Australian concerts & recordings

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

Australian Haydn Ensemble’s playing was perfection

There is always a sense of relief when you arrive in your seats at Angel Place after having passed the god-awful infernal din emanating from the Ivy night club, and there is that magic moment of pure silence just before…

 
Consort 8’s A Renaissance Christmas was a fabulous start to the Season

We’ve all heard of the recorder, and many can recognise a viol da gamba, lute, and theorbo when they see one. But how about a cittern? Or a psaltery? And a tapan? All featured in the fabulous Consort 8 concert…

 
Hoang Pham brilliance tempered by a fine balance and propriety with Zelman Symphony Orchestra

It was a dark and stormy night (well early Summer evening actually) and to get to the Melbourne Recital Centre involved some dashing across dark glisteningly wet black streets, Melbourne was experiencing one of its stormiest beginnings to Summer for…

 
Josie & the Emeralds Celebrate the Feast Day of the Patron Saint of Music with a fascinating and rich program

Josie (Josie Ryan, Soprano) and the Emeralds (four viol da gamba players) first presented a special program honouring Lady Music in 2014. It was such a success with their audience, the Emeralds decided to make it an annual event. Some…

 
Sydney Chamber Choir 2018 Season Launch

Fresh from supporting the Sydney Flash Mob Choir on Wednesday evening (15th November) at the City Recital Hall, the Sydney Chamber Choir, arguably one of this country’s finest choral ensembles, launched their 2018 program with their own quintessential mixture of…

 
Coro Austral celebrate Love, Loss and Remembrance

On the eve of their Cuban tour, Coro Austral, conducted Artistic Director Margot McLaughlin, presented a concert pillared by the Mass For the Dead by Portuguese composer Manuel Cardoso. The clear acoustics of the Redfern Town Hall and its simple…

 
Bel a cappella – sumptuous choral music in spades

Bel a cappella’s final concert for 2017 took its name from Arnold Schonberg’s 1907 score Friede auf Erden (Peace on Earth). This harmonically rich and highly romantic work in four parts received not only a rare airing in Sydney but…

 
Balmain Baroque were engaging with a delightful program

On a hot and seemingly ‘summer-esque’ and seriously smouldering Sunday at St Peters Presbyterian Church in North Sydney, the well-known Balmain Baroque presented a delightful program of Vivaldi, Handel, Quantz, Mattheson and two of the most underappreciated composers of the…

 
One Woman and Two Divas is a magical evening combining generous and personal

What a truly magical evening of musical theatre, opera, unique music and gourmet food in a corrugated iron shed seemingly in the middle of nowhere! While the weather outside was a little frightful, it was absolutely delightful under the glass…

 
Sydney Mozart Society hosts Enigma Quartet and Timothy Nankervis

This was the last concert of the Sixty Seventh year of the Mozart Society and it was appropriate that, in contrast to recent programmes, we were treated to works familiar to many listeners. The Enigma Quartet has been playing for…

 
Con Opera & Opera Australia: Mozart’s The Magic Flute

Mozart’s The Magic Flute was popularly received and critically acclaimed when it premiered in Vienna, in 1791. Mozart attended the performances multiple times and delighted in the popular reception. However, he died a mere 2 months after the opera’s premiere.…

 
Australian Haydn Ensemble’s Beethoven’s Emperor arranged by Vi King Lim

How better to spend a rather chilly, drizzly, overcast Saturday afternoon in Sydney than to attend a concert given by the Australian Haydn Ensemble (AHE), a group specialising in historically-informed performances of late Baroque and early Classical music on period…

 
Sydney Chamber Choir and The Muffat Collective lamented – but the audience did not

Love indeed knows no boundaries – and the music heard tonight was some of the most sorrowful on earth, but sung and played with such beauty. Lamentations and libations (at interval) were promised and the capacity Great Hall audience did…

 
Sydney Mozart Society arrange to please and Southern Cross Soloists performance excellent throughout

There must be a tremendous amount of planning that goes into the programming of Sydney Mozart Society concerts. At Chatswood Concourse on Friday, there was a programme that consisted largely of familiar works arranged for unusual combinations of instruments. These…

 
A Twinkling Star in the Sydney Music Scene

On Sunday 8 October, local musician (clavichord, fortepiano, traverso) Ivan Foo presented An Evening with Mozart at St Mark’s Church in Hunters Hill. This is the second concert by Ivan Foo that I have attended, and it appeared many in…

 
Alan Holley’s Doppler’s Web is wonderfully chaotic

An intense listening experience- wonderfully chaotic, musically inspiring, a showcase of the talents of some fantastic musicians and a wonderful collection of Alan Holley’s compositions.

 
Kathryn Selby has friends a-plenty – exemplary trio performance and brilliantly constructed programme

Kathryn Selby is not short of friends – the quality of her pianism and selection of her programmes is testament to that as is the number of her fans.

 
Consort 8 have tremendous flexibility to programme unusual and rarely heard works

A veritable feast of delicious 16th and 17th Century works, most of them from Spain and Italy, were served up to a full hall.

 
Song Company’s Dreamers of the Day was non-stop entertainment

The concert, or maybe a more accurate description, the entertainment Dreamers of the Day presented by The Song Company is a 75 minute near non-stop journey through bits and pieces of music from Handel and Bach to the present day.…

 
Australia Piano Quartet | Innocence and Experience in composition and interpretation

The Australia Piano Quartet has been the Ensemble in Residence a the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) since 2012. They have toured throughout Europe and Asia and have given concerts at the Barbican and Wigmore Hall in London. Their specialties…

 
Sydney Mozart Society | Memorable evening from Duncan Gifford and friends

Duncan Gifford now lives in Madrid but returns to his native Australia annually. He has the distinction of being the highest placed Australian in the Sydney Piano Competition when he came third in 1992 as well as numerous other competition…

 
BackStage Music was riveting throughout

We found our way on a cold winters night to a dark, dingy Darlinghurst lane with a steel roller shutter door and wondered what we had let ourselves in for. Inside however, we found a cosy space with chairs and…

 
Australian Chamber Choir was a treat!

Sometimes you go to a concert and after just a few seconds know you are in for a treat. Lucky me, I had that experience with this, my first encounter with the Australian Chamber Choir. This exciting ensemble of young…

 
Bel a cappella and Australian Baroque Brass were insightful and shone

Bel a cappella’s concert billed Motetten was, for me, memorable for a work that was not a motet – Paul Hindemith’s Apparebit repentina dies (1947) for choir and eight brass players. This 25 minute work shows Hindemith writing life affirming…

 
Three’s Midnight Songs recording brings additional layers of satisfaction

The CD Midnight Songs by the Melbourne group Three is a wonderful introduction to repertoire that is evolving especially for this ensemble and it should have wide appeal amongst the concertgoers of Australia and overseas. Having heard the group in…

 
AWO Chamber 8 was a fantastic gig with rockstar musicians

Last Thursday evening saw the Australian World Orchestra bring their ‘Chamber 8’ to Melbourne to perform first as a septet, and then as a quintet for this evening of superb chamber music in, it must be said, the rather large…

 
Selby & Friends’ Proud Folk was chamber music in the best tradition

Kats-Chernin’s The Spirit and the Maiden (2004), was commissioned in 2001 for the Macquarie Trio (of which Selby was a member) and has undergone several revisions since that time. It is based on an intriguing Russian fairy tale where, in…

 
Simone Young conducting Australian World Orchestra and ANAM was an exceptional and unforgettable concert

“One could say that Young did not just conduct the symphony; she danced the symphony” It was wonderful to see so many people of all ages attend this concert which featured the collaboration of Australia’s finest musicians now playing in…

 
A luminous, multi-channel, sophisticated experience by Argo

NIGHT ONE: to the earth Spring Hill Reservoir 8 July 2017 music for string quartet + cavernous spaces John Luther Adams Canticles to the Sky^ Chris Perren a luminous moment, unfolded* Philip Glass String Quartet No. 5 Connor D’Netto String…

 
Australian World Orchestra Chamber Eight tour: world-class homegrown brilliance

A group email recently arrived in my inbox with an invitation to join a fantasy football league. Not knowing what, or who, the teams or players were, I simply deleted the message. But if I’d been asked to pick my…

 
David Gray dazzles on the Christie theatre organ.

They don’t make fun like this any more. As Scottish organist and pianist David Gray stepped on to the stage in the Kelvin Grove State College Auditorium, presented by TOSAQ and the Queensland Music Festival, he won the audience’s heart…

 
Sydney Chamber Choir | A slice of Sydney’s choral and vocal talent was on show on a beautiful winter’s day at Sydney University’s Great Hall

The University of Sydney’s Great Hall set the scene on a sparkling winter’s Sunday afternoon for Sydney Chamber Choir’s Saint Nicolas program. The afternoon’s repertoire took the audience on a journey from Hildegard von Bingen’s Selections from Canticles of Ecstasy…

 
Lidia Bara’s performance with Balmain Baroque was nothing short of spectacular

Balmain Baroque performed for a small audience of mainly friends and family in the sympathetic acoustics of the St Peters Presbyterian Church in North Sydney. They played a range of mostly sonatas and arias by Schutz, Telemann, Boismortier, Bernardi, Handel…

 
Sydney Mozart Society presents an excellent program with a performance of the highest quality by Sydney Soloists

Sydney Mozart Society’s concert in Chatswood by the Sydney Soloists, who recently morphed from the Verbrugghen Ensemble, come with great pedigree. All members of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, although Robert Johnson has recently announced his retirement. A Divertimento in E…

 
Australian Haydn Ensemble warmed one’s soul on a cold winter’s night

A delightful program based on Paris in the late eighteenth century sufficiently warmed one’s soul on a cold winter’s night. In the presence of their esteemed Patron, former NSW Governor, Dame Marie Bashir, the Australian Haydn Ensemble (AHE), along with…

 
Leichhardt Espresso Chorus performs Solomon with a difference

I knew I was in for ‘Handel with a difference’ as soon as I arrived at the ticket desk. Many people seemed to be wearing something pink or yellow or both. The ticket table was laden with a huge pile…

 
The Flinders’ Quartet on Collins #2 displays a tight ensemble with exemplary intonation

Lunchtime concerts in the CBD are wonderful for city workers, being so close for so many people, so I wonder why there were not more people attending this concert. There were a few younger people but the audience of 80…

 
ThoroughBass are joined by Israeli keyboard player, Michael Tsalka

On a somewhat dull winter afternoon in Sydney, I attended a ThoroughBass concert named “Overture and Concerto” at the Mosman Art Gallery. The Grand Hall, previously a Methodist church featuring lovely stained glass windows and an expansive timber ceiling that…

 
4MBS Festival of Classics’ Mozart and the English Bach, celebrated an unshakeable historic British connection

As headlines roared about the UK election and the ongoing woeful Brexit saga, the 4MBS Festival of Classics concert Mozart and the English Bach, presented by the Queensland Choir and Sinfonia of St Andrew’s, celebrated an unshakeable historic British connection.…

 
Alan Holley talks about his works being performed by Sirius Chamber Ensemble

In the lead up to Sirius Chamber Ensemble’s concert on Friday 23 June, 2017, I interviewed Alan Holley who composed most of the works in the program. Kate: Sirius Chamber Ensemble has performed several of your compositions and you have…

 
Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra’s Unfinished Romance; I wished it didn’t finish

I have to confess something right here, at the very beginning of this review. I am, quite simply, in love with the Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra. I say this not apologetically, but just in order to let you know…

 
Eyes wide open at Argo Saturation: music heard, felt and seen

Trying to classify an Argo performance is like trying to describe a flavour. To really get it, you have to experience it.

 
Bravo and congratulations to everyone at Con Opera for La Calisto

La Calisto by Francesco Cavalli is a beautiful opera in three acts, ripe for fun and games. Characters hide and overhear things they shouldn’t, dresses are taken on an off, and cross dressing is de rigeur! It’s all typical of…

 
An evening of beautiful music from Eusebius and Florestan

The Friends of Eusebius and Florestan – a name which represents the contrasting dreamy and passionate natures of Robert Schumann – produced a performance of Schubert at the Northcote Town Hall which wended amiably and comfortably through these contrasting styles.…

 
Wolfgang Steffen’s composition superbly recorded at Sydney Conservatorium of Music

I’ve been enjoying my super music dictionary, the 29 volume New Grove II, for about eight years, but this is the first time I’ve noticed a typo, as I read the entry for Wolfgang Steffen. It’s not an insignificant one,…

 
Ayşe Goknur Shanal and Andrea Katz present Les Chemins De l’Amour

From the moment that Ayşe Goknur Shanal entered the Utzon Room at Sydney Opera House we were transported through song from a sparkling autumnal Sydney Harbour, to the shores of Italy, Spain, Argentina and France. Les Chemins de l’Amour brought…

 
A Balancing Act: The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Circa

I was sad to miss the first collaboration in 2015 of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Circa. Who doesn’t like a circus? This time I was looking forward to hearing some old tunes from the Brandenburg’s CD Tapas and some…

 
Sirius Chamber Ensemble bring many Musical Tales to life with caring, exciting and authoritative performances

This recital by the Sirius Chamber Ensemble was as much about words as it was music. Each of the five works had spoken text and their success as integrated compositions was due in the main to the quality of the…

 
Sydney Mozart Society presents Australia Piano Quartet

Chatswood on a Friday night is buzzing with the night food markets and people heading out for time with their family and friends. Climbing the stairs to the concourse is like heading up to the temple, where one can see…

 
Pacific Opera’s Race for the Sky showcases our emerging singers

What do you do? You’ve spent three to four years working hard on your voice to perform some of the greatest music in the world to the best of your ability. Then what? Sydney is lucky to have Pacific Opera…

 
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