Tag Archives: The Concourse Chatswood


The latest in this year’s series of concerts by Willoughby Symphony Orchestra , entitled DISCOVERY opened on a sombre note with Dr Nicholas Milton making the sad announcement of the passing of legendary inspirational conductor and educator Richard Gill.
Tributes and very moving short speeches were made .

Dr Milton conducted energetically and precisely and the Orchestra was in magnificent, glowing form.

The concert opened with Composer in Residence Nigel Westlake’s Cudmirrah Fanfare which listeners might be familiar with from the 1980’s when it was used as the theme music for ABC Radio National. It was flowing and vibrant with its stirring, surging melody. The Orchestra was large in number, and there was an augmented percussion section for this piece.

The bulk of the first half was the striking Brahms Double concerto – Concerto in A minor for violin, cello and orchestra in 3 movements with guest stars Dimity Hall on violin and Julian Smiles on cello in a passionate, most moving and powerful performance.



Opera star Peter Coleman-Wright

A most striking and unusual concert. part of the Live at Lunch series, ,Jane Rutter’s guests this time were the amazing Nexas Saxophone Quartet ( Michael Duke on soprano saxophone , Andrew Smith on alto saxophone , Nathan Henshaw on tenor Saxophone and Jay Byrnes on baritone Saxophone together with opera star Peter Coleman-Wright. The noteworthy rather unconventional arrangements were generally for the saxophone quartet and sometimes included Coleman-Wright on piano.

The concert specifically looked at cabaret works by composers from the Weimar Era to WWII, putting the works and the turbulence of the era in context and looking at how many of the Weimar composers, such as Weill, were driven into exile in the USA and the quartet played the role of various composers, introducing the audience members to their life stories and works – Henshaw evoked Franz Schreker, Byrnes became Hans Eisler, Smith portrayed Bertolt Brecht, while Duke was Robert Stolz. The quartet played with great energy and smooth precision full of virtuosity and fine ensemble work. Continue reading LIVE AT LUNCH : COMPOSERS IN EXILE


The Willoughby Symphony and Choir combined to bring us an absolutely superb concert , the first of this year’s season, simply entitled GALA .  They were precisely and energetically conducted by the inspirational Dr Nicholas Milton who also introduced the various pieces and the soloists . The Choir is directed by Chorus Master Peter Ellis The program had an Italian opera theme with works by Puccini ,Rossini , Verdi etc. and the excellent soloists were from Pacific Opera. Continue reading WILLOUGHBY SYMPHONY AND CHOIR : OPENS 2018 WITH A GLORIOUS GALA


Production photography by Grant Leslie.

Meow. Aurilophiles rejoice! The Concourse at Chatswood at the moment is alive with cats – oozing rivers of them, exploring, crawling , stretching, entwining around your feet…

Yes, this is the much loved Andrew Lloyd Webber musical based on TS Elliot’s poems in a very impressive staging. The cast perform with power, passion and commitment. Cameron Boxall and Kira Nelson’s choreography is based on and generally sticks to the original; snazzy, tight,  and demanding. Continue reading PACKEMIN PRESENTS CATS @ THE CONCOURSE, CHATSWOOD


Featured photo – Pianist Kathy Selby.

For the latest concert combining the marvelous talents of the Willoughby Symphony and Choir, the concert hall at the Concourse was packed to the rafters and we were privileged to hear some ravishing, glorious playing and singing.

The program opened with a delightful , somewhat boisterous rendition of the Brahms Academic Festival Overture Op.80. Written for the University of Breslau, the piece was given a brisk, dynamic reading. Rather lighthearted, Brahms develops and expands the melodies of four well known student drinking songs and the piece features triumphant horns.

The audience loved the work and the orchestra was obviously enjoying itself under the very energetic direction of Dr Nicholas Milton. Continue reading WILLOUGHBY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA AND CHOIR PRESENT A CONCERT FULL OF JOY


Matt Hourigan as Bert


Michaela Leisk as Mary
Michaela Leisk as Mary

Willoughy Theatre presented the now-standard much loved Disney/Cameron Macintosh version, with small adjustments from the London version which was seen here at the Capitol several years ago.Matthew Bourne’s choreography is not retained but rather altered and adapted by Declan Moore and Janina Hamerlok .

Set in Edwardian times, the ever popular MARY POPPINS is based on the books by Australian author P.L.Travers, and narrates the tale of the rather dysfunctional Banks family, whose lives are changed completely and unexpectedly with the arrival of a new nanny, Mary Poppins. Continue reading WILLOUGHBY THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS MARY POPPINS @ THE CONCOURSE CHATSWOOD


Harry Bennett
Guest violonist Harry Bennetts

The first piece in this wonderful program was Matthew Hindson’s short , shimmering and witty Boom Box (1999) which featured among other things extremely energetic and enthusiastic drum playing and a siren like sound from the glittering strings. It was originally written for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s education concerts.

The main bulk of the first half was the Sibelius Violin Concerto in D Minor Op 47 featuring guest artist Harry Bennetts who has toured with the Australian Chamber Orchestra as a 2015 Emerging Artist and is currently at the Australian National Academy of Music under Dr Robin Wilson .He has just won a place in the prestigious Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Academy under a new ANAM International partnership Programme and will begin a two year residency with the orchestra in September. He was introduced by Dr Milton and his impassioned ,elegant playing dazzled and transported .

The first movement opened very softly then Bennetts on his violin sparkled and sang in a dialogue with the emphatic orchestra. In the extended virtuoso cadenza at times the violin darted like a butterfly at others it swirled passionately with gypsy-like rhythms. The orchestra was thunderous , then withdrew for a soft , floating violin passage backed by the pulsating orchestra .In the second movement there were woodwinds and stormy strings and in the third there were an under-layer of strings yet again for Bennett’s fiery violin solo that dazzled.

There was well deserved thunderous applause .

After interval was the Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5 in E minor, op. 64.in four movements. It was a lush, rich , Romantically flavoured and many layered performance. In the first movement the woodwind state the theme and rich strings take it and develop it and it is passed to various sections of the orchestra. There are some hints of Tchaikovsky’s ballet music especially Swan Lake and The Nutcracker. There is a short oboe solo and a crashing wave of sound at one point.Ominous drums bring the movement to a tense conclusion. The second movement begins with soft , shimmering , yearning strings, there is a horn solo and the orchestra reminds us at one point that Tchaikovsky also wrote the towering 1812 Overture .Pizzicato strings are contrasted with a giant twirling tone and there is a dramatic section similar to the Caraboose leitmotif in Sleeping Beauty.

The third movement begins with waltz-like strings .There is a sense that the Orchestra is tense and nervously tumbling – yet the scurrying strings turn lush and Romantic. There is a military band sound that takes us to the crashing finale of the movement.The fourth and final movement opens with rich strident strings , horns and rolling drums interrupt – blisteringly fast strings cut across them in a tearing hurry. There is another waltz like theme stated , the orchestra goes full throttle and we are breathlessly taken to the fast imposing end with the horns and woodwind. All stylishly played with precision ,clarity and great excitement.

The audience was very delighted.

Running time 2 hours.

Destiny by the Willoughby Symphony was at the Concourse Chatswood 30 & 21 July 2016
Hindson Boom Box (1999)
Sibelius Violin Concerto in D Minor Op 47
Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5 in E minor, op. 64




Last Thursday evening a smiling Greg Khoury, Executive Director of The Concourse Performing Arts Centre at Chatswood, welcomed myself and fellow UPSTAGE members with a short familiarisation speech, after which we were treated to a complimentary champagne buffet dinner. Whilst dining, I mingled with other members who, like myself, simply love going out to the theatre.

In an effort to publicise this wonderful entertainment venue, the UPSTAGE scheme was set up by Development Manager, Zoe Davies, who spoke about the history of the scheme.

“The membership scheme was set up just over a year ago to let people know that the Concourse was up and running, and was doing incredibly well, having the second largest venue after the Opera House. But we really wanted to get to know our audience more. UPSTAGE is not a money-making scheme by any means. In fact, the cost of staging our many events throughout the year far outweighs the membership fee.

“For the small outlay of $50 dollars per year, members are initially given two free tickets to any show at the Concourse in the first year of membership. They are also given free drink vouchers, discounted parking, and advance notice of upcoming functions. It’s all about giving our loyal patrons who come here all the time something more. But of course it’s really about the events. We set it up firstly to entice people to come to the venue, and once they’ve been here, we know they will want to come back again and again. Continue reading THE UPSTAGE MEMBERSHIP SCHEME @ THE CONCOURSE CHATSWOOD


Legally Blonde-inset

Oh My God you guys, it’s PINK!

Yes, bright pink is the signature colour of this show from the very beginning. Excellently directed by Courtney Cassar, this show is high octane energy. Whilst seeming to be superficial this show does look at contemporary issues such as chauvinism, gender politics and the law.

Based on the novel Legally Blonde by Amanda Brown and the 2001 film of the same name, this musical tells the story of Elle Woods, a sorority student who enrolls at Harvard Law School, complete with purse pooch, in an attempt to win back her ex-boyfriend Warner. She grows and changes as she discovers how her knowledge of the law can help others, and successfully defends exercise queen Brooke Wyndham in a murder trial. No one really has faith in Elle Woods throughout the show, but she manages to surprise them when she defies their superficial expectations and transforms from law school embarrassment to valedictorian. Continue reading WILLOUGHBY THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS LEGALLY BLONDE @ THE CONCOURSE CHATSWOOD


These wonderful photos of Mirusia are by Karl Neilson
These wonderful photos of Mirusia are by Karl Neilson

Tickets went on sale this morning for Brisbane-born soprano Mirusia’s first concert tour back home, her first national tour. For the past nine years Mirusia (family name is Louwerse), the thirty year old Australian of Dutch background, described as the angel of Australia, has toured extensively around the globe as the Star soprano for André Rieu.

She has come a long way since studying opera at the Queensland Conservatorium, when, at the age of 21, she became the youngest ever winner of the prestigious Dame Joan Sutherland Opera Award.

Marusia returns to home shores to present her program entitled THIS TIME TOMORROW, promoting her songs from her new album of the same name, will be a two hour  classical-crossover program where she will sing backed by her own Chamber Orchestra. The concert will include standards such as Ave Maria, Romanza,  Memory,Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again, All I Ask Of You, as well as some of her own compositions. Continue reading MIRUSIA ANNOUNCES HER FIRST TOUR OF AUSTRALIA

Willoughby Symphony Orchestra: West Side Story @ The Concourse

Inset pic- Violinst Doretta Balkizas. Featured pic-Dr Nicholas Milton
Inset pic- Violinst Doretta Balkizas. Featured pic-Dr Nicholas Milton

The latest Willoughby Symphony concert had an American theme with an Australian link.

Emphatically, passionately led by Dr Nicholas Milton the Willoughby Symphony gave a magnificent performance with fine ensemble work. As ever, the acoustics in the Concert Hall were excellent with a rich, vibrant sound.

First on the programme was Bernstein’s ‘West Side Story : Selections for Orchestra’ arranged by Jack Mason. Played with relish by the Orchestra, the subtle nuances and changes of mood and tempo for the various selections were well handled. Aching strings for ‘One hand , one heart’ were contrasted with the tense, spiky rhythms of ‘Cool’ that featured brass and strings.  Continue reading Willoughby Symphony Orchestra: West Side Story @ The Concourse