WHAT’S ON: August


Capture.PNGAllison/Henderson Sydney Eisteddfod
Piano Scholarship Final
26 August, 7:30pm
Venue: Recital Hall West, Sydney
Conservatorium of Music
Tickets: $25-$30
Bookings/information: sydneyeisteddfod.com.au

Piano competitions have ranked importantly in the Sydney Eisteddfod program ever since it began in 1933. Many great talents have risen from its stages: Richard Bonynge, Geoffrey Parsons, Roger Woodward, Kathryn Selby and SimonTedeschi among them. The Allison/Henderson Piano Scholarship was established by the late B. M. Henderson in 1982, who wished to discover a promising young pianist of the level required for a professional career. Four finalists, aged 16 to 25 years, will present a complete major work of up to 35 minutes on which they will be judged.

Capture.PNGNSW Drs Orchestra Sydney
Eisteddfod Instrumental
Scholarship Final
19 August, 7:30pm
Venue: Recital Hall West, Sydney
Conservatorium of Music
Tickets: $25-$30
Bookings/information: sydneyeisteddfod.com.au

The NSW Drs Orchestra Sydney Eisteddfod Instrumental Scholarship attracts the finest players from across the nation. The final is always an inspiring occasion that no devotee of classical music should miss. Each of the six finalists, aged between 16 and 25 years, will perform a concert program of major works accompanied by acoustic piano at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music for a total of 20 minutes. The Scholarship itself endeavours to discover and encourage an outstanding instrumentalist in the fields of strings (bowed and plucked), woodwind or brass instruments.

Capture.PNGAustralian Choral Grand Prix
21 August, 2:30pm
Venue: New Hall,
Sydney Grammar School
Tickets: $33-$99
Bookings/information: sydneyeisteddfod.com.au

First presented to audiences back in 2013, the Australian Choral Grand Prix is one of the most diverse and engaging events held annually by Sydney Eisteddfod. Hosted this year by the Andrew O’Keefe, audiences can delight in this amazing showcase of some of Australia’s best choral performers, as choirs compete for top honours in both the People’s Choice and Jury Vote categories. Finalists will present a program that includes a work by an Australian composer or arranger. AlI finalists are strongly encouraged to give thought to choralography and entertainment aspects in their chosen program. The event will be recorded by Fine Music.


Capture.PNGLeonskaja & Mozart
Elisabeth Leonskaja, Piano
Roman Simović, Guest Leader
Australian Chamber Orchestra
26 Aug 1.30pm; 30 Aug 8pm;
31 Aug 7pm; 3 Sep 7pm
Venue: City Recital Hall
Tickets: $54-$149
Bookings: aco.com.au/leonskaja or 1800 444 444 

This is the Australian debut of the grand dame of the piano, Elisabeth Leonskaja, featuring music by Strauss, Mozart and Beethoven. Leonskaja has a distinguished reputation as a pianist who interprets with warmth, sensitivity and formidable technical facility. Her profound performances of core repertoire and dedication to music’s heritage place her firmly in the tradition of Russian greats, such as her mentor Sviatoslav Richter. Here Leonskaja plays Mozart’s Jeunehomme Piano Concerto, perhaps his first genuine masterpiece, a bold and elegant work that sparkles with wit and vigour, yet also evokes heartbreaking anguish with the first minor key slow movement he ever composed. Beethoven’s Op.127 quartet, the first of his late quartets, was written at the same time as his Ninth Symphony, and shares much of its sublime gravity, yet there’s delicacy and intimacy too in this transformative work. A perfect conclusion to an exquisite concert, guest directed by Roman Simović, concertmaster of the London Symphony Orchestra.


Capture.PNGElgar’s Cello Concerto
Omega Ensemble with guest artist
Teije Hylkema
5 September 7:30pm
Venue: City Recital Hall
Tickets: $29-$94
Bookings: cityrecitalhall.com or 8256 2222
Information: omegaensemble.com.au 

In 1919, in the aftermath of the Great War and as Elgar’s health began to fail, the composer poured his feelings into this haunting lament for a lost world. Poignant and restrained, the Cello Concerto is interpreted with maturity by Dutch cellist Teije Hylkema. The Concerto is set against the assured sophistication of fellow Englishman Benjamin Britten’s Sinfonietta, a work that belies the age of its creator – for Britten was just 18 when it was composed. Mozart’s Fantasia in F minor showcases Omega Ensemble’s musical precision, while contemporary works by French composer Guillaume Connesson and Australia’s own Mark Grandison are delivered with characteristic flair.


Capture.PNGSaxon Baroque
Music of CPE Bach & JD Heinichen
Sydney University Graduate Choir and Orchestra
Christopher Bowen OAM, Music Director
Soloists: Anita Kyle (soprano), Ashlyn Tymms (alto), Richard Butler
(tenor), Simon Lobelson (bass)
21 August, 3pm, Great Hall, University of Sydney
Tickets: $25-$45
Bookings: 9351 7940 or seymourcentre.com
Information: https://singon.wordpress.com/hear-us

This concert features two exceptional works from Saxony’s Baroque era. Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s triumphant Magnificat was composed in 1749 while Bach was resident in Berlin in the post of Kammermusikus to King Frederick the Great of Prussia. The work shows Bach’s mastery of both the ‘modern’ galant style and strict counterpoint. Johann David Heinichen was the most important musical representative of the Catholic Court of Dresden, besides Hasse and Zelenka. He spent several years in Italy, particularly in Venice, before being appointed Kapellmeister to the Elector of Saxony in Dresden in 1716. Heinichen’s Mass No.9 is characterised by elaborate brass sections, giving it a truly majestic sound, well suited for the Saxon Court. It also features powerful choruses and solos, and some remarkable fugal writing.


Capture.PNGMosman Concert Series’ 70th Anniversary
With Sydney Youth Orchestra
Brian Buggy, conductor
Venue: Blessed Sacrament Church
Bradley’s Head Road, Mosman
21 August, 2.30pm
Tickets: $20-$25
Bookings: mosmanconcertseries.org.au

Mosman Concert Series is celebrating its 70th anniversary with a special concert on 21 August, featuring Sydney Youth Orchestra’s fantastic Philharmonic – 75 immensely talented musicians from as young as 14 to HSC level – directed by celebrated conductor and music educator, Brian Buggy OAM. They are currently rehearsing for a magnificent program, including Tchaikovsky’s Marche Slav, Hamlet Overture, Sibelius’ Finlandia, movements from Dvorak’s 8th Symphony, and more. This is an event definitely not to be missed.


Capture.PNGThirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
Australia Ensemble
Guest artists: Sara Macliver, soprano; Andrew
Barnes, bassoon; Robert Johnson, horn; and
Andrew Meisel, double bass
August 13, 8pm
Venue: Sir John Clancy Auditorium UNSW
Tickets: $15-$50
Bookings: 9385 4874 or australia.ensemble@unsw.edu.au

Wallace Steven’s poem Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird is set to music in a new work for voice and ensemble by Ian Munro, commissioned by subscriber Norma Hawkins to the memory of her husband Bruce Hawkins. We are delighted to welcome soprano Sara Macliver to perform Ian’s new work, and Schubert’s charming showpiece Der Hirt auf dem Felsen (The Shepherd on the Rock). Messiaen’s fascination with birdsong is evident in his impression of a blackbird in Le Merle Noir for flute and piano. In this light, CPE Bach’s D Major quartet for flute, viola, cello and piano may also strike audience members as being similarly avian in its sonic palette. The program is crowned by Beethoven’s grand Septet, in which the composer was inspired by Mozart to fashion an absorbing exploration of colour and form.


The Song Company
In collaboration with Hollis Taylor
6 August, 3pm
Venue: Blackheath Uniting Church
13 August, 3pm
Glebe Town Hall
7 August, 3pm
Independent Theatre North Sydney
Tickets: $40
Bookings: songcompany.com.au

“They fly because they think they can”, and birds also sing like “the greatest musicians on the planet” – which composer Olivier Messiaen believed them to be. Hollis Taylor has also found direct inspiration in their dazzling and ever-varied song, and her revolutionary suite of dialogues with the Australian Butcherbird forms the backbone of this unusual contemporary vocal program, augmented by digital field recordings. The singers of The Song Company take off in style with songs of flight and freedom, including the Pauline Oliveros classic Sound Patterns, The Beatles’ Blackbird, and a piece of participatory sound art by A.M. Self, in which even the audience is free to take flight.

This article appeared in the August edition of Fine Music Magazine – you can subscribe to our monthly magazine and have it posted to your home or business or click the link here to read online.


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