through the new material.

The libretto by Justin Fleming included many quotes and critiques from the life and times of Whiteley.  This often dumbfounded the audience with phrases that were patronising in their application and sounded highly intellectual or overly poetic. It felt a bit like the Emperor’s New Clothes idea where, if you put your hand up and said “I have no friggin’ idea what you just said”, you might be laughed at. I am guessing these words were the art critic voices Whiteley held in such disdain.

One of the strongest parts of the libretto that the audience responded to was the story of a mass murderer which fascinated Whiteley. In plain English the story was told followed up by a moving gallery of the ladies of the chorus parading past as victims plastered into the walls of his home. Whiteley said he was looking for the singular point of evil and this is what he had found. His astounding painting of the murderer was displayed in the background. A very moving moment.

What were the performers like?  The cast, in dealing with the challenges of free flowing music as well as constantly learning newly updated material during rehearsals were dealing with a task far greater than the regular season. They did a fantastic job.

Usually in opera, the singer’s musical capabilities and interpretation take the highest priority but in this production the title role, played by American Baritone Leigh Melrose, showed an acting ability far beyond what is normally expected of a singer. Whiteley is a complex, wide ranging character from a 20 year old surprised at the overnight success, to rock star socialite, tentative father and defeated drug addict.

Creating a character on stage that both newbies or experts can believe in and relate to is an exceptional challenge. Melrose rose to that challenge and I expect there would be few, if any, singers around the world who could better his performance. This is his debut role with Opera Australia and I really hope we see him return to Australia again.

Whiteley’s wife, played by Queensland Soprano Julie Lea Goodwin was outstanding. A powerful voice and highly versatile actress. I last saw her in the comedy role of Two Weddings One Bride for Opera Australia and she is well known for her Musical Theatre roles so this role should open the door to more serious roles if she desires.

As gorgeous and glamorous as the real life Wendy, Goodwin carried the story with Melrose progressing from a 15 year old student through to grieving 50-something ex-wife. Well established principal for Opera Australia Mezzo Domenica Matthews gave a very strong performance as Whiteley’s mother – the audience loved her.

I attended the talk Opera Australia held in the Utzon Room of Sydney Opera House 2 weeks ago as promotion for the production. The talk highlighted the constant flow of edits to be managed by a team working through the night to produce manuscripts for the following day. This process had been running 24 hours a day for around 6 months. So the focus of the whole company was “It’ll be alright on the night” and it was. If there were any major mistakes, we didn’t spot them. The mammoth task of creating a premiere seems to have bonded the already strong team vibe amongst both cast and production personnel.

The large video walls previously used in Aida, Madame Butterfly and Anna Bolena were used again for the ever changing scenery, and this time it felt like a perfect balance, neither upstaging nor overwhelming in video imagery. It enhanced the performance with large scale versions of Whiteley’s artwork, sometimes older artwork he was studying bursting into life, other times quiet, abstract panels to keep the focus on the performers – the best production yet in the use of these panels with credit to Director David Freeman, Production Designer Dan Potra, Video and Projection Design Sean Nieuwenhuis.

The audience gave a rousing applause at the conclusion, with many curtain calls. The performance  was just over two hours including interval and kept our attention throughout. It is a short season so hurry along if you want to see the most new and innovative production of the year.

Premiere season at Sydney Opera House 15 until 30 July 2019

Opera Australia website: https://opera.org.au/

A DUO DOUBLE BILL @ FOUNDRY 616 : ONE DOUBLE PASS

Enjoy an evening of instrumental duos at the Foundry 616.

8.30pm FOR THIS MOMENT DUO
For This Moment is a collaboration between two Sydney creative musicians and composers, Jenna Cave and Keyna Wilkins. Limited only by their chosen instruments and their imaginations, this music explores the ways in which melodic lines can meet in free improvisation to create a meaningful and cohesive musical whole. Nothing is off limits, with broad influences ranging from folk melodies to impressionism, contemporary and free jazz to minimalism, and 20th century classical music to the blues.
http://jennacave.com/for-this-moment

10pm TANGENTS DUO
Tangents is a Sydney-based quintet that melds electronic production, experimental rock and free improvisation. In recent years they have laid out a unique body of work across 3 studio albums, including the critically acclaimed New Bodies in 2018. They are known for their fiery and hypnotic live performances that are often fully improvised. For July 18 at Foundry 616 Tangents will be in duo mode of Evan Dorrian (drums) and Adrian Lim Klumpes (piano) stretching out the acoustic improvised side of Tangents.
http://www.tangentsmusic.com/

Doors open 6.30pm, Music 8.30pm. Tickets $22-77 (with dinner and show options): https://foundry616.com.au/product/18-july-tangents-duo/

Sydney Arts Guide has one double pass to give away to for the performance on  Thursday 18th July, 2019 at the Foundry 616, 616 Harris Street, Ultimo. Email editor.sydneyartsguide@gmail.com  with the Foundry Promotion in the subject heading. The winner will be advised by email.

Featured image – Flautist Keyna Wilkins and saxophonist Jenna Cave.

 

NATALYA PLAYS: MUSIC FROM STUDIO GHIBI- CHOPIN STYLE

Anime and classical music lovers – this evening is for you!

Celebrate some of the most iconic music from the films of STUDIO GHIBLI – played in the style of Chopin by Australia’s quirkiest pop culture pianist in this brand new solo concert!

Natalya is a classically trained performer who brought you WORLDS CONNECTED: Music from Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts in 2018. Following its great success, she’s back with another virtuosic program which will feature some exciting arrangements that distill the essence of Chopin into his instantly recognisable Nocturnes, Preludes and Waltzes, and cleverly infuse the melancholic themes from the iconic Ghibli films such as Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, My Neighbour Totoro and many more. Continue reading NATALYA PLAYS: MUSIC FROM STUDIO GHIBI- CHOPIN STYLE

FROM BROADWAY TO LA SCALA @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE : TWO DOUBLE PASSES

FROM BROADWAY TO LA SCALA returns with a bigger and even more exciting line up. Six of Australia’s finest voices – Teddy Tahu Rhodes, David Hobson, Caroline O’Connor, Emma Matthews, Alexander Lewis and Genevieve Kingsford – come together to perform 34 of the greatest songs of all time across opera and musical theatre. From Puccini to Rodgers and Hammerstein, Bizet to Gershwin, Verdi to Cole Porter, Bernstein and Andrew Lloyd Webber, this bi-annual concert event is renowned for its world-class presentation of the greatest songs, arias and duets of the last two centuries. 

Soaring with the exuberance of the great stage musicals and enriched with the passion of grand opera, FROM BROADWAY TO LA SCALA has become one of the most popular orchestral concerts on the entertainment calendar.  Continue reading FROM BROADWAY TO LA SCALA @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE : TWO DOUBLE PASSES

BEL A CAPPELLA : CONCERTO FOR CHOIR @ MANLY

Bel a cappella presents Concerto for Choir in Manly in early August.

Anthony Pasquill, Music Director has, as always, programmed a selection of eclectic yet perfectly matched works which includes:

Richard Strauss: Der Abend Op. 34/1
David Lang: I lie
Caroline Shaw: Fly Away I
Felix Mendelssohn: Sacred Choruses Op. 115
John Cage: Ear to Ear and Four2
William Harris: Bring Us, O Lord God
Alfred Schnittke: Choir Concerto

DATE FOR THE DIARY 

August 4 at 3pm at .the Cardinal Cerretti Chapel, Cerretti Crescent, Manly 

Booking    https://www.trybooking.com/book/event?eid=454666

or call  0412 548 703

For more about Bel a cappella | Concerto for Choir, visit
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Featured image by Karen Watson

THE CHOIR OF MAN @ THE STUDIO

The feel-good sing-along hit, THE CHOIR OF MAN  will return to Sydney Opera House for an encore season in The Studio from 6 November – 1 December 2019 following its sold out four week season earlier this year.

An international runaway hit of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2017 and 2018, and the Adelaide Fringe Festival “Pick of the Fringe 2018” winner, THE CHOIR OF MAN is a musical adventure full of heart and energy.

The cast of nine mates perform a set-list including hits from the likes of Paul Simon, Adele, Avicii, Queen and Guns N’ Roses. A joyous show for all ages, The Choir of Man brings together world-class singers, dancers, instrumentalists and poets with flawless vocal harmonies.

The show is set in a cosy British pub called “The Jungle”, The Choir of Man combines incredible vocals with high energy dance, live percussion and foot stomping choreography. Most pubs have a football club, a darts team, or an intimidatingly vast array of craft beer – this one has a raucous male voice choir.

DATES- 6 November to 1 December at the Studio, Sydney Opera House.

For more about The Choir Of The Man, visit https://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/events/whats-on/cabaret/2019/the-choir-of-man-return.html
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MYSTIFY : MICHAEL HUTCHENCE

I  want to see this film to find out more about Michael Hutchence. I know his music a little  from his time as frontman with INXS but very little about the man.

The film was written and directed by Richard Lowenstein who directed many of Hutchence’s music video. The movie has been well researched with plenty of use of video footage including home videos and concert footage as well as old  photos.

I’m glad I went. I got to know the man quite well.He had quite a remarkable journey for a boy whose school reports said that he could do better and that he was a dreamer He was a bit of a shy lad but that shyness soon left him when his career skyrocketed.

There was extensive concert footage which proved again what a charismatic performer he was. In a way he was kind  of  our version of Mick Jagger. Continue reading MYSTIFY : MICHAEL HUTCHENCE

SYDNEY YOUTH ORCHESTRA : BEETHOVEN’S FIFTH @ CITY RECITAL HALL

Above and featured image : SYO members with Chief Conductor Alexander Briger.

This winter concert from SYO in City Recital Hall was an exciting and entertaining romp through two very well known and loved orchestral works. Both well known works on this challenging programme were played with considerable energy, enunciation and elation.

The talented young orchestral players displayed formidable stamina and finesse as they were guided through some fine interpretations by conductor Alexander Briger.

To begin the afternoon, Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring Suite was explored in turn with impressive restraint and exuberance by SYO. With nice shaping of Copland’s simple, sparse language here, very accessible and detailed vistas welcomed us into a very evocative world.

This performance world’s neat excitement was awash with a myriad of colours. Smooth interest was maintained thanks to continued seamless shifts between full orchestra, the timbres of SYO’s separate instrumental groups and well-balanced solo lines pitted against the orchestra.

SYO’s playing of ‘The Gift To Be Simple’ hymn in this work was a true highlight. It grew from initial moments of sweetly chiselled intimacy through to tutti declamations of unbridled joy. This was thanks to some impressive unison focus and charismatic tracing of line.

To conclude this concert event we had a decent serving of bold and brash Beethoven as SYO gave a powerhouse rendering of his Symphony No 5. Conductor Alexander Briger ensured there was still plenty of space amidst the rocketing tempi choices of the outer movements for nice subtleties and conversation across the orchestra.

The swoop of material developed across the various sections of the orchestra was clear despite the ambitious tempo. Despite the large orchestral forces employed there was considerable buoyancy and lightness in the playing. This resulted particularly from the realisation of Beethoven’s involved sections of character contrasts within and between movements.

The unified orchestral power spoke with a contrasting strident poetic beauty throughout the less-hectic second movement of this famous symphony. This leisurely and forward-leaning Andante con moto breathed easily as it elegantly stated its famous case . Following this interlude the large orchestra was once more harnessed to launch into faster movements where it effectively expressed Beethoven’s vibrant musical  shapes and brusque, complex thematic combinations.

This symphony was taken at such a keen pace its rendering would have greatly challenged a group of musicians of even much more collective experience  than SYO.

However, the success and safety of this orchestra getting through the substantial work owed much to the clear and driving persistence of its chief conductor as well as some admirable section and full-orchestra leading from concertmaster  Ben Tjoa.

This Beethoven performance was quite elevated and spontaneous. It was by no means a scramble despite the obvious athletic efforts and collective brave, hard work of these capable musicians. This milestone and fresh interpretation deserves repeat performances and perhaps even a chance at being recorded orbroadcast.

Here, the two large and popular landmark works of the orchestral canon were  well programmed for variety and effect. They were admirably tackled by SYO, leaving us with some fine chances to revisit these key works from Copland and Beethoven and refresh our love of them.

Sydney Youth Orchestras continue to have a busy 2019. On September 21 the SYO collaborates with Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and Festival Chorus in a performance of the Dvorák Requiem at Sydney Opera House.