Music

OPERA AUSTRALIA PRESENTS ‘TURANDOT’ @ THE JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE

Opera Australia’s ‘Turandot’. Production photography by Keith Sanders

This was a wonderful opening night of Giacomo Puccini’s ‘Turandot’ performed by Opera Australia at Sydney’s Opera House on Tuesday 15th January 2019. TURANDOT is Puccini’s final opera and one of his most well-known thanks to the unforgettable performance of the aria ‘Nessun Dorma’ by tenor Luciano Pavarotti. Considered by many as Puccini’s most musically adventurous and best known Opera. Sadly Puccini (born 1858) died in 1924 before it was completed. TURANDOT premiered on the 25th April 1926 at La Scala in Milan with the final scenes written by composer Franco Alfano, a successful opera composer in his own right, based the final ending on Puccini’s drafts and sketches.

This year’s revival of Graeme Murphy’s 1990 production leans heavily into the fairy tale and Puccini’s view of early 20th century China which he developed from studying books about old Chinese music and information from his friend who had been the Italian Consul in China at the time. Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA PRESENTS ‘TURANDOT’ @ THE JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE

CAMILLE O’SULLIVAN – WHERE ARE WE NOW ?

CAMILLE O’SULLIVAN – WHERE ARE WE NOW ?      Photo Credit: Victor  Frankowski

A bell tolls and Camille O’Sullivan steps from the audience onto the stage of the Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent in a shimmering self-made midnight blue/black cat suit topped with a black cape. From that moment this consummate performer holds the audience in her hand as she present, what she describes as a love letter to two of her heroes of music Leonard Cohen and David Bowie with added material from a variety of artists such as Nick Cave, PJ Harvey and Jacques Brel. The show itself is named after one of Bowie’s final singles.

In this 80 minute show O’Sullivan an Irish/French singer and storyteller-in-song, and her highly talented three piece supporting band of Feargal Colm Murray on piano, Paul John Byrne on drums and Steven Fraser on guitar, ask “Where are We Now”, in this turbulent, changing world in distress. Her strong, clear and passionate voice consumes the cabaret type space of the Spiegeltent as she turns each song into a theatrical performance. Continue reading CAMILLE O’SULLIVAN – WHERE ARE WE NOW ?

SUPERB LISTENING: ELYSIAN FIELDS’ DEBUT CD

The release of WHAT SHOULD I SAY, by Elysian Fields, Australia’s only electric viola da gamba band, heralds the creation of a new and unique musical voice.

Elysian Fields is the brainchild of viola da gambist, Jenny Eriksson, and leading jazz musicians, Matt Keegan, saxophones, and Matt McMahon, piano.

The album takes its name from the central piece, a remarkable new song cycle by pianist and band member, Matt McMahon,
which sets four poems by Thomas Wyatt – courtier and lyric 16th century poet at the court of King Henry VIII – reputed lover of Queen Anne Boleyn, to music. Also featured is ‘Elysium’, an epic work by Matt Keegan and an original chart by bassist, Siebe Pogson. Continue reading SUPERB LISTENING: ELYSIAN FIELDS’ DEBUT CD

SUNDAY SERIES. THE DOLLAR BIN DARLINGS: “YOU WILL DANCE” AT SF19

The Dollar Bin Darlings All photos – Ben Apfelbaum

Jonny and Andreas are the A and B side of The Dollar Bin Darlings and The Guide had the chance to embrace the warmth, the joy and the energy of this duo of formidably knowledgeable DJs who will spin the platters to get Sydney audiences up and moving during SF19.

These unofficial, they decided for themselves, mayors of Sydney will be bringing their matchless style to the Speigeltent and the Festival Gardens.  Purveyors of disco with a unique twist, the DBD’s are the cool uncles of dance motivation as they use their encyclopaedic knowledge of late 70s and early 80s jazz-to-funk to get young and old on their feet.  A bit like, they tell me, the cool matriarch aunty who gets the family on the dance floor at weddings. Continue reading SUNDAY SERIES. THE DOLLAR BIN DARLINGS: “YOU WILL DANCE” AT SF19

SYDNEY IMPROVISED MUSIC ASSOCIATION : JAZZ NOW SUMMER SESSIONS

The 2019 JAZZ:NOW summer season showcases an exciting line-up designed to expose audiences to the very best Australian creative music.
Presented in a number of fantastic venues across Sydney the offerings highlight the diversity that exists within the Australian Jazz landscape.
From the world premiere of Sandy Evans “Bridge of Dreams” at the City Recital Hall to Freedman Fellow Nick Garbett’s intimate club show at Venue 505 to Ellen Kirkwood’s infectious dance band Fat Yahoozah at the Bondi Pavilion, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Below is the full program of events.

JAZZ: NOW SUMMER SEASON 2019

Saturday

12 January 2019

SIRENS BIG BAND AND SANDY EVANS PRESENTS BRIDGE OF DREAMS

City Recital Hall

$50 | $40

https://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/events/bridge-of-dreams?fbclid=IwAR0J9BIUvnSElFruN7oxSKiSQYTXIphrf7WnEXSCmmf-rc5Ga-64THB9U1M

In Bridge of Dreams, saxophonist, Sandy Evans leads a brilliant ensemble of Australian and Indian musicians.  Featuring 24 artists on stage, this is a glorious exchange between Australian jazz and the rich Indian musical palette.

This world-class collaboration features the sublime voice of Indian singer, Shubha Mudgal; the stellar 17-piece Sirens Big Band; renowned tabla players, Aneesh Pradhan and Bobby Singh and harmonium virtuoso, Sudhir Nayak.

BEN HAUPTMANN

Friday

18-Jan-19

Sound Lounge

$30 | $25

https://www.seymourcentre.com/events/event/jazznow-ben-hauptmann/

SIMA is back at the Sound Lounge in 2019 with the ‘JAZZ NOW’ Summer Series and a wonderful ‘guitar’ special to mark the occasion.

Winner of the 2010 Freedman Jazz Fellowship, guitarist Ben Hauptmann leads a stripped back, fully acoustic ensemble, playing music from his two albums and a collection of new material. Ben Hauptmann is a prestigious guitarist/composer based on the Central Coast in NSW.

Winner of the 2010 Freedman Jazz Fellowship and 2nd place winner in the 2007 National Jazz Awards at the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz. Ben has worked a diverse range of artists including Dr G Yunupingu, Bandaluzia Flamenco, Katie Noonan, Lior, Justine Clarke, Vince Jones, Dami Im, Jack Ladder, Bluejuice, Micheline Van Hautem, Bertie Blackman, Donny Benet, Meow Meow and Tal Wilkenfeld. Ben has contributed to many recordings including the 2015 ARIA winning ’The Gospel Album’ by Dr G Yunupingu, he has released two albums under his own name and has produced and co-produced multiple others.

BEN HAUPTMANN acoustic resonator guitar | FRANCO RAGGATT acoustic resonator guitar | ARNE HANNA acoustic guitar | HARRY SUTHERLAND piano | ZOE HAUPTMANN double bass | EVAN MANNELL percussion

SONIC FUTURES – JAZZ STARS OF TOMORROW- CHLOE KIM

9-Feb-19

Saturday

Sound Lounge

$25 | $20

https://www.seymourcentre.com/events/event/jazznow-chloe-kim/

Sonic Futures (previously Trigger) spotlights outstanding young jazz talents – someone on the brink of their professional career, whose calibre of improvisation and composition has set them apart.  This featured jazz star of tomorrow is Sydney Conservatorium student, drummer Chloe Kim.  Her Sound Lounge concert will be recorded live with the support of APRA/AMCOS.

“the first percussionist I’ve heard forge an approach drawing on the innovations of Australia’s master-drummer, Simon Barker.” John Shand, SMH

JAZZ AT THE PAV : FAT YAHOOZAH

Friday

8-Mar-19

Bondi Pavillion

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/jazz-the-pav-fat-yahoozah-tickets-53569721479

A series of concerts at Bondi Pavillion co-presented by SIMA and Waverley Council

Unabashedly blending beats and grooves from around the world into boisterous horn-powered party tunes, Fat Yahoozah’s sound is as big and bold as their name suggests. This 7 piece group draws its music from styles such as Klezmer, Ethiopian, Balkan and Afro-Cuban, melded into creative concoctions. Led by award-winning composer and trumpeter Ellen Kirkwood, this band boasts some of Sydney’s finest and diversely skilled musicians. Fat Yahoozah are a loveable fun-bunch who will make you feel like dancing!

ELLEN KIRKWOOD trumpet, bandleader | RUTH WELLS saxophone | NICK POLOVINEO trombone | SERGE STANLEY baritone sax, accordion | HILARY GEDDES guitar | JESS DUNN double bass | EVAN MCGREGOR drums

JAZZ AT THE PAV : MARTHA MARLOW

Friday

15-Mar-19

Bondi Pavillion

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/jazz-the-pav-martha-marlow-tickets-53569953172

A series of concerts at Bondi Pavilion co-presented by SIMA and Waverley Council

From an early age, songwriter Martha Marlow began writing and performing on the guitar. Her open tunings, intricate arrangements and pure voice are trademarks of her unique sound.  At just 24, she has already played alongside Clare Bowditch, Angie Heart (Frente) and Matt Corby and toured with Katie Noonan.

“Martha Marlow is a raw and untapped talent with songs that surpass most of what we’re introduced to in today’s music”” themusic.com

Jazz at the Pav: Red Hands

Friday

22-Mar-19

Bondi PavillionHttps://www.facebook.com/events/347415646034908/

A series of concerts at Bondi Pavillion co-presented by SIMA and Waverley Council

Drawn together via a shared love of some of the same records, the band take their cues from the likes of Grant Green, Wes Montgomery, George Benson and Ernest Ranglin.

High energy, exciting performance that showcases the exceptional musicianship this band is known for – this is a rare chance to catch the Red Hands riding high once again.

RAY BEADLE guitar/vocals | KARL LASKOWSKI tenor saxophone | ZOE HAUPTMANN bass | EVAN MANNELL drums | CLAYTON DOLEY organ

Tickets for events can be purchased HERE. 

AUSTRALIAN HAYDN ENSEMBLE-‘HAYDN’S FAREWELL’ @ SYDNEY CONSERVATORIUM OF MUSIC

Above: Guest conductor and fortepianist Dr Erin Helyard with AHE Artistic Director Skye McIntosh.

In the history of Australian Haydn Ensemble concerts it has always been a special event when we have had the chance to hear the group in its extended orchestral complement. Collaborations with early keyboard and historically informed performance expert Erin Helyard have also been a highlight of any subscription series.

In a special end to the 2018 concert season, the Sydney audience was treated to both of the above. The concert was a strident offering rich in dramatic contrast, humour and dazzling execution. A stunning calibre of performance practice with charismatic eagerness to convey fine emotion, architecture and context of the music quickly and consistently endeared the works and performers to us.

 AHE launched into the afternoon with an exciting reading of JC Bach’s Symphony in G minor Op 6 No 6. Following an interesting overview of the programme from Erin Helyard, this was a focussed and bold start to the event.

 With Erin Helyard conducting from the keyboard, the Sturm und Drang sentiment was solid and contrasts well harnessed. The full bodied horn declamations were particularly effective throughout and their tone was well blended with the precision and crispness of the parts from strings and other winds.

 This was an inspiring reminder of the expressive power and agenda of JC Bach’s music. It was a good choice by Erin Helyard to include in this programme alongside the colourful drama of the works of Mozart and Haydn. We could well benefit from the chance to hear more of JC Bach’s output in concerts in future.

Erin Helyard’s performances on the 2014 replica of a late eighteenth century Anton Walter fortepiano were as always a wonderful showcase for the fluid and unique tone of this instrument. The Piano Concerto No 12 in A major K 414 dates from Mozart’s time in Vienna The joy of Mozart inhis new environment plus the promotion of his pianism and more dramatic compositions such as opera is evident here. 

The slow movement of this work is based on an overture by JC Bach, which is a good tie-in for this concert as well as an interesting link historically between the two progressive composers. AHE as led by Helyard as soloist from the keyboard helped us make our own parallels between the two composers’ emotional directness and ease of writing for orchestral forces. 

This early concerto shone in the hands of Erin Helyard. Interaction with keyboard and orchestra was keen and intimate fortepiano voice was eloquent and well balanced at all times. Cadenza moments were especially poignant utterances endearing us further to this choice of instrument.

Such historically informed performance success from keyboard and orchestra continued after interval in the Rondo for Piano and Orchestra in A major K 386, her in its joyous restored manuscript version courtesy to the editing and research of Alan Tyson and Charles Mackerras. This true survivor of a single movement work restored from fragments various was performed vibrantly and gave us more seldom heard Mozart in a convincing and colourful expression. 

To conclude the concert, the colour, rhythmic variety, skilled orchestration and humour of Franz Joseph Haydn’s much loved ‘Farewell’ Symphony was a timely way to conclude the 2018 AHE’s 2018 series. As well as fine Haydn playing in is atypical but compelling symphonic score from this orchestra’s namesake composer, the legendary conclusion with the parts stopping and leaving the stage was expertly updated here.

To emphasise the idea of impending vacation, as much of the audience would be feeling, a theatrical enactment of trekking, skiing, kayaking, diving partying and other holiday activities other than performing were brilliantly enacted by AHE members. Concept by James Eccles and Glen Hamilton brought this excellent concert and yearly concert season to an even more colourful and dramatic close than fine orchestral stage performance alone.

 

 

Australian Brandenburg Orchestra Noel! Noel! Follow Your Star

THE AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA IN NOEL! NOEL ! FOLLOW YOUR STAR
CITY RECITAL HALL DECEMBER 2018

A most glorious concert full of the Christmas spirit , musically and vocally superb.

The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Choir exuberantly led by Paul Dyer were in rich , glowing form.

Special guest was magnificent Western Australian soprano Bonnie de la Hunty , returned from the Netherlands , who was in elegant , refined joyous voice .Her soprano was exquisite ,delicate scintillating and crystal clear.

This year Dyer talked to the audience only once and there was no audience participation involved. Musical styles ranged over 700 years from Gregorian chant to contemporary, seeking peacefulness and a centred stillness with a selection of songs and arrangements of favourites for a 13 member orchestra and 24 member choir.

The first bracket opened with Hildegard von Bingen (arr. Palmer)’s O euchari in laeta via – at times dancelike and shimmering , de la Hunty was in stunning angelic voice and the choir was rumbustious and celebratory .You could almost hear the snow flurries. Next came the dramatic acapella Gregorian Chant Rorate coeli / Veni veni Emmanuel with the male and female choirs alternating in counterpoint , answer and response.

Johann Crüger ‘s Nuch komm der Heyden Heyland opened with a stirring drumbeat.the atmosphere was that of a medieval /renaissance court with a boisterous dance like flowing rhythm. De la Hunty;s solo was captivating.This was followed by Johannes Eccard’s joypus and bouncy Ich steh an deiner Krippen hier
The second bracket began with Christopher Tye & Nahum Tate ‘s While shepherds watched , featuring an angelic solo by de la Hunty .Claudio Monteverdi ‘s tumbling , upbeat Laudate dominum , conducted by Dyer on harpsichord ,ended with a very showy and extended Allelujia.

The traditional (arr. Palmer) Gartan mother’s lullaby was warm and lilting , with a pulsating rhthym.de la Hunty sang softly and tenderly. In Francisco Guerrero’s Maria Magdalena we heard the ladies choir soaring voices , the men interweaving , all blending and cascading in a richly layered performance .

Next up was a fun ,quirky version of John Henry Hopkins Jr. (arr. Palmer) We three kings of Orient are , with tambourine , trumpets , organ , harpsichord and xylophone among other instruments .Big smiles all round.

De la Hunty in a fiery red and gold gown had a stunning solo in Jean-Philippe Rameau (arr. Dyer) ‘Ô nuit’ from Hyppolyte et Aricie which was quiet reflective and full of awe.

Traditional (arr. Palmer) O little town of Bethlehem featured trumpets up in the balcony and also included cymbals.The Orchestra for this had a rich, full bodied sound.

Alex Palmer’s A sparkling Christmas was fast and furiously scurrying , with emphatic rhythms leading to a breathless conclusion. For this piece the many lights suspended from the ceiling pulsated and flickered on and off.

Ēriks Ešenvalds flowing Only in sleep was hauntingly beautiful .One particularly noticed de la Hunty’s exceptional crystal clear pure voice in her solo .

The bubbling, joyous explosion of Handel’s ‘Let the bright Seraphim’ from Samson was a major highlight , a glittering showpiece for de la Hunty and her leaping coloratura fireworks .

Irving Berlin (arr. Rathbone) ‘s White Christmas was sung acapella by the Choir , a wonderful blending of voices , with appropriate snowflake lighting.

Adolphe Adam (arr. Palmer) O holy night was a very moving showcase yet again for de la Hunty.Tommie Anderson on Baroque guitar had a delicate, extremely moving solo in Franz Xaver Gruber’s Stille Nacht ( sung in three different languages! ) and there was also a violin interlude.

The concert concluded with a vigorous O come, all ye faithful absolutely bursting with Christmas spirit.

Running time roughly 90 minutes no interval.

The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra in Noel! Noel 1 Follow Your Star runs at the City Recital Hall 12-15 December and is at other NSW venues too.

Hildegard von Bingen (arr. Palmer) O euchari in laeta via
Gregorian Chant Rorate coeli / Veni veni Emmanuel
Johann Crüger Nuch komm der Heyden Heyland
Johannes Eccard Ich steh an deiner Krippen hier
Christopher Tye & Nahum Tate While shepherds watched
Claudio Monteverdi Laudate dominum
Traditional (arr. Palmer) Gartan mother’s lullaby
Francisco Guerrero Maria Magdalena
John Henry Hopkins Jr. (arr. Palmer) We three kings of Orient are
Jean-Philippe Rameau (arr. Dyer) ‘Ô nuit’ from Hyppolyte et Aricie
Traditional (arr. Palmer) O little town of Bethlehem
Alex Palmer A sparkling Christmas
Ēriks Ešenvalds Only in sleep
Handel ‘Let the bright Seraphim’ from Samson
Irving Berlin (arr. Rathbone) White Christmas
Adolphe Adam (arr. Palmer) O holy night
Franz Xaver Gruber Stille Nacht
Traditional O come, all ye faithful
Artists
Paul Dyer Artistic Director
Australian Brandenburg Orchestra
Brandenburg Choir
Bonnie de la Hunty (AUS) Soprano

 

ANDRE RIEU’S SYDNEY TOWN HALL CONCERT ON THE BIG SCREEN

 ‘The King of Waltz’ – André Rieu – with his Johann Strauss Orchestra, sopranos and tenors, recently filmed a special one-off concert at the magnificent Sydney Town Hall during his Australian tour.  André Rieu’s Sydney Town Hall Concert – An Australian Celebration will be André’s next concert for cinemas worldwide. Australia (& NZ) will be first in the world to see it on the big screen – this weekend December 15 & 16 at 1pm at selected cinemas.

André brought 100+ people on his recent three-city, five sell-out show Oz tour – orchestra, performers, technical & production crew, costumiers, make-up artists as well as his  photographer, Marcel van Hoorn.

The 135-minute concert in cinemas features  extras  André and his orchestra filmed in Sydney – including a BBQ on Shark Island and a twilight cruise on Sydney Harbour.

SYDNEY PHILHARMONIA CHOIR : CAROLS AT THE HOUSE

The joy of singing and the magic of Christmas was on full display on Friday 7th December at Sydney’s Opera House. The Sydney Philharmonia Choirs (SPC) performed a heady program of Christmas classics conducted by the Music Director, Brett Weymark. It was a magical evening of carols, music, readings and lots of wonderful entertainment ushering in the festive season.

In the very capable hands of long time Artistic and Music Director Brett Weymark the 500 strong choir consisted of the Sydney Philharmonia Chamber Singers, VOX, Symphony Choir and the Christmas Choir (apparently they had only 6 weeks to rehearse). Accompanied by the Sydney Philharmonia Orchestra and supported by two outstanding guest soloists Kerrie Anne Greenland and Teddy Tahu Rhodes presented a great collection of music spanning centuries including famous songs from stage and screen and so much more.

The evening opened with a tongue in cheek introduction by ‘Her Majesty- The Queen’ and the deep resonant sounds of the Concert hall organ and horns which heralded ‘The many moods of Christmas Suite 1’ sung beautifully by the choir singing ‘Christ is born today’.

There was a wonderful balance between Orchestra and Chorus throughout the concert.

Audience participation was strongly encouraged by Weymark commencing with ‘Silent Night’ which celebrated its 200th birthday year this year and continued with other carols. These included ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’, ‘Good king Wenceslas’, ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’, ‘Joy to the world’, ’The First Nowell’ ending with a very joyful and prestissimo ‘Deck the Halls’. Its increasing fast tempo ended nicely with a slower paced finale. Continue reading SYDNEY PHILHARMONIA CHOIR : CAROLS AT THE HOUSE

ACACIA QUARTET AND ALICIA CROSSLEY- ‘MUSE’ CONCERT AND CD LAUNCH @ THE UTZON ROOM

Recorder soloist Alicia Crossley joined Acacia Quartet for the ‘Muse’  concert and recording project of Australian works. Featured image: watercolour artwork by Clémentine Campardou (Blule) inspired by the Muse project.

This concert and CD launch of ‘Muse’ was an inspiring contribution to the Australian live and recorded music scene for 2018 and for many years to come. The blend of recorder virtuoso Alicia Crossley with the expressive and stylistically flexible powerhouse of Acacia Quartet yielded exciting results.

The works both on CD and heard live in concert were all by Australian composers. These works were commissioned, adapted or freshly recorded to make this project a significant musical event. The contribution of printed programme, CD cover design and other artworks from visual artist Clémentine Campardou’s watercolour workshop to the event merchandise elevated this concert to classy festival status.

What was truly classy and more touching about this afternoon however was the exposure and blend of recorders with the colourful and precise instrument we have come to know as Acacia Quartet. The string instruments demonstrated seamless blend to evoke vivid atmospheres and to speak as one. Also a thrill at this concert was the keen balance with the quartet and promotion of the recorder family by Alicia Crossley, correctly described in her programme bio as “a recorder rockstar” (Fish Fine Music) Continue reading ACACIA QUARTET AND ALICIA CROSSLEY- ‘MUSE’ CONCERT AND CD LAUNCH @ THE UTZON ROOM

AUSTRALIAN HAYDN ENSEMBLE ENDS 2018 WITH HAYDN’S FAREWELL

This image: Doree Dixon

HADYN’S FAREWELL -Erin Helyard directs an orchestral program of Haydn, Mozart and J.C. Bach.

The Australian Hadyn Ensemble concludes the year with regular collaborator Dr Erin Helyard, director of Pinchgut Opera, performing a wonderful orchestral program inspired by the Enlightenment.

J.C. Bach was an important influence on the young Mozart. His Symphony in G minor Op. 6 No. 6 is a signature work of the 18th century. Perhaps his darkest piece, it bursts with the essence of Sturm and Drang. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN HAYDN ENSEMBLE ENDS 2018 WITH HAYDN’S FAREWELL