Australian concerts & recordings

Ambassadors write reviews on classical music concerts, books, releases, films and experiences.

UNSW’s Winter Gala program curated around women in love, life and musical creativity

I was pleased when the UNSW Winter Gala was moved from the Sir John Clancy Auditorium to the more intimate Tyree Room at the Scientia Building. This made for a convivial, cosy atmosphere, as rugged-up enthusiasts had the pleasure of…

 
Evergreen Ensemble’s Curious Caledonians transports to a different time & place in Australian history

Highland ceilidh, Regency quadrilles and Victorian parlour songs, the Evergreen Ensemble and partners’ programme, Curious Caledonians, draws on the collections of songbooks and sheet music housed in the Sydney Living Museums and the State Library of NSW. They were handwritten…

 
Sydney Chamber Choir provides food for thought on a wintry night

Just before the long weekend that celebrates Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday, Sydney Chamber Choir put its Kings and Queens in a row with a concert exploring composers with the Royal seal of approval. On a dark and wintry Sydney night,…

 
Australian Haydn Ensemble with a French Twist

On Sunday June 2, the Australian Haydn Ensemble performed an interesting program with a “French Twist” at the Independent Theatre in North Sydney. This included works with a French connection by Mozart and Haydn, paired with works by little known…

 
Selby & Friends provided a vivid evening of Beethoven for the Sydney Mozart Society

The latest Sydney Mozart Society concert was cleverly timed to coincide with the opening of Vivid Chatswood but, fortunately, although the visual aspect was welcoming, we were insulated from the sound effects. On this occasion, Kathryn Selby continued her well-established…

 
Scots’ Church Choir & Melbourne Chamber Orchestra’s gift to the people of Melbourne

What a gift to the people of Melbourne – a free performance on Sunday 21st April by The Scots’ Church Choir and the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra of one of the masterpieces of the Baroque era – J.S. Bach’s Mass in…

 
Danaë Killian is one of Melbourne’s piano treasures

On Saturday 20th April 2019, Dr. Danaë Killian gave a short piano recital which included fine performances of Mozart and Liszt and she championed the music of four composers of her city. From a star afar, a 2-minute miniature by…

 
Flinders Quartet 2019 Composer Development Program participants announced

Launching from a supremely successful inaugural composer workshop in 2016, Flinders Quartet’s (FQ) Composer Development Program is now an annual event, the quartet has invited six emerging composers from across Australia to participate in the 2019 program: Oliver Beard, NSW…

 
Yet again Josie & the Emeralds shone brightly and required no polishing

Concerts featuring Josie and the Emeralds are always a delight and this was no exception. Entitled ‘Fantasy’ and held in Glebe Town Hall on Friday 26th April, a crowd of regular devotees and many new faces were treated to Fantasias…

 
Australian Chamber Choir’s “St John Passion” an immersive, enthralling & transcendent experience

Disclaimer: The St John Passion by J.S. Bach is my favourite work of all time. I am in love with this composition. At nigh on 2 hours of music the St John Passion is a journey with the greatest composer…

 
Australia Ensemble’s concert “No Strings Attached” was a carefully crafted programme contrasting the familiar and the less so

Problems with light rail construction and venue renovations, as well as the Sydney Swans playing a home match at the SCG, meant that reaching the Sir John Clancy Auditorium at the University of New South Wales on Saturday was problematic.…

 
Coro Austral presented a program of mainly Spanish music with some French & Australian for good measure

Coro Austral is a group of 13 (mostly) unaccompanied voices under the direction of Margot McLaughlin. In this concert they presented mainly Spanish music with some French and Australian for good measure. The first half of the concert focussed on…

 
Willoughby Symphony’s Eternity concert took the audience on a ‘rhapsodic journey’

The heart and the alternate reality In an inspiring Sunday afternoon at The Concourse, the epic ferocity of a symphony orchestra in full flight, a passionate and instinctive cello soloist and a magnetic contemporary choral requiem were brought to life…

 
Goldner String Quartet’s mastery was on full display throughout Sydney Mozart Society’s imaginative programme

Why is it that the sound of the Goldner String Quartet is so distinctive? Certainly there is their perfect timing and intonation but there is more than that. I feel sure that I could pick their playing from ten recordings…

 
Consort 8’s Eastertide programme delivered a diverse array of reflective music

It’s that time of the year when concerts abound around Sydney in the countdown to Easter Sunday, many of them featuring major works by JS Bach. Consort 8’s first performance of the year, timed with the end of the Lenten Season,…

 
Sydney Chamber Choir programme joyfully celebrated the power of the voice

Sam Allchurch took his audience to heart and taught them a thing or two about singing in his first subscription concert as Music Director for Sydney Chamber Choir in 2019. Music on Music was billed as a celebration of singing as…

 
Andrián Pertout’s monumental piano work ‘Luz Meridional’ is full of delights

Rarely do I hear a new work that is so strong and meaningful and as full of so many delights as Andrián Pertout’s monumental piano work Luz Meridional. This is singularly one of the most important piano compositions ever written…

 
Sydney Youth Orchestra’s performance gave enjoyment in spades

Sydney Youth Orchestras comprises no less than fourteen orchestras embracing ages from 6 to 25 years, with students progressing with experience and being directed to areas to suit their individual talents. They have provided this essential function in New South…

 
Ku-ring-Gai Philharmonic Orchestra’s intriguing and innovative programme works a treat!

What a transformation there has been in the Ku-ring-Gai Philharmonic Orchestra. Gone are the creaky strings and hesitant woodwind entries resulting in an efficient and accurate unit. Perhaps its new principal home in the expanse of Chatswood Concourse has helped…

 
The Australia Piano Quartet presented a stimulating concert of contrasts for the Sydney Mozart Society

It’s hardly necessary to say that the Sydney Mozart Society, now in its sixty-ninth year, produced another recital of the highest quality. The Australia Piano Quartet is now in its eighth year as Resident Ensemble at Sydney’s University of Technology where…

 
Elysian Fields ‘What Should I Say’ is a thoroughly enjoyable CD that challenges boundaries

Brisbane’s Poinciana trees are bursting with vibrant red flowers, showering footpaths, rooftops, roads, and parked cars with flamelike petals. A perfect afternoon for listening to Elysian Fields. What Should I Say is the first CD to be released by classical jazz…

 
Oliver Fartach-Naini makes the guitar sing in ‘Suite Latina’ recording

Oliver Fartach-Naini’s newest release, Suite Latina, is his first solo album in a recording career that spans over twenty years. A prolific chamber musician, Fartach-Naini’s discography includes recordings of Schubert’s Winterreise for two guitars and viola (Winter Journey), folk songs…

 
Australian Haydn Ensemble positively shone with Haydn’s Farewell

Under the guest direction of Pinchgut Opera’s Erin Helyard, the AHE positively shone. This was the best performance I have seen from them. Helyard played the piano solos on the program, as well as the continuo, on a magnificent period…

 
Zelman Symphony had much to entertain, delight and move

This being my first time in this venue I was delighted to experience their still fairly new, state of the art performing arts centre which seats 850 and a stage big enough for a large orchestra and choir. In addition…

 
Richard Gill would have been proud of SYO’s Celebrating Strauss

Richard Gill was an immensely popular conductor and musical educator and the Sydney Youth Orchestra dedicated the last concert in this year’s cycle to him. The concert had another dedicatee, namely Richard Strauss who is generally agreed to be an…

 
Outlaw Opera was adept acting and singing, carried off in spades, and to a great reception

Christina Henson is nothing if not versatile, having trained in both opera and medicine, and she produced a show to wake up sleepy Avoca on a Friday night. Avoca Beach Theatre is a beautifully situated Boutique Picture House and plans…

 
Halcyon’s Shining Shores shows their energy supporting living composers is rewarding for audiences

For Halcyon, their last concert for 2018 could be considered something of a landmark for the vocal chamber group. Formed in 1998 by mezzo-soprano Jenny Duck-Chong and soprano Alison Morgan, the ensemble has been a leading light in the fostering…

 
Ensemble Three recording Despite Our Silent Elders shows directions in new music in Australia

The CD is named after the longest work on the recording, Elliott Hughes’ Despite Our Silent Elders. At just under 16 minutes this straightforward composition allows the stellar talents of Joel Brennan, trumpet, trombonist Don Immel and guitarist Ken Murray…

 
Sydney Mozart Society | The Streeton Trio was faultless and reflected the intense moods of the music

How exciting it must have been to be a music lover in Vienna in the early nineteenth century. If you had grown tired of Hummel and even the innovative but ageing Haydn, and were lamenting the premature death of the…

 
Duo Blockstix recording of Works for percussion and recorder

This recently released CD of Australian works is a pleasing addition to the recorded repertoire of local composers and is testament to the skills of the multi-talented and virtuosic performers Alicia Crossley and Joshua Hill. Blockstix Duo display not only…

 
Soirées Musicales Quintette get straight to the heart at Old Government House in a trip back in time

On 9 November 2018, an appreciative audience gathered at Old Government House to experience a recreation of a concert held in exactly the same location on the same date 112 years before, in 1906. The original concert celebrated King Edward…

 
[A]part: Ellen Kirkwood & Sirens Big Band is [A]part from the Crowd

As the Brisbane heatwave sets in like thick soup, an afternoon of lying under the fan, listening to music is a welcome reprieve. The volume knob has to keep being turned up, so the speakers can compete with the beats…

 
Willoughby Symphony Orchestra’s Discovery was an exhilarating evening

I have a problem. I’ve heard the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra play now on five occasions and keep waiting for a wrong note, an error in tempo, or creakiness in the strings but they just don’t occur. Is there a better…

 
Thoroughbass: Bach’s Gamba Sonatas

Situated in lovely Mosman, “Bach’s Gamba Sonatas” presented by Thoroughbass displayed the depth and complexity of the music written for the viola da gamba and harpsichord spanning two generations. With nuanced interpretations and a rich command of each instrument, Througbass’s…

 
Flinders Quartet launch their 2019 season!

On a stormy Melbourne evening the Flinders Quartet gathered at a familiar venue, fortyfivedownstairs, for their 2019 season launch. The quartet played at the launch of the venue back in 2002, so it was only fitting it was used as…

 
Evergreen Ensemble’s Snow in Summer provided many colours

‘Snow is Summer’ pays homage to the windswept landscapes and islands of Scotland. The program drew together music from folk and art music traditions, moving between hauntingly beautiful melodies, toe tapping folk tunes and a contemporary Australian commission. The instrumentation…

 
Sydney Mozart Society presents Australian String Quartet

At 8pm on a rainy Friday evening in Chatswood’s Concourse Concert Hall, four of the country’s most respected musicians took the stage as the Australian String Quartet. The ASQ is something of an institution within the Australian classical music scene,…

 
Melbourne Composers’ League presents 19 new works at Montsalvat in two concerts

In the historic Montsalvat in the hills just out of Melbourne two concerts of 19 new works were presented by the Melbourne Composers’ League in just one day. The MCL is a rarity in Australia – a group of composers…

 
A journey through time; a seamless joinder of music, bird song, art and film

It was such a treat to attend the sell-out performance of “Where Song Began” – a musical celebration of Australia’s birds and how they shaped the world – held in the atmospheric wood panelled room at Cottesloe Civic Centre, in…

 
Halcyon’s From the Hungry Waiting Country is an expansive, dreamlike journey

The grey haze of clouds hangs over Brisbane. I watch the sky in distrust, waiting. I walk on dull, dead grass, and watch the angling, fat crows. An hour’s train ride, and then I’m home to my back yard, to…

 
Sarah Grunstein performs Fantastic Fantasies

It would be difficult to imagine a more suitable backdrop for a piano recital than the Utzon room at the Sydney Opera House with a gradual change from a James Jackson painting to a vivid night sky and sea transport…

 
Australian Chamber Choir sings complex music fearlessly and it thrills the listener

In the impressive Grand Court at the Art Gallery of NSW the Australian Chamber Choir presented one of the finest concerts in Sydney this year. Their perfectly chosen program ranged from the early baroque to music from our time and…

 
Around the sun with Song Company

As we take our seats and open up the program for The Song Company’s Four-Colour-Season concert at Darling Quarter we are immediately hurled into confusion. What’s this? There are song names and word extracts and names of seasons and months…

 
Ironwood’s Classical Lyricism and Fervour was an evening of warm weather, beautiful tones, and spectacular works

With a program featuring a composer known as the “Spanish Mozart”, it should seem fitting that Ironwood’s 3rd concert in this year’s season was accompanied by a beautifully warm evening at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Ironwood is a period-instrument…

 
Willoughby Symphony Orchestra with David Fung was full of passion

When is an encore not an encore? When it starts the programme, as Nicholas Milton explained after the orchestra had began unexpectedly with the “Trepak” from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker suite. No one would be in the mood for an encore after…

 
Sydney Mozart Society presents Australian Haydn Ensemble

Probably the most welcome rainstorm in Sydney history put the Chatswood audience, which included eminent patrons Lauris Elms and Donald Hazlewood, in a relaxed mood for the latest concert by Sydney Mozart Society with The Australian Haydn Ensemble, were very…

 
Ana de la Vega’s Mozart Myslivecek Flute Concertos with English Chamber Orchestra

Recording the Mozart Flute Concertos is a bold move. Every professional flutist knows these works and they are the most commonly requested concerto for any professional orchestral audition. Likewise, they have been recorded superbly many times. Rampal and Nicolet gave…

 
Selby & Friends immensely enjoyed performing works by composers with troubled souls

I wonder what effect the title of Selby and Friends’ latest concert “Troubled Souls” had on readers? It certainly didn’t apply to the performers who clearly enjoyed the occasion immensely. They were; Julian Smiles well-known to all as, among others,…

 
Consort 8 was a joyful noyse with first-class playing and singing

With all the discordant noise coming out of Canberra these days, not to mention natural disasters around the world, an evening where one can push all this out of the conscious mind and sink into some ‘joyful noyse’ was most…

 
Soirées Musicales Quintette – sanctuary on a Sunday afternoon

As a winter wind whipped through Brisbane swirling leaves and dust, Saint Mary’s Anglican Church in Kangaroo Point provided a serene backdrop to a charming performance by Soirées Musicales Quintette. Founded in 2015, the Brisbane-based ensemble enhances the romantic classical…

 
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