ABR Arts Music

Leaf and Shadow 

Des Cowley
Tuesday, 24 September 2019

This year the Australian Art Orchestra (AAO) celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary. Originally conceived as a jazz ensemble, it has developed – first under the visionary leadership of founder Paul Grabowsky, and now under artistic director Peter Knight – into one of the country’s leading new music ensembles ...

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Letter from Bucharest

Ian Dickson
Thursday, 12 September 2019

If one were to ask the average classical music lover to guess where, in the space of three weeks, she could hear orchestras of the calibre of the Berlin Philharmonic, the London Symphony, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Dresden Staatskapelle, and the Royal Concertgebouw, and artists of the eminence of Joyce Di Donato ...

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Ives Westlake Debussy 

Sheila Fitzpatrick
Monday, 09 September 2019

Nigel Westlake’s new quartet, Sacred Sky, commissioned by the Australian String Quartet, had its première before an enthusiastic audience at Sydney’s Recital Hall on 4 September 2019. Westlake wrote it in honour of his sister, the artist Kate Westlake, who died of pancreatic cancer in January 2018 ...

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An Evening with Gun-Brit Barkmin 

Humphrey Bower
Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Those of us lucky enough to attend WASO’s concert performance of Tristan und Isolde with principal conductor Asher Fisch at the Perth Concert Hall in August 2018 were blown away by German soprano Gun-Brit Barkmin’s musically and dramatically riveting Isolde. She returned last week for this year’s ...

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Symphony orchestras around the world, presumably in order to mitigate financial pressures, have turned to Hollywood in the last few years, and Australia is hardly immune. At times it seems that one of our major orchestras is playing the score to another Harry Potter film every other week. There may have been an artistic case to make when ...

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Once in a while (more or less annually), Alexander Briger brings Australia’s orchestral musicians home from Europe, the United States, and other international and national playing fields for a cross between a concert, a jamboree, and a school reunion. It’s irresistible, and if there’s one thing that emerges from every AWO performance ...

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‘Violas should be seen and not heard,’ quipped Malcolm Sargent. Classical music lovers know very well that the viola is ripe for ridicule and has inspired countless jokes. In this concert, the viola was enjoyably celebrated as a worthy solo as well as accompanying instrument. Brett Dean’s Notturno Quieto, an Australian première, begins with a viola solo, as does Bartók’s Viola Concerto.

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Midwinter Melbourne resounded last week to Igor Stravinsky’s promise of spring, in two works that trace the seasonal drama of life, death, and rebirth. The Rite of Spring (1913) is a young man’s spectacular evocation of the exhilaration and terror of spring in ancient Russia, while Perséphone (1934) is a more reflective response to the endless cycle of the seasons, written by an older and more spiritual composer by then in permanent exile.

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2019 Melbourne International Jazz Festival

Des Cowley
Wednesday, 12 June 2019

In 1959, Miles Davis entered Columbia’s 30th Street Studio in New York, with his sextet, and recorded what many consider to be the greatest jazz album of all time: Kind of Blue. It was an inspired idea to program a performance of this music, in celebration of the album’s sixtieth anniversary, at the twenty-second Melbourne International Jazz Festival ...

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The Stonnington Jazz Festival

Des Cowley
Tuesday, 21 May 2019

It was a bold move by Stonnington Jazz to program an all-female/non-binary performance for the Festival’s opening concert: War Cry. Jazz, like much else, has come in for its fair share of criticism in the #MeToo era, its historical icons – bar a few exceptions – made up mostly of male musicians ...

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