Classical Music


In the first of its 2020 concert series showcasing classical music with a uniquely Australian edge, THE PHOENIX COLLECTIVE presents “Intricate Machines” – a concert inspired by mechanics, wheels, cogs, precision, construction & repetition. And they’ll play at five iconic, intimate venues in Sydney, the Central Coast and Canberra.

The imaginative program – an ode to the industrial revolution, the hum of a busy city and drive of a locomotive. Audiences will experience the complexity of Reich’s ‘Different Trains’ for CD and live quartet, Pärt’s mesmerising ‘Fratres’, Bach’s ‘Art of Fugue’ and Dvořák’s masterpiece ‘The American’ string quartet.

Launched by Charmain Gadd at her Crossroads Festival in 2018, the Phoenix Collective Quartet is a premier string quartet whose members come from the ranks of national and international orchestras such as Opera Australia Orchestra, Canberra Symphony, Sydney Symphony, BBC Philharmonic, Kammer Philharmonie Köln, Boston Symphony, and Academy of St Martin in the Fields. Founded and led by violinist Dan Russell, an accomplished performer here and abroad, it also features Yuhki Mayne (violin), Ella Brinch (viola) and Andrew Wilson (cello).

The 2020 concert series comprises four different programs at each venue (Feb, May-June, Sept & Nov) with a feast of different genres on offer: the virtuosic flair of Italian Baroque, the purity of folk music, French impressionism, the intense emotions of the romantic period, contemporary/jazz fusions and the meditative calm of minimalism. All performed with a sense of intimacy, engaging stage presence and vivid musicality.

Phoenix Collective String Quartet:
Intricate Machines – (2 Hours with interval)
Steve Reich, Different Trains
Arvo Pärt, Fratres | J.S Bach, Art of Fugue
Dvořák String Quartet No.12 Op.96, American

The Phoenix Collective will play the Mosman Art Gallery on the 14th February at 7pm and the 15th February at 2.30pm.

Info & Tickets:





CD Review – Across the Stars

Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin

The Recording Art’s Orchestra of Los Angeles/John Williams

DG 4797553

4 out of 5 stars

Anne-Sophie Mutter and John Williams belong to same mutual appreciation society.

Of Mutter, Williams writes: “Anne-Sophie Mutter is many things…..a great artist, a brilliant woman who brings honour to her country, and, through her many travels, a highly contributive and outstanding world citizen”.  Of Williams, Mutter writes: “There is only one John Williams! What he writes is just extraordinary. Every time I go to one of his films and there is a violin or cello, I think, I would like to play that! And now I have his wonderful translations of all these iconic themes.” Continue reading ACROSS THE STARS : ANNE SOPHIE MUTTER AND JOHN WILLIAMS


This was the inaugural concert by The Orchestra Project at the Verbrugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music . Two works were played – Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in D Minor and Mahler’s 4th Symphony in the Orchestra’s Sydney debut.

The Orchestra Project was established by conductor Fabian Russell in 2002 as a training ensemble for the development for the development of Australia’s best young orchestral musicians. This critically acclaimed ensemble provides opportunities for gifted young musicians to play alongside the very best musicians from Australia’s professional orchestras. Russell enthusiastically yet precisely conducted the rich , multi layered performance.

Harry Bennetts, Associate Concertmaster of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, was the soloist in the Mendelssohn and gave a bravura , dazzling performance full of finely nuanced phrasing , clarity and control yet with volcanic layers underneath .From its rich , sumptuous opening the Orchestra was in fine form. Throughout, Bennett’s solos were fast fiery and furious , full of explosive passion , or delicately yearning with the violin ‘singing ‘. In the first movement sometimes he darts glides and skitters, the Orchestra murmuring accompaniment. Continue reading THE ORCHESTRA PROJECT @ VERBRUGGEN HALL SYDNEY CONSERVATORIUM OF MUSIC


Above : Artistic Director of Bach Akadamie Australia, violinist Madeleine Easton

This was an effective event to both springboard us into Advent and to  celebrate the glory of J S Bach’s instrumental and vocal writing. Bach Akademie Australia’s Artistic Director Madeleine Easton led
the forces with grace, sensitivity, energetic emotional focus and an engaging Baroque swagger.

This Christmas concert contained crisply articulated rendering of instrumental and vocal works. It was at all times indeed a comfort to listen to, with its elevated tone putting us firmly in the Christmas spirit.

Performers filled the Christ Church St Lawrence with a well-guided expressive lilt in the instrumental and choral works alike. Joy resulted in this celebration of the Christmas story and the diversity of Bach’s reliable genius.

The highlight for me in this all-Bach historically informed performance buffet was easily the third and final cantata of the night. An impressive assembly of experienced early music instrumental and vocal experts gifted us the Cantata BWV 191 ‘Gloria in excelsis Deo’.

A full orchestra of over twenty players ably supported the excitement of soloists and full Bach Akademie Australia Choir. Together they gave us some of Bach’s well known material from the B minor Mass’ Gloria in its original guise.

As in all cantatas presented during this concert, the performance of Bach’s Gloria text setting was a pleasing outpouring of control from singers and instrumentalists. There was a breathtaking jubilation in the collaboration,with historically informed phrasing and articulation choices also imbued with exciting drama.

The Latin text in these stanzas of praise were deftly drawn for us by the choir of experienced Baroque singers with beautifully blended soloists from its ranks. The balance was delicately honed throughout.

Prior to inverval, the Orchestral Suite No 2 in B minor BWV 1067 provided a well characterised oasis from the dense narratives of the Christian nativity miracle. In a fine showcase for Mikaela Oberg on Baroque Flute, the seven movements including dance structure were well contrasted.

Above : This concert featured traverso flute player Mikaela Oberg.

In what was perhaps a world record for athletic fast tempo choice here in the final Badinerie, Oberg had her work cut out for her but rose to the occasion. Musical shape and gesture remained nicely intact despite such a choice of velocity to conclude a vivid performance of this suite’s contrasting colours.

The remainder of this concert celebrated Bach’s elaborate ease of text setting in cantatas for Christmas. These charming works were presented with clear
and eloquent narration.

To begin the concert, the intimate environment of the Saviour’s birth was gently rendered in the cantata Susser Trost BWV 151 by soloist Anna Sandström. Support from the twenty-three piece orchestra enabled the rejoicing to unfold smoothly and with interesting nuance.

The thirteen vocalists of the choir performed the cantata chorales with renewed warmth and extended brightness. These solid moments enabled us to step outside the detailed commentary of the rest of each work.

As shown later in the Gloria, the Bach Akademie Australia Choir has tremendous power in reserve and a stunning range of tone colours in their arsenal. These were particularly enhanced by the church acoustic.

Such group power was employed tastefully and authentically in this cantata and later in the concert when we were treated to Part Two of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio BWV 248. Madeleine Easton’s guidance and attention to the details of music and text combined reinforced the study of comfort, joy and sweetness surrounding the Christ Child. Satisfying results were created
through dynamic performances of Bach’s solo and duet writing.

These cantatas were fantastic choices for a Christmas concert. They were demanding enough to display the virtuosity of musicianship and instrumental or vocal skill from the assembled musicians. Solos and duets were spread across the different but choir members.

It also continued the supply of key Bach works to audiences live, on this occasion attractively packaged to reveal the composer’s abilities as a working musician at the Christmas season.




L’Arlesienne Suite – Georges Bizet

Concerto for two French Horns – Friedrich Kuhlau

Extracts from Romeo and Juliet – Sergei Prokofiev


Conductor: Thomas Tsai

Guest soloists: Laurie Liskowski and Cindy Simms


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’


Part of the Prelude in Tea series at the Independent Theatre , the latest concert was the wonderful Seraphim trio plus guest artist Martin Alexander in a scrumptiously delicious performance.

The Seraphim Trio pianist Anna Goldsworthy, violinist Helen Ayres and cellist Tim Nankervis for this national tour of piano quartets celebrating the Trio’s formative years at the Australian National Academy of Music. The Trio has become one of Australia’s most acclaimed and admired chamber ensembles and they were joined by fellow ANAM alumnus Martin Alexander on viola . There was fabulous rapport between the four and great intensity in their playing.

Mozart’s Piano Quartet in G minor, KV 478 was first , introduced and put in context by Alexander.  Written at the height of Mozart’s success in Vienna in 1785 it is very technically demanding, and there are some possible similarities to Beethoven’s works. The work was full of finely nuanced and balanced shading and drama. Continue reading PRELUDE IN TEA : SERAPHIM TRIO WITH MARTIN ALEXANDER @ THE INDEPENDENT


The wonderful concert that brought the ACO’s 2019 season to a close was entitled BRAHMS/DVORAK with the ACO in glorious rich and finely nuanced form under the leadership of Tognetti whose conducting was precise , vigorous and yet extremely expressive as well .

Andrew Ford’s ‘Fanfare for Neverland’ ( a world premiere) for solo trumpet as played by Visa Haarala up in the top gallery was a bright yet lyrical piece , with the trumpet slithering , skittering and sliding .

The Australian premiere of Andrew Norman’s Grand Turismo followed , using eight virtuoso violinists .It is a flurried , circular conversation between them , at times sharp and spiky then suddenly contrasted with soft lyrical segments and tiny pauses of stillness. The emphatic animated ensemble music has ominous pulsating under rhythms.

Brahms ‘Concerto for violin and cello in A Minor ‘(Double Concerto) made up the bulk of the first half , with the ACO enlarged to the size of a full symphony orchestra , a treat featuring Tognetti on violin and Timo-Veikko Valve on cello in an extraordinary partnership, Helena Rathbone beating time when Tognetti was playing . The entire work crackled with tension.

The first movement began stridently Valve on cello passionately , elegantly ‘singing’ then becoming fiery. lighter flowing sections were contrasted with scurrying orchestral swells .A duet between Tognetti and Valve was hovering lyrical and humming.  It was then Tognetti’s turn to ‘ sing’ on the violin in an eloquent , heartbroken fragile solo with the Orchestra dynamically accompanying. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA : BRAHMS AND DVORAK @ CITY RECITAL HALL


George Ellis is quite unique in the music world.  Who else loved The Beatles at age 4 and finished off conducting a motley mixture of music (including classical) for a living.  And arranges songs to boot! And is a composer! And is so energetic, he could pass for a 15 year old! What else can I say? Oh yes, he conducted at the 2000 Sydney Olympics!  He’s also had a hand in the music for the Bruce Beresford’s movies Mao’s Last Dancer and Ladies in Black.

I catch up with Ellis at his daughter’s flat where he’s baby-sitting his grandson.  I congratulate him for being one of the few celebrities who answer their fan’s comments on Facebook.  “I know this may sound ingenuous,” he says, “but I don’t do it for my own gratification….people react positively to my social media posts and I think it’s a nice thing that they’ve taken the time – even though it’s not much effort – but it’s still a thought….that’s one of the good things of social media.” Continue reading GEORGE ELLIS : BRINGING CLASSICAL MUSIC TO THE MASSES


The story of Christmas with its imagery of angels, shepherds, children, peace on earth and goodwill to mankind has inspired many a great composer throughout the centuries, however none more so than J.S Bach. This theme gave his genius free rein to compose music which continues to comfort, inspire and exult all who hear it.

Bach Akademie Australia presents his tender Cantata BWV 151 ‘Süsser Trost’ (Sweet Comfort), followed by Part 2 of his famous Christmas Oratorio featuring his sublime pastoral Sinfonia. Also in the program is the virtuosic Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor with baroque flautist Mikaela Oberg. Finally, crowning our celebration of the season is Cantata BWV 191 ‘Gloria’, his only cantata set in Latin, later used by Bach so brilliantly in his B minor Mass.

Madeleine Easton – Artistic Director
Bach Akademie Australia Orchestra and choir


Christ Church Street St Laurence November 29 at 7.30pm

St Patrick’s Cathedral Parramatta November 30 at 7.30pm

Holy Name Church Wahroonga Decemebr 1 at 2pm.







Midori Seiler – Guest Director and Violin
Skye McIntosh – Artistic Director

Midori Seiler is equally comfortable playing baroque violin concerti with orchestras such as Budapest Festival Orchestra or Tafelmusik, Toronto, as she is performing classical or romantic violin concerti with orchestras such as Anima Eterna, Concerto Köln or Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin.

Long-term concertmaster of Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin and Anima Eterna Brugge, she makes her Australian debut with the AHE as guest director and soloist in this dazzling season finale of Mozart and Haydn symphonies and concerti.

The program opens with Mozart’s bright and joyous Symphony No. 33. This is followed by his brilliant but lesser-known Violin Concerto No. 2 in D major showcasing Midori’s outstanding virtuosity and her poise in the beautiful slow movement. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN HAYDN ENSEMBLE : MIDORI AND MOZART



Sydney Chamber Choir


Tonight’s Eternity Alone – René Clausen

I have not your dreaming – Paul Stanhope

I beheld her, beautiful as a dove – Healey Willan

Fair in face – Healey Willan

Rise up, my love, my fair one – Healey Willan

The passing of the year – Jonathan Dove


A west Irish Ballad – Clare Maclean

Stāvi Stīvi, Ozolin – Ella Marcens

Sa nuit d’été – Morten Lauridsen

Sure on this shining night – Morten Lauridsen

Invocation and dance – David Conte

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:

Musical Director – Sam Allchurch

Pianists – Luke Byrne and Kate Johnston

Percussion – Adam Jeffrey and Trudy Leopard







A most glorious concert of magnificent playing .The Orchestra were in fine, dazzling form giving a rich, multi layered performance.

We began with TELEMANN’s Concerto for 4 violins in G major, TWV 40:201 directed by Matt Bruce. Its long stretched notes and flowing melody contrasted with Bruce’s sharp spiky solo. The music changed to a brighter atmosphere then back to being played with gravitas. The rest of the work, with more of the Orchestra joining the quartet , was a strong , dynamic statement leading to a brisk conclusion.

Then we heard TELEMANN’s Ouverture-Suite in C major, Water Music, TWV 55:C3 composed for the centenary celebrations of the Hamburg Admiralty in 1723. (yes Handel’s far more well known Water Music was written roughly about the same time ).The Orchestra was led by Ben Dollman with Paul Dyer on harpsichord Continue reading AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA : VIVALDI’S FOUR SEASONS @ CITY RECITAL HALL


Violinist Alexandre Da Costa..Pic Lawrence Lebat

A marvellous concert by the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra, energetically led by Dr Nicholas Milton. The Orchestra was in fine, robust form.

Beethoven’s powerful Egmont Overture, op. 84 was first ,with its strong blaring opening and strident strings. It was volcanically emphatic and passionate with its spinning melody and crashing turbulence, that was at one point balanced by a lilting two sided conversation between the various elements of the Orchestra. Also important is to note how the horns and trumpets were featured. Next year the Orchestra will be celebrating 250 years since Beethoven’s birth and this was a taster. Continue reading WILLOUGHBY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA : TITAN @ THE CONCOURSE


Pianist Dr Edward Neeman (Juilliard School) teams up with Violinist, Dan Russell (Artistic Director, Phoenix Collective) for a recital from Ye Olde England. Calm, restful works evoking scenes of lush green pastures and mother England. Violin and piano sonatas by Delius and Elgar pave the way for one of the most exquisite works in the violin repertoire, The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams, a work based on English poet, George Meredith’s famous poem.

The Australian-American pianist Edward Neeman has performed across five continents. Critics have lauded him as a “true artist” with “an excellent technique” who “isn’t afraid to put a distinctive stamp on whatever he touches, without resorting to mannerism.” A top prizewinner of numerous international piano competitions, including first prize in the Joaquín Rodrigo Competition in Madrid, Dr Neeman has appeared as a soloist with the Prague Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony, Melbourne Symphony, Kentucky Symphony, Symphony of Northwest Arkansas, and the American West Symphony among others.

Ye Olde England – Phoenix Collective Program:
Sonata for Violin and Piano No.1, Frederick Delius
‘The Lark Ascending’, Ralph Vaughan Williams
– Interval –
‘Molly on the Shore’, Percy Grainger
Sonata for Violin and Piano, Edward Elgar

Where, When & Tickets:

Thursday 21st November, 7pm – 9pm
Larry Sitsky Recital Room, ANU School of Music
Building 100, William Herbert Pl. Canberra

Saturday 23rd November, 2.30pm – 4.30pm
Christ Church, 10 Walker Street, Lavender Bay, North Sydney

Sunday 24th November, 2.30 – 4.30pm
Greenway Chapel
460 Avoca Dr, Green Point. Central Coast.

Phoenix Collective
“They brought this music alive through a dynamic performance…Phoenix know the music they perform, and they do it well…The group gave it their all in an exciting and captivating style. The audience loved it and it showed the individual talents of the group.”
R. Kennedy, City News

‘I often feel that the English repertoire is somewhat overlooked in classical music and unfairly so. It’s lyrically beautiful while on the other hand complex. I’m excited to present this balanced program of English masters.’
Dan Russell, AD & Violinist, Phoenix Collective

…Russell achieves an exquisite translucence in his violin’s upper register…
John Shand, Limelight Magazine


Above : Acacia Quartet -Lisa Stewart, Myee Clohessy, Stefan Duwe and Anna Marrin-Scrase.

Titled ‘The American’, this concert by Acacia Quartet explored exciting elements of newness across three quite different works. All quartets and not just the final effervescent ‘American’ Quartet from Dvorák written in the ‘New World’ of America reflected deep reaction to the physical or emotional environment, with Acacia’s signature precise and fresh ensemble playing delighting the audience.

The concert began with Mozart’s String Quartet No 15 in D minor. This work from the set of ‘Haydn’ quartets explores the newness being forged in the genre by Haydn using all instruments equally.

This opening work displayed Mozart’s fine sense of drama alongside Acacia‘s fine synergy, solid as a rock intonation and communication through their intricately nuanced ensemble voice. Continue reading ACACIA QUARTET: ‘THE AMERICAN’ @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE NORTH SYDNEY


This Met Concert, the fifth and last in 2019 for The Metropolitan Orchestra, was a rich and lush offering with which to conclude yet another busy year. Three works were programmed around an expressive performance of Max Bruch’s first violin concerto at this concert’s centre.

Restraint, precisIon and clean, elegant placement of structures within Borodin’s ‘ In the Steppes of Central Asia’ (1880) was a charming opening to this concert. This Russian composer’s  gift for clear and expressive orchestration was here realised with signature clarity by chief conductor Sarah-Grace Williams.

The contrasted characters of themes for the Russian troops or Asian caravan of the story were  delineated with care and well articulated here. These familiar programmatic themes smoothly and easily moved around sections of the orchestra, resonating both withIn the cultural clash of the musical program and the still ambience of this venue.

It was then time to launch into a definite highlight and crowd pleaser in this concert, the Violin Concerto No. 1 (1868) by Max Bruch. In Met Concert #5, TMO‘s concertmaster Victoria Jacono-Gilmovich made a comfortable shift to solo status. She gifted to us a bold, brusque but always lyrical performance of this audience favourite.

Each of her successive utterances above the orchestra in this concerto’s first movement were  launched commandingly. This violinist always displayed a fine sensitivity to melodic shape.  Her violin voice soared with repeated grace into its upper register throughout this arresting opening.

TMO Yet again proved itself to be an intelligently supportive emotional equal for the chosen Met Concert soloist. Bruch’s undulating artistic landscapes were painted as a vivid yet subtle scene in this collaboration.

Jacono-Gilmovich’s poise and elevated musicianship provided many beautiful moments during the concerto’s central movement. With no hint of indulgent overplaying, her continued lyricism and heartfelt delivery of her unique eloquence led us through this movement’s stillness in secure strides. We then leapt with her into the finale which was abounding with joy and energy as she conversed brightly with her TMO colleagues.

This violinist’s commissioned encore piece was a version of the song ‘Smile’ from Chaplin’s film ‘Modern Times’, as later sung by Nat King Cole. This return of the music to instrumental performance but now arranged for violin and guitar with a Spanish feel was a compelling transformation.  As a tribute to the violinist’s brother and as an innovative piece of popular and classical music crossover, it was a mighty serving of humanity on top of the typical warmth from the TMO stage.

Above: Chief Conductor Sarah-Grace Williams with TMO. Featured image: TMO Concertmaster Victoria Jacono-Gilmovich as soloist playing the Bruch Violin Concerto No 1 with TMO

With the entire second half of this concert taken up with Symphony No 5 (1919) by Sibelius, TMO and its conductor were able to display its interpretative skill. The demanding strands of this work which constantly divide the orchestra were drawn together with apparent ease by Sarah- Grace Williams. Her  skilful approach to pacing and shaping any symphonic structure encountered was as always very rewarding to watch.

TMO and Sarah-Grace Williams worked hard throughout the performance and especially in the symphony’s first half  to recreate Sibelius’ catalogue of colour via each new division or  combination of the instruments.

Admirable  pictorial clarity resulted from such realisation of the score’s intricacies. A sensible deciphering of the score was done with regards to the featuring and blending of lines within the separate instrumental choirs.

Organic development of tension towards tutti declarations was gradually fostered by TMO , enhancing balance of the work’s architecture and the element of surprise for the listener. Melodic lyricism and accompaniment sound effects were addressed with equal intensity as Sibelius’ sonic experiments were brought to life.

This symphony’s six strong chords to finish also heralded the end of TMO’s 2019 Met Season. Coming to an end too was TMO’s eleventh year as an orchestra, and the end of a seven-year stint at the ABC Centre. The launched 2020 season  includes more world premieres, family concerts and chamber music concerts to further diversify and cement TMO’s unique place in the Sydney live music scene.


Australian Chamber Orchestra : Intimate Bach


A magnificent , many layered concert that had this reviewer in raptures at times .It was also full of contrasting but associated sounds .At times aspiring to be futuristic it is also a glorious celebration of Bach ( and Dean’s ) music. Richard Tognetti, Erin Helyard, Brett Dean and ACO Principal Cello, Timo-Veikko Valve are all featured .
The stage as the audience enters is set with a delicate candle, harpsichord and organ.

The concert opens with Tognetti’s spellbinding performance of BACH’s Sonata No.2 in A minor for solo violin, BWV1003: III. Andante that was haunting and compelling , powerful and hypnotic.

Bachs Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord No.2 in A major, BWV1015 15 I. Dolce II. Allegro III. Andante un poco IV. Presto followed .The work is a trio sonata , the first movement soaring and flowing with delicate celestial music played by Helyard on the organ , Tognetti on violin which changed to a discussion between the two. The second movement was brisk , crisp and precise with Helyard on harpsichord and Timo-Veikko Valve on cello .The third movement , circular and floating, – with Helyard with one hand on the chamber organ , the other on the harpsichord , all three performers exchanging thoughts .Tognetti led the discussion though , like a showy tenor . The final movement ( Helyard back on harpsichord) had an explosive opening and was bustling and thrumming to the dynamic conclusion.

The trio were joined by violist Atte Kilpeläinen for segments from Bach’s Three-Part Inventions, or Sinfonias, for keyboard interspersed with Gyorgy Kurtag Signs, Games and Messages: Hommage à J.S.B. 2 .The atmosphere of the single candle light ( with the glowing screens of the performer’s tablets) was drastically changed with the use of a vertical flaring fluorescent light, that identified the Kurtag sections .There was also a piece by Marin Marais’ – Sonnerie de Sainte-Geneviève, given a most vivacious , robust performance with rather boisterous cello . The music ranged from swooping and swirling , bubbling and circling , to infectious dance rhythms, fiery, sharp percussive segments all leading to the cascading , rippling yearning achingly eloquent conclusion , Bach’s Chorale Prelude “Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ”, BWV639 3.

Very atmospheric , Brett Dean’s Approach (Prelude to a Canon) was first after interval , its Australian premiere , a commission by the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra , with Atte Kilpeläinen leading , Hellyard on harpsichord and cellists Valve, Julian Thompson and Melissa Barnard, and Maxime Bibeau on bass .At times it was sharp and spiky , trembling and oscillating , other times scampering , building to a crescendo then a softer , quieter end , lead by Dean and Kilpeläinen , the others quivering underneath.

The final work was Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No.6 in B-flat major, BWV1051 14 I. [Allegro] II. Adagio ma non tanto III. Allegro notable for the major viola parts and absence of violins.
The first movement was crisp, cold and very precise almost like intergalactic sounds beamed from a satellite disc.The second movement was tender , lyrical and eager with Helyard moving between organ and harpsichord , Kilpeläinen and Dean interlacing their melodies.The final movement was sprightly almost dancelike in its melody, with fast and furious violas , the cellos and double basses far more restrained.

While perhaps there were few performers on stage , this was an intrepid , gargantuan performance.

The Australian Chamber Orchestra’s INTIMATE BACH tours nationally 19-30 October 2019
Running time two hours including interval


Above : 2019 Freedman Classical Fellowship finalist, Baroque Violist Katie Yap. Featured image : 2019 Freedman Classical Fellowship winner, bassist Rohan Dasika.

The exacting criteria for selection of the annual Freedman Classical Fellow are bound to produce worthy and highly interesting musician as winner. The final concert  process – a live performance display to support each finalist’s industry nomination, project description and interviews is always bound to be quite a stunning option for an audience.

That was definitely the case for the 2019 Freedman Classical Fellowship concert. Three finalists, all lower string player voices this year, delivered impressive samples of their uniqueness. All finalists supplied convincing evidence as to why they could easily advance Australian music making in an innovative future direction.

Bassist Jonathan Heilbron performed his composition and other recent music for double bass, creating a bracket of expansive and sustained modern effects and soundscapes. The potential for him to successfully create new music of a prolonged length as a concert project and also study the impact on sleeping audiences of the exquisite,lengthy environments created was clear via his hypnotically focussed performances.

The diverse concert and touring aspirations of Katie Yap’s presentation suggested a novel placement of the viola and its Australian voice as she aspires to  study of the concerns of musical origins and performance place. Contemporary and Baroque repertoire all played on Baroque viola was, like for her fellow finalists, a considerable challenge and promotion for her instrument. It was also a challenging, arresting piece of programming for this finals concert.

Above : 2019 Freedman Classical Fellowship finalist, bassist Jonathan Heilbron

The last performance bracket on the day came from the eventual Freedman Classical Fellowship winner. Bassist Rohan Dasika’s bold manipulation of traditional Western musical intellectualism and sound-worlds did feel quite joyously fresh is a standout way. Viola da gamba music by J S Bach arranged for double bass with accordion catapulted us way out of our comfort zone and into brave new territory.

The winner’s mixing of this sound world with musical gesturing akin to South Asian mediation was smoothly handled and beautifully played. His goal to work, compose and perform using his instrument in Chennai will be a significant piece of cultural exchange. The instant fascination for the listener following the  creative morphing of musical tradition was a pleasure to witness.

Dasika’s  concern with promoting new music for this instrument, discussion of  identity and a humble personal inquisitiveness for  creating music or programmes with refreshed  spontaneity here were fitting qualities of a Freedman Fellow, rightfully awarded.

Above : Guest artist at this year’s finalist concert, guitarist and 2002 Freedman Fellow Karin Schaupp.

As well as the placement of precious project ideas and commanding performance chunks from the three finalists, we as audience were also treated to a bracket of four pieces by the guitarist Karin

Since winning the 2002 Freedman Classical Fellowship her career has continued to grow. This concert’s performance of a huge variety of works by Sor, Regonsi, Stanhope and Albeniz showed us
just how much. It also showed that once a quality performer and  innovator worthy of this prize, always a compelling and capable musician.

The formidable segments of this final were delightfully drawn together through the commentary of ABC Classic FM presenter Genevieve Lang. Her informed words and the final address by experienced Freedman Fellowship judge Roland Peelman kept audience appreciation of and pride in the young finalists at a very elevated level.

It was an exciting and inspiring concert this year and we look forward to the continued efforts of all finalists, already with considerable local and international reputations.  All three finalists possess an obvious ability and urge to significantly stretch the current ways their instrument can touch audiences both here and abroad. The future is bright, bold and thought -provoking indeed.



“Soprano Danielle Grant was a stunning performer of the texts in a range of languages…the distinct flavours of each song were instantly captured.” Sydney Arts Guide

A lovely Sunday afternoon concert is to be presented by soprano Danielle Grant and pianist Diana Weston at the Mosman Art Gallery.

The concert will feature songs that are nice, songs that are nasty, songs that are just plain weird. But they all will charm you in one way or another.

There’s Britten’s fascinating but unsettling A Charm of Lullabies, a selection from Christopher Robin’s Song Book (Harold Fraser-Simson/Milne) and more. It’s surprising how insightful a 3-year-old can be! Some floral gifts by Ann Carr-Boyd, and a concoction of spells in songs based on three Walter de la Mare poems by Diana Blom. Intertwining the song-sets are sonatas by Johann Christian Bach – tuneful, playful and charming.

The concert will take place on Sunday November 3 at 3pm at the Mosman Art Gallery, 1 Art Gallery Way, Mosman.

Featured imaged- Soprano  Danielle Grant


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


The final concert in The Metropolitan Orchestra’s eleventh season will cap off another incredible year of music-making with an energised performance setting the scene for an electrifying new year when TMO officially launch their 2020 concert season.

Conducted by Artistic Director and Chief Conductor Sarah-Grace Williams, Met Concert 5 begins with an absolute concert favourite, Borodin’s ‘In The Steppes of Central Asia’. This thematic work sets the scene for an incredible night filled with wonderful musical imagery. Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No 1 is one of the most famous and most performed violin concertos of all time. TMO introduces their vivacious concertmaster, Victoria Jacono-Gilmovich as soloist for this lyrical and complex work for violin. Continue reading THE METROPOLITAN ORCHESTRA MET CONCERT 5 : BRUCH AND SIBELIUS


Well known French entertainer Milko Foucault – Larche has added a fresh approach to the Aznavour Catalogue, teaming up with internationally acclaimed classical musicians to provide a new take on some of the amazing songs of music legend Charles Aznavour in a totally unique musical experience where Classical meets French Popular music.

Milko has drawn from the Aznavour collections to carefully curate this spectacular musical event to be held at Club Five Dock this Sunday.

Classical guitarist Giuseppe Zangari and Violinist Victoria Jacono bring their expertise to this new production accompanied by Stephen Malcolm Brown on Piano & Special Guest Cabaret Performer Rikelle Brown.

This is Milko’s second project for the year following an earlier show Piaf & Aznavour – Back in Time.

AZNAVOUR in a Classical Sense commences at 2.30 pm on Sunday 13 October 2019 at Club Five Dock, 66 Great North Road, Five Dock.

Price: $27 Bookings: Sticky Tickets 

All tickets sold are general admission.



Some legends never die.  I suppose that’s why they’re legends.  Maria Anna Cecilia Sofia Kalogerpoulos   (shortened to Callas) born 2 December, 1923 was one.  Articles, like this one about her have been written – even a documentary film – and she’s been dead for more than 40 years.  What fascinates us still about her life? Other better singers have passed away and they’ve almost been forgotten. What’s so different about Maria Callas?   People and critics who derided her when she was alive now have nothing but praise. Even her debut at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York as Bellini’s Norma, and the following six performances, in October 1956 were booed.  Of course it didn’t help that preceding her Metropolitan debut, Time magazine wrote scathingly about her temper, her supposed rivalry with Italian soprano Renata Tebaldi and her severed relationship with her mother.

In those heady days – the 1950s and 60s – Callas was just as much followed by the paparazzi as Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift are these days.  And yet her voice could not be classified as a thing of beauty. It was deemed uneven and forced.   Continue reading CLASSICAL MUSIC LEGEND : MARIA CALLAS