Australian concerts & recordings

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

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…

 
Josie & The Emeralds’ Monteverdi and the Golden Age was a delight

The singer Josie Ryan and the viol consort The Emeralds are doing a series of concerts this year to commemorate the 450th anniversary of Claudio Monteverdi’s birth. Monteverdi’s music stands at the cusp between the Renaissance and the Baroque and…

 
Sydney Chamber Choir’s German Romantics was an amazing concert of flawless music

I first met young conductor Sam Allchurch on a tour bus in 2003, travelling around the United States with Gondwana Voices. Tonight’s guest conductor would sit next to me on the bus and we discuss in detail the music we…

 
Flinders Quartet’s Schubert in the South was over too soon

Flinders Quartet is such a well-established ensemble on the Melbourne, and indeed Australian, music scene that one might be tempted to view an evening with them as ‘just another performance’ but how wrong that would be! Thursday evening at The…

 
Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra provided an evening of joy and wonder leading the audience through a soundscape rich in deep emotional resonance

The Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra (ARCO) brought a touch of Italian Romance to the Elisabeth Murdoch Hall at the Melbourne Recital Centre on Friday night, and it was an evening of joy and wonder for all. A trio of…

 
Australian Haydn Ensemble’s Boccherini Night Streets – authentic HIPsters at atmospheric Cell Block Theatre

After a prolonged run of wet weather in Sydney, the sun shone brightly for the first concert of the Australian Haydn Ensemble’s 2017 season. It featured the works of WA Mozart, Luigi Boccherini, and Giuseppe Cambini, either arranged for or…

 
Gavriel Lipkind’s Bible of the Cello

Occasionally you attend a solo recital that reaffirms your belief in the importance of the genre and the concert at the packed Utzon Room at the Sydney Opera House by the cellist Gavriel Lipkind was one of those events. A…

 
Streeton Trio lifted the heart, gladdened the soul and played in complete accord

The long line-up outside the Independent Theatre well before opening time augured well for the afternoon’s events, indicating that the regulars know the quality of the lavish afternoon tea provided as part of the afternoon’s entertainment. The ‘Prelude in Tea’…

 
Three: an evening of open, intelligent, intuitively understandable, whimsical, and purposeful music

Whimsical, Intelligent and Difficult. This is how Don Immel, on the Trombone for Three, a unique ensemble seeking to challenge and expand the chamber music space with their combination of brass and guitar, characterised both the final piece on offer…

 
The Muffat Collective started the season with a concert filled with discoveries

I first heard the newly-formed Muffat Collective play in the Live Broadcast Studio of radio station Fine Music FM 102.5 late last year and was most impressed. They announced themselves as the latest group of historically-informed performers of seventeenth and…

 
The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra staged Handel’s Messiah is a showpiece

“He’s not the messiah, he’s a very naughty boy!” The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra stage Handel’s Messiah. It’s a momentous occasion, a season opening concert, and what better than to launch with the masterpiece that is George Frideric Handel’s Messiah. I…

 
‘Masterpieces’ concert by Thomas Heywood was seamless

Thomas Heywood’s choice of repertoire on Saturday 18 February at Kelvin Grove College Theatre, presented by TOSA QLD (Theatre Organ Society of Australia QLD), was varied and impressive. The first piece, The Great Gate of Kiev from Pictures at an…

 
Omega Ensemble: it is hard to imagine a better performance of the Haydn and Mozart pieces in a more beautiful venue

The Utzon Room with its sweeping harbour views behind the stage is always a favourite venue for its dreamy atmosphere. Having the Omega ensemble present this delightful program here was a treat.

 
Song Company Accidental Plan’s engaged the audience from beginning to end

Listening to the Song Company in the Yellow House, Potts Point was for many in the audience a trip back in time. Revisiting works and composers that were played on a regular basis in Sydney in the seventies this cabaret…

 
Multiple Keyboards showcased modern works on 4 grands and 3 toy pianos

An inspiring concert in an interesting venue and the repertoire was engaging. This was apparently the third such concert; if there are more, I will be there!

 
Zelman Symphony showed Stefan Cassomenos in fine form for a Scandinavian theme

Pianist Stefan Cassomenos strode on stage to warm applause, and left it to a thunderous ovation some 30 minutes later.

 
Omega Ensemble’s debut recording on ABC Classics is interesting and polished

The famous and much-loved Clarinet Quintet of Mozart, and two contemporary pieces composed by fellow Australians, Ian Munro and George Palmer.

 
Josie & The Emeralds celebrating St Cecilia with Viols, Voice, and Organ

Their concerts are always an uplifting and joyful experience. Amy Johansen playing organ really added to the celebration of the life of St Cecilia.

 
Enigma Quartet showed marvellous interplay at The Independent Theatre

A fairly young but accomplished string quartet named The Enigma Quartet presented the monthly Prelude in Tea concert at The Independent Theatre in North Sydney on a warm spring afternoon.

 
The Evergreen Ensemble with Chris Norman and David Greenberg

The eclectic mix of music in this concert was a good light hearted toe-tapping experience. Catch them if they appear in your glen.

 
ThoroughBass Cock Crow brings Rosemary Dobson’s poetry to concert format

The concert is intimate and personal. The blend of poetry and strings is a fine choice, as the attack of the keyboard reflects the accuracy of the chosen poetic words.

 
Forest Collective’s Pierrot Lunaire had voices weave beautifully around each other

The Forest Collective is one to watch out for and I hope you are able to join them for future concerts.

 
Ensemble Offspring’s Kontiki Racket – excellent musicianship bringing new music to life

Impressive concert for the brave choice of new music, excellent musicianship and dedication to bring it to life. Great Sydney has groups so enthusiastically dedicated to sharing new music.

 
Ensemble Offspring’s Kontiki Racket festival: innovation, diversity and pushing boundaries

Giving access to the world of new music. The exploratory nature of Ensemble Offspring is important to the future of music making, both generally and in Australia specifically.

 
Acacia Quartet’s ‘Harbour Light’ program was thoroughly fascinating and engaging

Acacia Quartet approach music with humility and an invitation to the listener to engage. This is a great quality in a quartet. Long may it reign and have more of this brave programming and wonderful performance.

 
Omega Ensemble finished the year with an evening of superb music brilliantly played

A balmy evening at Angel Place was a great setting for an appealing programme given by the well-credentialled Omega ensemble and titled “Three Parts Mozart”.

 
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