Lauren Fagan selected as Australian representative in 2019 Cardiff Singer of the World

We are delighted to confirm that Lauren Fagan is to be the Australian representative in the 2019 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World.

To be selected as your nation’s representative is  a great honour, we are thrilled for her

Twenty singers from 15 countries have been chosen for this summer’s competition.
The contestants come from 15 countries – three Russians, two each from South Korea, Ukraine and USA, and others from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, England, Guatemala (for the first time), Mexico, Mongolia, Portugal, South Africa and Wales.

Lauren was supported by the Trust in 2013 & 2014 during her studies at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Her award was funded by Michael Whalley OAM & Karen Goldie-Morrison.

To learn more about how to support a young artist from Australia or New Zealand please contact James

james@taitmemorialtrust.org

To learn more click here

Glowing reviews for Jessica Cottis conducting ‘The Monstrous Child’

The reviews are in for the world premiere of The Monstrous Child’ by Gavin Higgins and Francesca Simon, a new production directed by Timothy Sheader and designed by Paul Wills, at the Linbury Theatre, The Royal Opera House. We are thrilled to see that #TaitAwardee, and Chair of the Tait Music Board, Jessica Cottis has received such glowing reviews for her work. Brava Jessica, we are so proud of you.

Isla Baring OAM, Chairman of the Tait Trust

“I had tickets for the opening night of The Monstrous Child,  and it was sensational!  Jessica Cottis was brilliant the way she handled this modern music, the incredible production, and the singers in this new opera. Bravo to Covent Garden at the newly refurbished  Linbury Theatre. The reviews say it all! We are so proud of Jessica who is really making her way Up!! I am sure.”

Isla Baring OAM with Jessica Cottis

 The Times: 

“…superbly delivered by the Aurora Orchestra under Jessica Cottis’s direction” 

The Telegraph:

“Jessica Cottis conducts the Aurora Orchestra with aplomb.”

Financial Times

“…strikingly brought to life by the Aurora Orchestra conducted by Jessica Cottis” 

The Arts Desk: 

“Jessica Cottis directs members of the Aurora Orchestra with incisive clarity, deploying her forces strategically, always mindful of the singers who must project Simon’s text without the help of surtitles. It’s no small praise to say that you hardly lose a word.”

The Stage: 

“riotously conveyed by the Aurora Orchestra under the baton of Jessica Cottis” 

Classical Music: 

“Cottis creates an ideal balance”

Planet Hugill: 

“In the pit, Jessica Cottis drew a striking sound world from the players of the Aurora Orchestra” 

 

“Hear My Soul Speak” Finding Prospero in Shakespeare’s verbal music.

A performance research presentation from Shakespeare’s The Tempest

3 performances only at
London Theatre Workshop 
EC3V. 
April 13-14.

This work-in-progress multi-media performance explores the mind and persona of Shakespeare’s most enigmatic protagonist, Prospero.

It does so by investigating the dramatic ramifications of sound patterning in Shakespeare’s poetry—what Peter Brook has referred to as the “verbal music” to expose the sound-world Shakespeare creates through words.

Nowhere else in Shakespeare is the action, and even the disposition of all the characters so utterly the construction of the central protagonist. Shakespeare uses the device of a stage magician – a Faustian necromancer, to explore a single character through all the stage action of the drama.

This expressionist approach to characterisation is fuelled by the most knotted, ornate and ethereal language in the Shakespearean canon. That language creates a sound world that is simultaneously the world of the island, and a sonic portrait of Prospero’s psyche.

Gerrard McArthur (Howard Barker’s The Wrestling School) plays Prospero in a performance that draws not just on Prospero’s own words, but those of his alter egos Ariel and Caliban.

The performance incorporates some of the play’s surviving music by the play’s gifted original composer Robert Johnson. Johnson was composer-in-residence to Shakespeare’s company the King’s Men in Shakespeare’s final years. This performance draws on new research into Johnson’s other surviving songs to partially reconstruct an original score for the play.

Counter-tenor Russell Harcourt 
(Oreste – Royal Opera House) sings the music of Ariel.

Through live projection, video artist Ben Glover creates a visual expression of the sonic patterning in the poetry, and the diffusion of Prospero’s persona beyond the confines of the body of the actor who ‘plays’ him throughout the other characters and the world of the play.

Book your tickets via London Theatre Workshop here.

This performance is the inaugural presentation of Persona per sona – a performance research initiative led by McArthur and Australian director Christopher Hurrell into the somatic implications for the actor of sound in the language of Shakespeare.

Gerrard McArthur and Russell Harcourt, with Alice Haig, via video as Miranda.

Director: Christopher Hurrell
Sound Designer: Nikki Aitken
Video Designer: Ben Glover
Stage Manager: Jari Laakso

London Theatre Workshop
Leadenhall Market
88 Gracechurch Street
London EC3V 0DN

More information: www.christopherhurrell.com/hear-my-soul-speak

Tickets: www.londontheatreworkshop.co.uk/hear-my-soul-speak

To support this production gofundme  https://www.gofundme.com/hearmysoulspeak

To take advantage of tax-deductible status Australian Cultural Fund

Stuart Skelton sings Wagner | Concert now on sale

The Tait Memorial Trust is to present renowned Australian tenor Stuart Skelton, at a gala concert to celebrate our 25th Anniversary at St Paul’s Church Knightsbridge, on Wednesday the 13th September at 7pm.

“Stuart Skelton’s Tristan is the finest account of Wagner’s most extreme and taxing operatic character…that I’ve ever seen or heard on a stage.”  David Nice, The Arts Desk, June 2016

Stuart is arguably the world’s leading Wagnerian Heldentenor; he is critically acclaimed for outstanding musicianship, tonal beauty and for his intensely dramatic portrayals. As Tristan, he recently opened the 2017/18 season at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, and will make his long-awaited Royal Opera House debut singing Siegmund in Die Walküre in 2018.

To book click here

He will shortly appear in this year’s BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall singing Florestan in Beethoven’s Fidelio. Accompanied by pianist Richard Peirson, Stuart will be joined by some of the Tait’s talented past and present awardees, Catherine Carby who is singing in the Royal Opera’s Ring Cycle next year, Deborah Humble who most recently recorded Erda for Naxos with Hong Kong Philharmonic, Katrina Sheppeard who last year sang Norma for English National Opera, Jayson Gillham who’s CD of Chopin, Bach and Schubert went to number 1 in Australia, and Liane Keegan, our first awardee, will return to London after a triumphant season in Melbourne’s recent Ring Cycle.

All are appearing to help raise funds for the Tait Trust’s work of providing scholarships for young performing artists from Australia and New Zealand studying in the UK.  The evening will be introduced by Richard Wagner’s great-great grandson, Antoine Wagner.

Samantha Crawford, soprano | 2017 Julian Baring Award

We are delighted to confirm that Samantha Crawford has been awarded the 2017 Julian Baring Award. The Julian Baring award winner is selected personally by our Chairman, Isla Baring OAM, it is one of the Trust’s most prestigious awards. This summer Samantha will debut at the Bayreuther Festspiele in concert and perform Agathe DER FREISCHÜTZ for Blackheath Opera.

This year we are thrilled to announce that awards to the value of £47,100 are to be offered to young performing artists from Australia and New Zealand. This is an increase of 22% compared to last year’s awards, awards growth has been an outstanding 362% in the past 5 years. We will be announcing our other music award recipients in the coming weeks. This growth is due to the incredibly generous support of our Friends and our Principal Partner, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Thank you!

Samantha Crawford

Samantha graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama’s Opera Course, where she studied with Yvonne Kenny AM as a Baroness de Turckheim Scholar. Samantha is the winner of the Golden Medal with Honours at the 2017 inaugural Berliner International Music Competition, First Prize and President’s Prize at the 2016 Wagner Society Singing Competition and Royal Philharmonic Society Chilcott Award finalist.

Equally at home on stage singing in opera or concert, Samantha has performed at Glyndebourne, Edinburgh Festival, Scottish Opera, Aldeburgh Festival, Garsington Opera,
Opera Holland Park, Wigmore Hall, Barbican, Wales Millennium Centre and Schlosstheater
Schönbrunn. She received critical acclaim for her recent performances of Rosalinde DIE
FLEDERMAUS, Contessa LE NOZZE DI FIGARO, Donna Elvira DON GIOVANNI, Micaela
CARMEN, Erste Dame DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE and Mrs. Coyle OWEN WINGRAVE. Her
performances have been broadcast on live cinema relay in Europe, on television and radio for the BBC and filmed for DVD (Sony).

Recent engagements include Samantha’s debut at Teatro Real Madrid as a Blumenmädchen PARSIFAL under Semyon Bychkov, debut at the Bayreuther Festspiele in concert, Agathe DER FREISCHÜTZ for Blackheath Opera, title role in SOUR ANGELICA at Théâtre municipal de Fontainebleau, Fiordiligi COSI FAN TUTTE for Scottish Opera and Miss Jessel TURN OF THE SCREW for GTO covers. In concert, Chausson’s POÈME DE L’AMOUR ET DE LA MER at Barbican Milton Court, Mozart’s REQUIEM under Martyn Brabbins, Wagner’s WESENDONCK LIEDER for City of London Festival and Strauss’ VIER LETZTE LIEDER at Blackheath Halls.

Photo credit: Jeremy Hosking

Website: www.samanthacrawford.com

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNSDS49jfKLzjx3E0f3KIEg

Tait Winter Prom 2016 at St John's Smith Square | Sponsored by Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Reflecting upon our 5th Tait Winter Prom and our rapidly approaching quarter century, I feel overwhelmed by the wonderful support and goodwill we had for this event, as for all of them since our very first concert with Liane Keegan at Australia House in 1992. A major Australian scholarship holder, Liane‘s arrival in the UK in that year prompted me to think about how we might set about trying to help talented young Australians arriving to study and work in Europe, and thus the Tait Memorial Trust was born.

 

2016 was  another big and busy year for us, with three successful events, in addition to the Winter Prom. In the 2016/17 UK academic year  19 young artists will receive assistance from us, of awards totalling £40,000, which is more than triple the sum of only three years ago. Especially pleasing is the support of young dancers through the Leanne Benjamin Awards, and we look forward to extending our relationships with individuals and corporations who recognise the challenges facing very young Australian dancers leaving home and family to follow their dreams.

We also acknowledge a generous bequest from the Estate of Lady Mackerras, which will guarantee a ten year sponsorship of an orchestral chair for an Australian musician, in the Southbank Sinfonia, in the name of Sir Charles Mackerras. Heartfelt thanks to their daughter, Cathy, for appreciating and continuing the encouragement her father and mother always warmly extended to us.

The Trust has been honoured with such generous and continuing support and friendship from HE The Hon. Alexander Downer, High Commissioner for Australia, and his wife Nicola, who were our guests of honour at the Prom. With the help of a new enthusiastic and hard-working Tait Artistic Planning Committee, we again formed a near all-Australian chamber orchestra, a number of whom have been supported by the Trust in their studies. Our conductor Jessica Cottis, who is chairing this committee, is fast gaining recognition internationally for her work, and we are so very lucky to have her inspirational guidance as we continue to support the next generation of talented young Australians who come here to complete their studies.

We dedicated our first work, Mozart‘s Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra K364 to our much loved Patron, The Dowager Countess of Harewood, on the occasion of her 90th Birthday. Once a professional violinist herself, this has special meaning for her. We are so grateful for Lady Harewood’s patronage over much of our 25 years – that she has wanted to share our cause has been very gratifying, and immensely helpful to us. A very happy 90th Birthday!

Dowager Countess of Harewood
Dowager Countess of Harewood

We are also deeply indebted to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, who have been our Principal Partner for the past three years. We hope, as they see the important work we do for the young Australians in this highly competitive arts marketplace here, that their very welcome support will continue.

Chevalier Richard Gunter has once again generously sponsored our venue, this time the marvellous St John‘s Smith Square, and to our many individual sponsors and loyal supporters, all of whom we gratefully acknowledge below: we are so pleased to see your sponsorship growing year-on-year – we can‘t do without you!

Chevalier Richard Gunter
Chevalier Richard Gunter

Please continue to help us in any way you can (Click here for further information). Next year is our 25th anniversary and our work goes on! Happy Christmas, we look forward to seeing you in the New Year.

isla_signature_transparent

Isla Baring OAM
Chairman,
The Tait Memorial Trust

Tait Winter Prom Angels
Chev. Richard Gunter (Hire of the Hall)
The Hon. Sarah Joiner (Programme printing)
Mrs Jan Gowrie-Smith (Conductor)
The Linbury Trust
The Bernays Trust
Mr Kerry Rubie
Viscountess Bridgeman
Lady Rosa Lipworth CBE
Dame Norma Major DBE
Mrs Pamela Le Couter
Mr Patrick Kennedy
Mrs Lyn Robertson
Mr & Mrs J Bryant
Lady Jopling
Mr Christin Odey

Supported the Orchestra
Mr Peter Box
Mrs Katherine Scholfield
Mrs Lynette Braithwaite
The Hon. Susan Baring OBE
Mrs June Mendoza AM OBE
Countess of Portsmouth
Mr Henry Lumley
The Hon. Mrs Patricia Wyndham

Partners:
Australia Day Foundation
Australian Business
Britain-Australia Society
Royal Over-Seas League
Australian Charity
Art Auction
Australian Women‘s Club, London
The Cook Society

With thanks:
Roses Only UK
SANZA
Raffle Prize donors
West Green Opera
Nexus

Special thanks:
Diana Murray
Jeremy Vinogradov
Vivien Conacher
Simon Campion
Amanda Fitzwilliams
Acknowledgements:
Bobby Williams, Video
Hannan Images, Photo
Anne Longdon
Jessica Cottis
Artistic Planning Committee
Steve McRae
Tonight‘s soloists
The Tait Chamber Orchestra
The Tait Committee
The Sidney Nolan Trust

OUR SUPPORTERS
We are very grateful for the support that we receive from

Principal Partner
Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Tait Grainger Patron £10,000+
Julian Baring Family*
The Estate of Lady Mackerras*

Tait Sutherland Benefactor £5,000+
Sir David & Lady Higgins*
Mr John Frost AM*

Tait Bonynge Partner £3,000+
The Estate of Peggy Haim

Tait Helpmann Circle £1,000+
Mrs Jan Gowrie-Smith
Chevalier Richard Gunter
Mr & Mrs David Hunter
Mr Albert Kwok & Mrs Stephanie McGregor
Mr Andrew Loewenthal & Ms Eugenie White*
The Thornton Foundation
Mrs Margaret Rodgers
Mrs Jacqueline Thompson & Mr Damian Walsh
Mr Michael Whalley
Ms Karen Goldie-Morrison*
Ms Louise Worthington*
VEC Acorn Trust

TMT Frank & Viola Friends £500+
Mr Julian Agnew
Mr & Mrs Christopher Braithwaite
Mr Hugh Bayne

Tait Amis Supporter £250+
Mr John Coke
The Hon. Sarah Joiner
Mrs Anne Longdon
Mr & Mrs Jan Pethick
Mr Kerry Rubie
The Hon. Sir R. Storey Bt CBE

TMT Friends £75+
Miss Marylyn Abbott
Mr Eric Adler
Mrs June Allison
Ms Ariadne Jane Baring
The Hon. Mark Baring
The Hon. Susan Baring OBE
Mrs Nina Bialoguski
Mr Lindsay Birrell
Ms Sue Bradbury
Viscountess Harriet Bridgeman
Mrs Diana Burley
Mrs Lorraine Buckland
Mrs Jane Butter
Mr Marcus Clapham
Mrs Sandra Clapham
Mr John Crisp
Ms Fay Curtin
Mr Roger Davenport
Mrs Anne Davidson
Mrs Celeste Ekerick
Mr Edward Field
Dr Rodney Foale
Miss Rosemary Frischer
Mr Phillip Hart
Dr John Keets
Mr Patrick Kennedy
Mr Martin Kramer
Mrs Wendy Kramer
Lady Rosa Lipworth CBE
Mr Henry Lumley
Miss Joanna McCallum
Ms Sue McGregor
Ms Lisa Orlov
Ms Mary Rayner
Mr John Rendall
Ms Jacqueline Rowlands
Ms Katherine Scholfield
Mr Ian Tegner
Mrs Annette Thorp
Rev John Wates OBE
*Adopt a Performer

Ensemble Molière plans to produce Rameau's opera, 'Pygmalion' | Interview with Jakab Kaufmann

Jakab Kaufmann is a successful bassoonist from Sydney now based in Europe. He trained as an orchestral musician and a conductor in Sydney before moving to Basel where he studied early music at the renowned Schola Cantorum Basiliensis.

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Jakab Kaufmann

Now living in Bern, he has established himself as a freelance musician working with ensembles and orchestras in Switzerland, Germany and the UK, playing on both modern and historical instruments. One of his upcoming ventures is a new, innovative production of Rameau’s Pygmalion with his colleagues in the London-based Ensemble Molière. Speaking to Jakab, I asked him about his work and this exciting new project:

How does an orchestral musician make the leap to specialising in early music, particularly after studying to be a conductor?

While I was studying conducting at the Sydney Conservatorium, I was asked to play baroque bassoon for the early music ensemble’s performance of Gluck’s “The Pilgrims to Mecca.” I’d never played this instrument before and I thought it sounded horrible but once I braved the potential embarrassment of playing in front of other people, I discovered the incredible resonance within an ensemble. I started playing more and more and learned to love the difficulties of playing such a different instrument. There seemed to be so much to learn and enjoy from playing music on an instrument so distantly related to the one I’d previously dedicated my life to.

Like so many Australian musicians you decided to move overseas. I am interested to know why you chose Switzerland? Was it your first choice?

I decided a long time ago that I wanted to move to the German speaking world and in 2011, I attended a summer school at the Humboldt University in Berlin. I spent a month there improving my German and I still have a soft spot for that city. My path changed however and whilst I still entertain the idea of returning to conducting someday, my goal quickly re-focussed on being a well-rounded musician in whatever form it took. I flew to Europe in 2013 and travelled around, doing masterclasses on both modern and baroque bassoons, and visiting different teachers until I decided on Basel and its famous Schola were perfect for me. It’s a very international school with a great balance of academic research and performance-based projects. The community is very positive and creative, which lead to some great friendships and fantastic opportunities.

The UK can be quite a distant world to the continent without the right connections. How did you began to work here?

I attended the Dartington International Summer School’s Baroque Orchestra Programme with a scholarship in 2013. The environment there is so open and relaxed that it’s conducive to amazing opportunities. I made friends with many different musicians there, including established professional musicians who have been able to organise projects with me. In addition to various audition processes, I’ve also reconnected with a lot of friends from Sydney who have moved to the UK. The life of a freelance musician is very much dependant on who you know and luckily, some lovely people have helped me get my name out there.

As a founding member of the young early music group, Ensemble Molière could you tell me about your work and the repertoire you play?

We first played together in this combination in 2014 at the Dartington International Summer School and the first piece we played was the “Deuxième récréation de musique” by Jean-Marie Leclair. That experience made us realise that we worked well as an ensemble and that we all wanted to play more French music. Since then we’ve gone on to perform concerts in Brighton, Graz, Bruges and Utrecht, as well as more regular concerts in London.

We were lucky enough to participate in the Brighton Early Music Festival’s Early Music Live! Scheme in 2015 and we were invited to return for our own concert in the 2016 Festival. We’ve expanded our repertoire and recorded our music and we’re always looking for opportunities to push the boundaries of the modern-concert programme.

French music retains an element of mystery today and I was curious as to why you think we don’t see enough of it on today’s concert programmes:

When you study music in English and German-speaking schools, French music before Debussy rarely gets a look in. The truth is, Paris has played a more important role in music than Vienna or London at various points throughout history. For example, in the Middle Ages, the French-speaking world was essentially the musical centre of Europe. That changed with the printing press, the migration of Netherlandish musicians to Italy, and of course, the reformation.

harvard_theatre_collection_m1520-r212_f4_1748_-_pigmalion_title

However, the French court at Versailles was an incredible force for artistic support and the “French Baroque” led to some of the most unique music this world has ever known. Because of the rivalry with the Italians and the influence of kings like Louis XIV, French musicians played very different instruments in a very different way. The wind instruments were built in another way, the string players used different bows, and the keyboard instruments had their own designs. The performers would also use very individual ornaments, which some composers like Couperin took the time to write down with full explanations. The music itself is sometimes harmonically dissimilar to the German high-baroque masters that people tend to think of and it can also feel more static than the repetitive patterns of the Venetians like Vivaldi. I think this is why performers have, in the past, neglected the nuanced and delicate sounds of France. The good news is that French music is constantly being rediscovered!

Your upcoming project at festivals in London and Brighton will see a new take on French Opera.Could you tell me a bit about the project’s background?

As our first large-scale project, we wanted to explore a genre that is not commonly addressed by chamber groups but is incredibly important to the French Baroque: Opera. Rameau’s greatest contributions to music include his solo keyboard works, his theoretical writings and his many operas. The forces required to perform them are so large that most opera companies don’t stage his works too often. As a result, his music doesn’t get heard often enough. We thought we would bring one of his shorter operas, at 45 minutes, to the people with a more accessible medium with a smaller ensemble on stage.

Rameau’s Pygmalion is based on the original Greek legend of a sculptor who falls in love with his own creation. Most people today would be more familiar with the George Bernard Shaw version which came much later, and led to the even-more popular “My Fair Lady.” We’ve teamed up with artist Kate Anderson and director Karolina Sofulak to present a live performance of the opera with animation and simplified surtitles, so as to make it accessible and enjoyable for everyone.

I would be interested to know about what stage the project is in? What are your plans for such an ambitious undertaking, how are they progressing and how can audiences can help?

We’re still at the funding stage which is looking very promising. We will be applying to the Arts Council for a grant to make the project happen once we’ve secured enough funding from other sources. We’ve started a crowdfunder to collect an initial investment of £3000 by 9th January. This would show the Arts Council that we have support from both the artistic and wider community for this project. We’ve been offering rewards ranging from Thank-You tweets right up to private concerts in peoples’ homes. If you’d like to contribute, the crowdfunder site with a video explaining the project can be found here: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/ensemble-moliere. Any help is always appreciated as we’re very passionate about getting this project off the ground and onto the stage.

As you can see, Jakab is dedicated to expanding the confines of the contemporary musical experience. We wish him and his ensemble all the best for this exciting project. We are thrilled to see Australian musicians like himself pushing the boundaries and we can’t wait to see where his career takes him next.

Please click here if you would like to be a part of Rameau’s, Pygmalion, with Ensemble Molière

 Ensemble Molière website

Jakab played first bassoon in the Tait Winter Prom, Tait Chamber Orchestra in 2014 & 2016

 

 

 

Viola, Lady Tait (nee Viola Wilson), Founding Patron of the Tait Memorial Trust | THE D'OYLY CARTE OPERA COMPANY

Viola, Lady Tait’s zest for life was an inspiration. These qualities remained with her always together with a remarkable memory, clarity of mind and youthful outlook. With a prodigious vocal talent she excelled in the operas of Gilbert & Sullivan, beginning as a chorister with the Carl Rosa Company in the United Kingdom, graduating to the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, and was given a year’s contract as principal soprano. Accepting a contract to tour Australia in 1940, she was to meet and marry her future husband, Frank Tait.

She was a champion of new and emerging talent, adjudicating for numerous scholarships and awards both in Australia and overseas. As an adjudicator for The Mobil Quest in 1950, Viola was instrumental in launching Joan Sutherland’s career. This passion for supporting young artists continued throughout her life, in 1992 she inspired her daughter, Isla Baring, to organise a fundraising concert in support of a young Australian singer, Liane Keegan, who was newly arrived in London. It kicked off with a Christmas Concert at Australia House. The concert was a great success and became the foundation of our yearly events. Liane went on to have a major international career, she sang Erda in the recent Opera Australia, Ring Cycle.

Programme for JC Williamson's production 'Chu Chin Chow', Theatre Royal 26 May,1923
Programme for JC Williamson’s production ‘Chu Chin Chow’, Theatre Royal 26 May,1923

In 1984, the Performing Arts Collection, housed at the then newly opened Victorian Arts Centre, received a significant donation from Lady Tait of 300 costume designs by leading European theatrical designers of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods. The designs had been imported for use in re-staging productions in Australasia by the commercial theatre management J.C. Williamson Ltd and its forerunners.

Another of her loves was writing and researching Australian theatrical history. She amassed a formidable collection of theatrical memorabilia and was the author of The Family of Brothers (1971), which chronicled the contribution of the Tait brothers to Australian theatre.

Lady McKell and Viola Tait at opening of the ballet, ca. 1950 1 photograph
Lady McKell and Viola Tait at opening of the ballet, ca. 1950

Her last book, Dames, Principal Boys and all that: A History of Pantomine in Australia (2001) was lavishly launched at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne, the home of the Tait-Williamson empire. When Viola’s death was announced the illuminated sign outside the Theatre read “Farewell Lady Tait, Star”.

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Viola Wilson (1938-39)   

Source: The Gilbert & Sullivan Archive         

[Born Pressburg, Austria-Hungary 1 Nov 1911, died Melbourne, Australia 6 Feb 2002]

Viola Wilson, whose real name was Viola Hogg, studied singing for six years at the Scottish National Academy of Music. In 1935 she was engaged by the Carl Rosa Opera Company and sang in the chorus of Die Fledermaus at the Lyceum Theatre, London. After tours of the British Isles and South Africa, she graduated to principal soprano.

Upon returning to London she auditioned with D’Oyly Carte Opera Company and was given a year’s contract as principal soprano, taking Viola Wilson (her maternal grandfather’s name) as her stage name at Rupert D’Oyly Carte’s suggestion. From May 1938 to June 1939 she appeared with the Company as Patience in Patience, Phyllis in Iolanthe, Yum-Yum in The Mikado, and Gianetta in The Gondoliers. Three of these parts were shared with other artists at various times: Patience and Phyllis with Ann Drummond-Grant until December 1938, and Gianetta with Helen Roberts. Miss Wilson also appeared on occasion in 1938-39 as Rose Maybud in Ruddigore and Elsie Maynard in The Yeomen of the Guard. She left the D’Oyly Carte in June 1939.

Viola Wilson then accepted an offer from Nevin Tait, J. C. Williamson’s London director to tour Australia and New Zealand in the Gilbert & Sullivan operas. In the 1940-42 Williamson tour she appeared as Aline in The Sorcerer, Josephine in H.M.S. Pinafore, Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance, Casilda in The Gondoliers, Princess Ida in Princess Ida, Rose, Patience, Phyllis, and Elsie. While in Australia, she met and married Frank Tait, later Sir Frank, the youngest of the five Tait brothers who were then running the Williamson Company. She retired as a singer in 1946 but remained involved with the Williamson Company, serving for a time as an artistic director.

Viola Wilson in character as Elsie in Gilbert and Sullivan's The yeoman of the guard, 1940?] [picture] / S.J. Hood
Viola Wilson in character as Elsie in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The yeoman of the guard, 1940?] [picture] / S.J. Hood

Following Sir Frank Tait’s death in 1965, Lady Viola Tait, as she was then known, wrote an informal history of the Williamson-Tait partnership. In “A Family of Brothers: The Taits and J. C. Williamson; a Theatre History” (William Heinemann, Melbourne, 1971) she also provides a good deal of information about her own life and career.

Lady Tait retained her interest in the performing arts thoughout her life and was a patron of many arts organizations, including the Tait Memorial Trust. She was instrumental in the establishment of the Performing Arts Museum in Melbourne, and was appointed a member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1990. In her later years she published a book on the history of pantomime in Australia, “Dames, Principal Boys…and All That” (Macmillan, Melbourne, 2001)

Source: Viola Wilson

Tait Patron: Danielle De Niese on The Barber of Seville | Glyndebourne

Our Patron, Australian soprano, Danielle de Niese starred in the  Glyndebourne 2016 production of The Barber of Seville. The BBC has just announced its Christmas schedule and we are delighted to share the news that the acclaimed production will be shown on BBC Four this December. The broadcast will be preceded by a documentary that follows Danielle de Niese in her preparations for the role of Rosina.

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Birth of an Opera:
Danielle de Niese on The Barber of Seville
7.00pm, Sunday 18 December, BBC Four

Offering unparalleled insight into the process of staging an opera, the documentary follows Danni as she prepares to make her debut in the opera’s starring role of Rosina. It also features interviews with director Annabel Arden, conductor Enrique Mazzola, designer Joanna Parker and key Glyndebourne figures.

Il barbiere di Siviglia

Immediately afterwards, at 8.00pm, audiences can watch the opera in full, recorded live this summer.

Source: Glyndebourne

Late Night Jazz – Tara Minton — Royal Albert Hall

Exciting news for Melbourne born, Harpist, Tara Minton. Tara joined us in our recent Winter Prom at St John’s Smith Square, and has played us with many times over the past few years. Her versatility and quality of her performance is renowned, not only is she a talented classical harpist but she is quickly making a place for herself in the London jazz scene. Brava Tara from us all at the Tait Trust

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On the 6th of April, I will be celebrating the launch of my new album, “The Tides of Love” at THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL! The band and I are playing the famous Elgar Room late night jazz sessions and you’re all invited!!!

I have the ridiculous honour of being joined by:
Ed Babar – Bass
Tom Early – Drums
Duncan Menzies – Violin
Filippo Dall’Asta – Guitar
Phil Merriman – Keyboards
Lilia Ioncheva – Percussion
Tim Boniface – Horns
Serena Braida – Backing Vocals
Put it in the diary, tickets are on sale now! This is a massive celebration of an album I’m hugely proud of, but also of 6 years of muddling through and finding my way in London – and all the people who have helped me on the journey. I can’t wait to share this with you.
Tara x

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Tara Minton is a jazz harpist and vocalist from Melbourne, Australia. She is joined by an incredible band of musicians from the UK and Europe to present a new studio album, The Tides of Love. The work is based on a motif of ocean tides, with themes of love, loneliness, strength and hope woven throughout.Tara’s style mixes elements of jazz, folk and soul together, with a focus on storytelling through lyrics and music. She is often compared to Joni Mitchell and Ella Fitzgerald and draws inspiration from harpist Dorothy Ashby.Tara and her band regularly perform at festivals and jazz clubs, and run workshops in jazz harp and improvisation. Tara is also the only harpist to have performed on the iconic London Eye, and was chosen to honour the great Amy Winehouse at the unveiling of her statue in Camden Market.

Source: Late Night Jazz – Tara Minton — Royal Albert Hall