Classical Music


Above : Piano soloist Clemens Leske, who performed the Piano Concerto No 3 by Rachmaninoff. Featured image: TMO with Chief Conductor Sarah-Grace Williams.

The latest Met Concert from The Metropolitan Orchestra was a mesmerising event full of fine intensity, clarity and sensuality we would expect from music of the Russian masters. Attention to detail and a consummate realisation of any atmospheric challenge were once more hallmarks of TMO’s concert package.

This orchestra was joined by local pianist Clemens Leske to present the awesome ‘ Rach 3’. There was stunning synchronicity and emotional unison in their combined exploration of subtleties and
sheer power in this famous concerto.

The showcase for TMO alone in this Met Concert was Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. This sprawling suite of programmatic intricacy and dramatic musical narrative was deliciously rendered
by TMO’s skilful storytellers across all orchestral sections.

Rimsky-Korsakov’s preoccupation with the exotic oriental themes require delicate enunciation throughout this work. The colourful scenes and sentiments suggested in the music and depictipon of the voice of the Sultana Sheherazade crave crystal clear delivery from  orchestral sections and solo instruments employed. Continue reading THE METROPOLITAN ORCHESTRA-MET CONCERT 2 RUSSIAN NIGHTS @ EUGENE GOOSSENS HALL


201118, Sydney: Andre Rieu in Sydney. Foto: Marcel van Hoorn.

One of the world’s most popular musical artists – Dutch violinist, conductor and entertainer André Rieu – has announced that his 2019 Maastricht concert will screen in more than 120 cinemas nationally across Australia on the weekend of July 27-28, as well as Sydney’s iconic State Theatre (Sunday, July 28 only).

André’s hometown concerts this year will be themed as a dedication to the waltz – the dance that helped launch his career more than three decades ago. André’s hugely popular Maastricht summer concert series is staged in the historic town’s atmospheric medieval square – the Vrijthof – where the Maestro will perform with his 60-
piece Johann Strauss Orchestra, who have toured the world with him for over thirty years, plus a cast of over 100 dancers, as well as special guests, renowned sopranos and his
Platin Tenors.

The concert in cinemas will take audiences behind-the-scenes and feature an exclusive stage-side interview with André, and there are always some surprises.

The majestic waltz has been such an inspiration to André Rieu throughout his career that its three-four beat has become, in many ways, the rhythm of his life. When he performed with a
salon orchestra as a violin student, the Maestro says the first waltz he played was a revelation and he was immediately spellbound.
Waltzes have starred in André’s work ever since.

From an international football match at Amsterdam stadium in 1995, when André filled the half-time interval with the performance of a classic waltz, to his Maastricht concerts of 2011, where André premiered ‘And The Waltz Goes On’, composed by Oscar-winning actor Sir Anthony Hopkins. André has composed
many waltzes and since 1987, he and his Johann Strauss Orchestra have been delighting audiences all over the world with their magnificent renditions of classic waltzes.

André says: “Once again I am delighted to welcome fans from Australia and New Zealand into my hometown of Maastricht, via their cinema screens in 2019! It is a magical way of seeing what for me every year is a wonderful occasion! This year will be extra special –performing the music of my heart: the Waltz. Come and join us for “The Beautiful Blue Danube” and many more surprises, some of which we will reveal during the weeks to come! I want everyone to be waltzing in the cinema aisles!’

Sydney Arts Guide has ten double passes to give away to this film. Be one of the first to email with Andre Rieu Giveaway in the subject heading and please provide your postal address. Winners will be advised by email.



This is the latest joyous, astonishing collaboration, their third,  between the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Circa that had the audience in raptures. Don’t miss it. The audience did not want to breathe or blink in case they missed something.

It is an inspired pastiche by Paul Dyer and Yaron Lifschitz, with music from 16th and 17th-century England and featuring the beautiful voices of sopranos Jane Sheldon and Lauren Stephenson.

The set design by Yaron LifschitzLibby McDonnell and Richard Clarke is inspired by the idea of a clipped formal garden at a stately 17th-century mansion : a green covered area represents the manicured lawn .The middle area has tumbling mats , there is a large blank screen at the back used for projections and a huge hoop. Various sized white plinths (which also become props) are included and the Circa cast are carried on as statues hidden under drapes. Peter Rubie’s lighting design is dramatic and atmospheric.

It is perhaps, sort of like A Midsummer Night’s Dream – our Titania being Jane Sheldon who magically brings the statues ‘alive’. Sheldon appears in a striking red and black gown that includes a floral design. The Circa cast are costumed in silvery grey costumes that ripple in the light. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA AND CIRCA :  ENGLISH BAROQUE @ CITY RECITAL HALL


Experience the essence of eighteenth century France in this chamber music program of Devienne, Rameau, Jadin, Mozart and Haydn by the Australian Haydn Ensemble led by Artistic Director Skye McIntosh.

Mozart’s Flute Quartet in A major opens this French feast of chamber music. Although not written in France, the last movement of this charismatic work contains a French style Rondo highlighting Mozart’s comical reputation with the tempo indication: “not too fast, then not too slow. So-so, with great elegance and expression”.

Lesser-known French composer Hyacinthe Jadin dedicated his first set of three string quartets to Haydn. The Ensemble presents his beautiful String Quartet Op. 3 No. 1. Haydn’s influence is apparent in this delightful and playful work. Following this, the Devienne Flute Quartet Op. 16 No. 3 darkens the tone with its brooding opening movement in B minor.

The turbulent mood continues with Haydn’s Symphony No. 87 in a string quartet arrangement believed to have been penned by Haydn himself. The symphony was part of his commission in the 1780s for the Parisian-based group Concerts de la Loge Olympique.

The program closes with a fittingly French work, Rameau’s Cinquième Concert from Pièces de clavecin en concerts, paying homage to earlier composers Forqueray and Marais.

There will be two performances:-

Date: Sunday June 2
Time: 3pm
Venue: Independent Theatre, North Sydney
Tickets: $35 – $60
Bookings: 1800 334 388 or or purchase at the door
Facebook Event Page:

Date: Tuesday June 4
Time: 7pm
Venue: Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House
Tickets: $35 – $80
Bookings: 9250 7777 or or purchase at the door
Facebook Event Page:


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The Opera House Concert Hall lends itself quite well to a transformation into a vast cavern. The opening of this performance found the audience in an enormous cathedral cave bathed in an eerie light ..the massive organ pipes were stalactites and the doughnuts enormous shimmering droplets of water.

It was a perfect setting for Antony Pitts XLX Mente Cordis Sui (in the imagination of their hearts).. a 50 part motet . From the dark recesses of the transfigured hall..north south east west and central..came 100 voices, choristers discerned only by their illuminated song sheets, their voices an array  of Gregorian style chants in a multiple of directions.
The motet was a sound bridge between Bachs Magnificat and Mozarts Great Mass. Pitts is an Australian composer with a provenance of international performed works, and this composition was specifically commissioned by Brett Weymark , conductor and artistic director of the Sydney Philharmonia choirs. It was a world premiere.
Bachs Magnificat in D major  is one of the cornerstones of the church’s choral liturgy. “My Soul doth magnify the Lord”. Also called the Song of Mary now that she is to be the mother of Christ, and of the humility she feels that she has been chosen. And it is an affirmation of the power and the glory of god written by a penitent and humble Bach.
 And then came the Mozart Great Mass in C Minor.
From the opening Kyrie to its final Hosanna this was a full-throated adoration of The Creator and His Servant Christ.
Soprano Sara Macliver and Mezzo soprano Anna Dowsley sang their heads their heads off. Mclivers voice soared to effortlessly to fill the entire auditorium .Following her so did Anna Dowsley. It was an outpouring of faith and religiosity… captivating in its intensity.
The 150 plus choir was a wall of sound. Visceral. Alive. Sensitive to all the nuance and subtlety of the mass.
It was a huge conglomeration of Capella and Choristers and Florian Lohmann conducted it all with verve and precision…to be met at the end with a thunderous applause.
This was music from a time when God was in his Heaven and all was right perfect and secure on Earth.
It was also a rare moment in the choral history of Sydney.  The concert took place on Sunday 21 April, 2019 at the Sydney Opera House.

Phoenix Collective Concert #2 : The Baroque Bizarre

Phoenix Collective presents Concert #2: The Baroque Bizarre. Performed by Phoenix Baroque Trio, this concert will highlight the quirky, intoxicating and virtuosic nature of the Baroque: great works by master composers Bach and Vivaldi, and just as impressive works by lesser-known composers Castello, Biber and Schmelzer. This is an eclectic program exploring the realms of tone colour, experimentation and virtuosity. Also featured in this concert is the newly acquired and restored ‘c1750 Tyrolean violin’ set up scordatura with gut and crossed strings for Biber’s ‘The Resurrection Sonata’ and used in the first half of the concert. Setting up a fascinating comparison to the second half, which will be played on a 2009 violin from Cremona, Italy. Continue reading Phoenix Collective Concert #2 : The Baroque Bizarre


This May, Momentum Ensemble will immerse audiences in the ornate music of eighteenth century, exploring the intricacies and sophistication which inspired the composers of the baroque era.

The first half of the eighteenth century gave rise to a new genre of French opera, the tragédie en musique; a style of operatic writing that truly comes to life in Rameau’s Dardanus. The orchestral suite captures all of the intrigue and emotion that led Dardanus to be hailed as an acclaimed operatic work, and one of Rameau’s most inspired musical creations.

The remainder of the concert features uplifting music by François Francœur and Johann Friedrich Fasch; lesser-known, yet esteemed composers who were considered innovators of their time. Harpsichord virtuoso Erin Helyard leads Momentum Ensemble as they present this charming collection of Baroque works in the sophisticated surrounds of the Art Gallery of NSW.

Admission to the concert is free, but audience members must register for tickets.

May 12, 2019, 7pm at the Art Gallery of New South Wales

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A very exciting concert the latest in the Willoughby Symphony season is ETERNITY , led by guest conductor Michelle Leonard OAM .
The first half of the program was Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in B Minor Op 104 with a stellar performance by Bennett Tsai . Leonard conducted dynamically and with great panache and there was finely nuanced balance and excellent rapport between her the Orchestra and Tsai . Tsai gives an amazing , intense, virtuoso performance haunted and at times either fiery or lyrical, passionate and anguished . From the stirring Orchestral opening with its dynamic rhythms we are captivated.

The first richly atmospheric movement is for Orchestra alone with a splendid horn solo. In the second movement after dialogue between Orchestra and Tsai , Tsai shines in the wistful solos and eventually the aching ,flowing melodies gently ebb towards the conclusion . The third movement opened with an insistent marching rhythm , there were lyrical sections contrasted with whirling sections . At one point Tsai is frantic on his cello but this changes to soft and lyrical as if he is searching for something which leads to the crashing tumultuous finale. Continue reading WILLOUGHBY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA :- ETERNITY @ THE CONCOURSE


Renowned Australian piano soloist, Clemens Leske will perform Rachmaninoff’s demanding Piano Concerto number 3 with The Metropolitan Orchestra on May 11 in the Russian Nights concert which also includes Rimsky-Korsakov’s electrifying Scheherazade. TMOs annual all-Russian programme conducted by Sarah-Grace Williams is one of the most highly anticipated events in TMO’s concert season.

Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto received revived fame in the 1996 movie “Shine”, based on the life of pianist David Helfgott. TMO last performed this piano concerto in August 2012 with David Helfgott himself on piano. Clemens Leske has performed with all the major Australian symphony orchestras in addition to having appeared with the Australian String Quartet, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Moscow Virtuosi and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade will round out the electrifying evening of music. Based on “One Thousand and One Nights” (also known as Arabian Nights), Scheherazade presents an electrifying and emotional musical journey in a compelling and narrative work which will transport the audience to a fairy-tale world of love, intrigue and adventure.

Saturday 11th May 2019 at the Eugene Goossens Hall, ABC Centre, 700 Harris Street, Ultimo.

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This concert explores the music of Clara and Robert Schumann and their devoted friend, Johannes Brahms.

ACO principal cellist, Timo-Veikko Valve and virtuoso young Australian violinist Grace Clifford join Artistic Director/pianist Kathryn Selby, AM for a program of great Romantic Piano Trios and a special duo to celebrate the 200th birthday of Clara Schumann.

This program encapsulates the powerful story of 3 giants of the classical music world whose love and friendship has fascinated us to this day.

Tuesday 7 May at the City Recital Hall, 2-12 Angel Place, Sydney

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The Sydney Chamber Choir has has a new Music Director Sam Allchurch. This is after the recent passing of its long time and much loved Music Director Richard Gill. Sam is picking up the baton with his debut concert Saturday week, 30th March at the Great Hall, Sydney University. Music lovers are in for a treat. Mr Allchurch  shared his thoughts about the first program he has curated.

Taking on the mantle of musical director of Sydney Chamber is a very exciting prospect for a choral conductor – something akin to be handed the keys to a Rolls-Royce!  

To begin our time together, for my first concert as Music Director, I was keen to perform one of the great motets of JS Bach, Singet dem Herren ‘Sing to the Lord a new song’. This is a tour de force of virtuoso choir writing and one of my favourite pieces: joyful and ebullient in its outer movements and beautifully reflective in the slow middle movement. I was also drawn to Singet by the skill of the singers in Sydney Chamber Choir, one of the few ensembles in Australia who can tackle music of this complexity.

I designed a program of music which is about music. In some cases this is obvious – from the Italian Renaissance, Palestrina’s Kyrie from Missa ut re mi fa so la is based on the major scale and Elliott Gyger’s ut queant laxis picks up on the same idea.

In other cases, the link is more subtle – Joseph Twist’s How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? and William Byrd’s Quomodo cantabimus set singing as a means of consolation in difficult times – Twist in contemporary Australia and Byrd in 16th century England. Twist’s piece combines the Latin psalm text with poetry of Oodgeroo Noonuccal to make us think about the relationship between what we are singing and where we are singing it. Continue reading SAM ALLCHURCH PICKS UP RICHARD GILL’S BATON WITH HIS DEBUT CONCERT