Classical Music


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


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.




Above : Pianist Sally Whitwell played Phillip Glass during this concert. Featured image : composer Nico Muhly.

Omega Ensemble’s recent concert afforded its audience the chance to immerse itself in the delicate densities of modern American Music. Masterful composition deserves masterful playing. This was achieved easily here. The high quality of performance assisted the audience in a welcome refresh or discovery of the programmed works.

This programme had a compelling swoop, from the music of Phillip Glass and John Adams through to works from the last fifteen years by Nico Muhly. As well as preparation for this concert, Muhly has been working on an ABC Classics recording during this visit of all works featured in the concert, alongside the Phillip Glass Sonata for Violin and Piano.

The excitement and joy of this collaboration was obvious as the assembled musicians delivered Muhly’s acclaimed musical architecture and direct expression in the second half of the concert. The first half though belonged to American minimalist masters Phillip Glass and John Adams.

Who better to lead this event’s tribute to Phillip Glass’ music than pianist Sally Whitwell ? This appearance follows on from her world-premiere performances of the complete Etudes by Glass with the composer and the release of a recording of the twenty pieces on ABC Classics last year.

The two chosen etudes to open this evening, numbers 2 and 11, were executed with fine gradation of layers. There was beautiful organic movement towards any climatic moments. Glass’ reiterated, slightly changing shapes and emphases were nicely handled meditative musical ingredients here.

Quality interpretation of Phillip Glass continued when Sally Whitwell was joined by violinist Alexandra Osborne. Their performance of Glass’ Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano displayed great communication both between them as soloists.

These musicians succeeded in clearly outlining this master minimalist’s challenging and relentless motoric expression with seamless calm and pleasing contour.

Above : Omega Ensemble musicians.

Quite a highlight of the first half of the concert was the addition of Shaker Loops by John Adams in its string septet version. This was more joyous exploration by Omega Ensemble musicians of the subtleties of this work.

It was a performance brimming with energy and a clear complexities for the listener. As such an exemplary rendering of minimalism from late last century, it was style which nicely complemented the previous works by Phillip Glass. It obviously pleased the modern audience assembled.

Following interval we were able to immerse ourselves in the lush sound world of the most recent American Master in the programme, Nico Muhly. Instrumental works from 2004 (By All Means) and 2017 (No Uncertain Terms) sculpt influences from as far and wide as Weelkes, Byrd, Webern and Steve Reich into stunning Muhly-an microcosms.

The musical result of these creative structures from such an artisan as Muhly are busy textures in constant and extremely engaging flux. The continnuum of fresh ideas intersect and are emitted in fascinating streams of tonal colour combinations.

At this event these works contrasted with the reiterations of Glass and Adams but had a similar instantly contagious energy. It was a thrill to hear Muhly’s compositions live. They were played by Omega Ensemble with bold and joyous abandon.

Above : Baritone Brett Brown, who performed the world premiere of Nico Muhly’s ‘Unexpected News’ with Omega Ensemble in this concert.

The much awaited and widely publicised event in this concert was the world premiere of Muhly’s song with instrumental accompaniment, Unexpected News. This work has a directness and svelte sensuality of vocal line to match the matter of a fact description of gay rensezvous in C.P Cavafy’s poem ‘Two Young Men, 23 to 24 Years Old’.

With inimitable clear complexity once more in his writing for extended instrumental ensemble with percussion, Muhly sets the subtle explicit nature of Cavafy’s brief statements with lovely filigree from well-blended instrumental fragments.

As throughout the entire concert, musical elements were brought together cleanly by conductor Gordon Hamilton. Baritone Brett Brown delivered Cavafy’s candid text on same sex union with deliciously  animated directness.

Brown keenly communicated his well-blended lines with both us and the ensemble. The premiere was an exciting birth of this work to the world and a fitting conclusion to a fine collaboration between all assembled musicians of and the visiting master Muhly to our shores,


This concert will see the Ensemble perform a rare chamber version of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4, along with a virtuosic Flute Sextet by Boccherini and Mozart’s much-loved String Quartet in D minor.

It has been suggested that Mozart may have written his string quintets K. 515 and K. 516 to impress King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia and to surpass the quintets written by Boccherini. If true, this seems to have gone un-noticed by both the King and Boccherini. Boccherini’s divertimento Sextet for Flute and Strings contains all the drama and textures we have come to love and expect from his music with its Spanish and Italian inspiration. Mozart’s String Quartet in D minor, described as one of his best quartets, will not disappoint with its achingly beautiful melancholic opening. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN HAYDN ENSEMBLE PRESENTS BEETHOVEN 4


Always pleasant at the Independent Theatre with their famous afternoon tea included in the ticket price, the audience were treated to a superb performance by Seraphim Trio, its members coming from Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.

Opening the program was Elegie by Joseph Suk, based on the poems of Julius Zeyer about the legendary Prague fortress Vyšehrad (sounds like vee-sher-rahd). This fortress was considered the seat of ancient Czech kings and now houses a cemetery with some of the greatest Slavic artists and composers including Smetana and Dvorak. Elegie was written to commemorate the 1st anniversary of Zeyer’s passing and offered a serene view of the fortress, its legends and occupants.

Next, the World Premiere of a work commissioned by Prof Dimity Hall composed by Richard Mills Portraits and Memories. With a format reminding us of Mussorgsky’s Pictures of an Exhibition the work alternates between a common themed promenade, various Portraits and attached Memories. Sometimes the Memory had a similar feel to the portrait, other times completely opposite. Though never visually revealed, the audience were left to their imagination of what the Portraits were. For example, the first Portrait sounded like a happy couple but the Memory was more like sharp words and unsettled companionship. Continue reading THE SERAPHIM TRIO @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE


Above : Composer Brett Dean, whose String Quartet No. 3 : Hidden Agendas was premiered during this tour for Musica Viva. Featured image:  Doric String Quartet members Alex Redington (violin), Helene Clement (viola), Ying Xue (violin) and John Myerscough (cello).

Doric String Quartet from the UK has just completed an extensive concert and educational tour of the country, playing Haydn, Beethoven and a new work by Brett Dean. These works were effective in highlighting this ensemble’s polished dramatic skill. The programme constantly displayed their abilities as musicians to communicate atmosphere along bold independent trajectories as well as via their unified quartet voice.                Continue reading MUSICA VIVA PRESENT THE DORIC STRING QUARTET @ CITY RECITAL HALL


Last weekend saw two family concerts from the Woollahra Philharmonic Orchestra held at the St Columba Uniting Church in Woollahra, Sydney. The orchestra was founded in 1996 comprised of a mix of amateur and professional musicians with a shared passion to enrich the community with their wonderful concerts throughout the year. Titled “Destinations and Adventures” the program featured a mix of crowd pleasers from film and theatre ideal for younger audience members and newcomers to classical music.

Despite the winter temperatures and frequent downpours, they had a full house with the crowd spilling over into the choir seats on each side. Musicians were decked out in fun costumes, helium balloons waved in the air scattered amongst the orchestra seats, the atmosphere was warm and welcoming. Many of the children arrived in costume as well.

Beginning with a blast from the Star Wars Suite by John Williams was a brilliant way to grab their attention leaving many faces bursting with an infectious grin or simply with jaw dropped. So often movie goers don’t realise the magnificent music they are hearing on the screen has been produced by an orchestra so it’s a great way to connect the dots. Continue reading WOOLLAHRA PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA : DESTINATIONS AND ADVENTURES

Tangos and Tchaikovsky with The Metropolitan Orchestra

The Metropolitan Orchestra’s (TMO) next Met Concert on July 6th titled “Tangos and Tchaikovsky” will feature Tchaikovsky’s masterful Serenade for Strings followed by a world-premiere performance featuring pianist-composer Daniel Rojas. Led by Artistic Director and Chief Conductor Sarah-Grace Williams, these two works performed by TMO’s inspired string section will have the audience swaying in their seats in a night of passion fuelled energy. Continue reading Tangos and Tchaikovsky with The Metropolitan Orchestra


Discover the difference a generation makes. Johann Sebastian and sons Carl Philip Emmanuel and Johann Christian, each separated by twenty years, demonstrate diverging styles, tap into the trends of the day and display their own unique personalities. This program demonstrates the intricate and abstruse style of the great JS, the expressive and eccentric one of Emmanuel, and the lyrically lovely one of Christian in sonatas for various combinations of strings, all played on period instruments.

With Stephen Freeman and Shaun Warden (violins), Shaun Ng (viola da gamba) and Diana Weston (harpsichord).

Saturday July 13 @ 4pm at Mosman .Gallery, 1 Art Gallery Way, Mosman

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Australian Haydn Ensemble

“A wonderful journey into musical France in the late 18th Century”

A delightful concert was performed by the Australian Haydn Ensemble (AHE) titled ‘FRENCH TWIST’ on the 4th June 2019 at the intimate Utzon Room at Sydney’s Opera House. This was the second concert in AHE’s 2019 season and the program included works by Mozart and Haydn which were primarily written for a French audience in the latter part of the18th century as well as two quartets by lesser known French classical composers, Hacinthe Jadin and Francois Devienne.

The program began with Mozart’s ‘Flute Quartet in A major K298’ which was the last of Mozart’s four flute quartets, written later for a group of his friends. It is light and airy with vivid contrasts beautifully played by flautist Melissa Farrow (on loan from the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra where she is principal flautist). Lovely balance between the flute and strings and nice transition of the main variations on a theme by Hoffmeister between Viola, Flute and accompanying strings. The ‘Menuetto’ was well paced whilst all players handled the varying tempo markings in the final movement which Mozart wrote to amuse, allowing each player greater contrasted musical expression. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN HAYDN ENSEMBLE : FRENCH TWIST



Part of the Vivid Music program. the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra was in fine form for this exciting ,challenging concert that included two world premieres.

Guest conductorFabian Russell led the Orchestra elegantly yet energetically with precise control.

The concert began with Maurice Ravel’s Le tombeau le Couperin , a work dedicated to friends and acquaintances the composer lost in in the first World War While. Inspired by Couperin, the work is distinctly 20th Century.

The first movement with its shimmering harp and strings rippled and flowed .The second movement opened strongly and featured the woodwind. The melody was passed around the various sections of the Orchestra and then a second bouncy, bounding melody was taken and developed. The third movement was mostly a dialogue between the string sections that builds to a sweeping crescendo then calms and becomes lyrical, almost birdlike but with rumbling undertones beneath. The fourth movement was off to a crashing furious opening, the Orchestra a whirlwind that led to the violent scurrying conclusion. Continue reading WILLOUGHBY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA : PASTORAL @ THE CONCOURSE