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.

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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

Professional Ballet Dancer to Business Owner | Claudia Dean Coaches For Success | Ballet News

Former Tait Awardee Claudia Dean graduated from The Royal Ballet School in August 2011, having moved to London aged 16 to train at the Upper School in Covent Garden. She was the recipient of the Tait Memorial Trust, Dance Arches Award in 2011, and went on to be offered a contract by The Royal Ballet. In 2014 Claudia made the difficult decision to return home to Australia, we are delighted to see that this very talented young dancer is passing the baton to the next generation of aspiring dancers in her homeland. We wish her all the very best and look forward to hearing more about her work in Australia.

The article below was published by Ballet News, May 2015.

Claudia Dean | Ballet Dancer to Business Owner

Sprezzatura is the Italian word for nonchalance; the effortless art of making something difficult look easy. The sustained hard work needed to conceal the effort has been a hallmark of Claudia Dean’s training and professional ballet career.

Claudia Dean graduated from The Royal Ballet School in August 2011, having moved to London aged 16 to train at the Upper School in Covent Garden. In her native Australia she had been dancing since the age of four, and had won a number of prestigious competitions including the Gold Medal plus the Audience Choice Award at the Genée International Ballet Competition in 2009.

I interviewed Dean for my Student to Star series at the time of her graduation, a few weeks before she started work in the Company, and I asked her what she anticipated the differences might be between school and company life. She told me, “I think it’s going to be a bit of a change for me. I will be my own person having to be responsible for myself.  At school, you have teachers guiding you, although we work for ourselves, there is still a lot of extra support. Also, no uniform! I will have to decide what to wear each day which will be very different !”

—–READ MORE—–

Source: Professional Ballet Dancer to Business Owner | Claudia Dean Coaches For Success | Ballet News | Straight from the stage – bringing you ballet insights

Miranda Keys' debut at The Royal Opera House

 

 

Australian dramatic soprano and former Tait Awardee, Miranda Keys, is to make her Royal Opera House debut in the 2016/17 Season as Marianne and Noble Widow (Der Rosenkavalier) with the American diva, Renee Fleming, singing the Marschallin.

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Miranda came to international attention in 2007 when she was a finalist in the Cardiff Singer of the World. She has gone on to sing at Glyndebourne, Aix en Provence Festival under Sir Simon Rattle and Sir Mark Elder with the Halle Orchestra.

 

Miranda Keys

Australian soprano Miranda Keys studied for her music degree at the Guildhall School Of Music in London. She completed the opera course at the Royal College of Music where she held the President Emerita Scholarship, the most prestigious scholarship the college can confer. She completed her studies at the National Opera Studio. She won the 2006 Wagner Society Bayreuth Bursary and the 2005 John Scott Award from Scottish Opera and was a main prize and song prize finalist in the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World in 2007. Operatic roles include ELISABETH (Trieste and Bologna), ARIADNE (Salzburg Landestheater and Leipzig Oper), ODABELLA (Lyric Opera Dublin), MUSETTA (Glyndebourne on Tour), LADY BILLOWS (Glyndebourne Touring Opera and Salzburg Landestheater), ELETTRA (Glyndebourne on Tour), WITCH/MOTHER (Scottish Opera on Tour).

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Other roles include COUNTESS, FIORDILIGI, MISS WINGRAVE, MISS JESSEL, FEMALE CHORUS and MADAME LIDOINE. She has sung 3rd NORN in Götterdämmerung under Sir Simon Rattle (in Aix and Salzburg), Sir Mark Elder (for the Halle orchestra, recorded on the Halle label), Ed Spanjaard (Reisopera), and Donald Runnicles (BBC Proms). GERHILDE in Die Walküre for the Halle conducted by Sir Mark Elder and released on the Halle label (Manchester International Festival), AUFSEHERIN in Elektra (Rome and Bari), �FIDELIO conducted by Gianandrea Noseda (Turin). Recent highlights include AUFSEHERIN at Opera National de Paris conducted by Philippe Jordan, and at the BBC Proms conducted by Semyon Bychkov, MARIANNE LEITMETZERIN at Glyndebourne Festival Opera and the BBC Proms conducted by Robin Ticciati and MISS JESSEL for Glyndebourne on Tour, LADY BILLOWS in Albert Herring (cond. Oksana Lyniv) and MARIANNE DI LEITMETZERIN in Der Rosenkavalier (cond. Kirill Petrenko) for Bayerische Staatsoper. Future highlights include her debut at The Royal Opera, London in Der Rosenkavalier (cond. Andris Nelsons) and a return to the Bayerische Staatsoper.

 

 

 

Miranda Keys website

Book for Rosenkavalier

Behind The Ring: Part Two – Die Walküre — Re:hearsal Magazine

Part two of young Australian opera director’s, Greg Eldridge’s, article about assisting Neil Armfield on Wagner’s, Ring Cycle for Opera Australia.

Stepping behind the curtain of Opera Australia’s Ring Cycle. 

 Auf der Erde Rücken wuchtet der Riesen Geschlecht
On the Earth’s surface dwells the race of Giants
– Wotan, Act 1 – Siegfried

The first time working for any company is a bit intimidating – make sure you get signed in, get a pass, meet a thousand people and try to remember exactly who does what. I’ve arrived in Sydney for the first month (!) of rehearsals, which will take place in The Opera Centre studios in Surry Hills. In London, I’m used to everything taking place in the flash of an eye (a week for a revival of Tosca, 10 days to get together a Traviata, perhaps 3 weeks for a new production of Così) so I’m looking forward to a process that will span 6 weeks in rehearsal studios, then a further 6 weeks on stage before opening night.

To read the full article please click here to go to Rehearsal Magazine

Source: Behind The Ring: Part Two – Die Walküre — Re:hearsal Magazine

TAIT WINTER PROM 2016 – We return to St John's Smith Square

The Tait Memorial Trust 5th Annual Winter Prom.

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Jessica Cottis, Conductor: Colin Hattersley, Photography 

Tait Winter Prom – Memories of Summer

The Tait Memorial Trust returns to St John’s Smith Square on Wednesday 30th November for their 5th annual Winter Prom. Now in its 24th year, the Trust supports young Australian performing artists who come to the UK to complete their advanced studies in music, dance and composition.

We are delighted to confirm that the Australian High Commissioner, His Excellency, The Hon. Alexander Downer AC and his wife Mrs Nicola Downer AM, have kindly agreed to be our Guests of Honour. They have been such loyal supporters of the Tait Trust, and we look forward to welcoming them on the night.

We are thrilled that Jessica Cottis has agreed to conduct and musically direct the Tait Chamber Orchestra, of young Australian musicians, and has selected the programme to showcase our award winners but also to acknowledge the tyranny of distance and the longing many of us feel for the wide open spaces of Australia.

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Proudly supported by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia we invite you to join us as we explore our memories of Summer.

St John’s Smith Square, London SW1P 3HA

Wed 30 November – 7.30pm

£35, £28, £22, £15

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Memories of Summer

Tait Chamber Orchestra
Lisa Bucknell VIOLA
James Guan PIANO
Alexandra Hutton SOPRANO
Alexandra Isted VIOLIN
Katrina Sheppeard SOPRANO
Ashlyn Skye Tymms MEZZO SOPRANO
Chad Vindin PIANO
Jessica Cottis CONDUCTOR
Mozart
Sinfonia Concertante
for Violin, Viola and Orchestra K364
Wagner
Prelude and ‘Vorspiel and Liebestod’
from Tristan und Isolde
arr. by James Ledger
for Chamber Orchestra
(UK premiere)
Luke Styles
How they Creep
Bernstein
Glitter and be Gay
Barber
Must the winter come so soon
Williamson 
Piano Concerto No. 2
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Tait Chamber Orchestra, Tait Winter Prom 2014, St John’s Smith Square

Herald Sun Aria winner Panayiota Kalatzis sweeps all before her | Herald Sun

We are thrilled to report that Tait Awardee, Panayiota Kalatzis, won the coveted 2016 Herald Sun Aria in Melbourne’s, Hamer Hall a few days ago. Panayiota was the 2014 recipient of the Australian International Opera Awards which gave her the funds to study at the Wales International Academy of Voice with Dennis O’Neill.

Herald Sun Aria winner Panayiota Kalatzis. Photo: Stuart Walmsley

SCINTILLATING soprano Panayiota Kalatzis swept all before her last night to win the 2016 Herald Sun Aria.The 30-year-old Brisbane vocalist, trailing an elegant train, won the coveted prize in its 92nd year ahead of four other outstanding classical singers.“I never thought it would happen,’’ she said after accepting the prestigious award from Herald Sun editor Damon Johnston. “You work hard and enter competitions and then someone, ‘Yes’. Winning this changes everything.’’Kalatzis, of Greek background, captivated a 1500-strong audience at Hamer Hall with thrilling performances of Massenet and Verdi. A huge ovation greeted her win which carries $15,000 cash and a $22,500 scholarship for overseas tuition.“The plan is to go back to the UK, make some connections there, and then go to America,’’ she said. “Winning this makes all that possible.’’Jessica Harper, a 26-year-old soprano from Sydney, was runner up while the encouragement award went to Douglas Kelly, a Victorian-based tenor.Judges Richard Mills, Margaret Haggart and John Bolton-Wood praised the high standard of competition and Penny Fowler, Chairman of the Herald and Weekly Times, paid special tribute to Richard Divall — the Aria’s long serving maestro and chief adjudicator.

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Source: Herald Sun Aria winner Panayiota Kalatzis sweeps all before her | Herald Sun

Elena Xanthoudakis to take on the Queen

The Australian soprano reflects on the challenges of singing Donizetti’s tragic Anna Bolena.

Elena Xanthoudakis as Anna Bolena for Melbourne Opera
Elena Xanthoudakis as Anna Bolena

While Anna Bolena is definitely on the larger end of the bel canto roles, it still requires great flexibility, as well as heft and drama where required. It is a great thrill to sing and while it is perhaps ‘heavier’ than some other bel canto roles – mostly due to the intense dramatic situation Anna finds herself in – one must remember to maintain a lilt and ease so that the voice remains flexible. There are also a number of lower notes: the bottom register is well applied by Donizetti to add drama and colour, and I absolutely love using a wide range of colours to characterise her journey. The challenges of the role lie in matching the tessitura and the weight or volume.

Sally Anne-Russell, Jane Seymour & Elena Xanthoudakis, Anna Bolena
Sally Anne-Russell, Jane Seymour & Elena Xanthoudakis, Anna Bolena

There are also a number of added cadenzas and high notes, so finding the balance between the elements is crucial. Anna is extremely fun to sing, as well as technically challenging – but again therein lies the fun too! Donizetti’s Anna Bolena departs from the historical details in a number of ways, done for dramatic licence. However, there is much that corresponds with the historical Anne Boleyn’s journey. In my opinion, her trial itself was a complete set-up, and the nature of it is made very clear in the opera.As for Anna’s mad scene, I would say it is less ‘mad’ than many! She begins the mad scene in a state of delusion, drifting in and out of awareness of her real situation. It begins in some respects like the Lucia di Lammermoor mad scene, in both concept – Anna is imagining a wedding – and orchestral colour. However, it soon shifts to much more dramatic colours and intense melodic shapes. It is perhaps less florid than roles like Elvira or Lucia, but is no less impressive. The role of Anna Bolena has been performed by a great number of sopranos, including Callas, Sutherland, and Netrebko. In an ideal world we would all love the dramatic intensity of La Callas, as well as the beauty of tone and flexibility of La Stupenda. Of the other major exponents of the role, I admire Beverly Sills for her recordings, which are extremely ornamented – perhaps too much? I would like to be at least as inventive where required. And though no recordings of Giuditta Pasta exist, one would hope to have a voice as strong and flexible as hers at the top, with the same depth and colour in the middle and bottom. Pasta, the original Anna, was a mezzo-like soprano, who was both the first Norma and Amina, the latter of which is substantially lighter and requires more limpid flexibility. Given the original Anna’s voice, and contemporary audience expectation for extemporised top notes, balance and care must be taken in order to maintain ease at both ends of the registers, to give the widest range of possible colour. Knowing the repertoire of Donizetti’s Tudor Queens, it would be a joy to one day have the opportunity to sing Queen Elizabeth in Roberto Devereux.

Elena’s performance of Mozart’s, Ch’io mi scordi di te? K 505, with Jayson Gillham and the Tait Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Kelly Lovelady, at the 2014 Tait Winter Prom at St John’s Smith Square.

Elena Xanthoudakis appears in the Australian premiere of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena for Melbourne Opera November 2, 5 and 9. Buy tickets here

Melbourne Opera stages the Australian premiere of Roberto Deveraux in 2017.

Win an A-Reserve double pass to opening night

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Following the sold out triumph of Maria Stuarda last year, Melbourne Opera continues the great Donizetti trilogy bringing the bel canto masterpiece Anna Bolena to The Athenaeum for the first time this November.

Starring Elena Xanthoudakis (Anne Boleyn), Sally-Anne Russell (Jane Seymour), Eddie Muliaumaseali’i (Henry VIII), Boyd Owen (Richard Percy), Dimity Shepherd (Mark Smeaton) and Phillip Calcagno (Lord Rochefort).

Source: Elena Xanthoudakis to take on the Queen from Limelight Magazine

Sally Law, violin – Tait Scholar 2016

We are delighted to announce that, Sally Law, a young violinist from Queensland, has been selected as the 2016 Tait Scholar at the Royal College of Music. The Tait Scholar Award is funded by the family of Julian Baring, and is one of our flagship scholarships for young Australians.

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The adopt a performer scheme allows a donor to directly support a young Australian performer for a three year commitment. Please click here to learn how to actively involve yourself in the career development of a young performer.

Sally is playing in the Tait Chamber Orchestra in our Tait Winter Prom on the 30th November at St John’s Smith Square, conducted by Jessica Cottis. More information here

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Sally Law, Tait Scholar

SALLY LAW

Violinist Sally Law is currently a Tait Trust Scholar supported by a Big Give Award at the Royal College of Music, studying violin with Jan Repko. She began playing violin at the age of eight in Brisbane, Australia. In 2015, Sally held a solo performance for HRH Princess Alexandra at Queen Alexandra House.  Over this past summer, Sally played in the Macao Orchestra for their 2016-2017 opening concert; the Roman River Music Festival with her clarinet trio; as well as the 24-hour music marathon at St John’s Smith Square, London. Sally also recently performed in masterclasses with Alexander Markov and Professor Alexander Bonduryansky.

Sally has won prizes in numerous competitions, including First Prize in the Queensland Young Instrumentalist Competition in 2012, resulting in her debut as soloist with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. She also received First Prize in the Strings Open Somerville House Solo Instrumental and Vocal Competition in 2011, and the Australia National Youth Concerto Competition Recitalist Award consecutively 2010-2012, amongst others.

Following her debut as soloist with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Sally has performed solo recitals in the UK and Australia, including St Mary Abbots Church and the Claremont Centre in London, and the Brisbane Museum Concert Hall and Somerville House Valmai Pidgeon Performing Arts Centre in Brisbane. In 2013 Sally performed in a showcase performance, raising funds for the Queensland Flood Relief at the Brisbane Albert St Uniting Church.

Sally works regularly as a chamber musician, and has formed the Mellanie Trio with musicians at the Royal College of Music. The trio have received coaching from Alina Ibragimova and Trio Apaches. Recent engagements include a performance at the Austrian Cultural Forum. Mellanie Trio have also performed recitals at St Botolph Without Aldgate Church, the RCM Parry Rooms, RCM Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall, Austrian Cultural Forum, St James’ Church Piccadilly, and St Paul’s Church Covent Garden. She was also part of a string trio of Australian musicians who performed at numerous events including representing Australia in the Delegates Lounge of the International Maritime Organisation.

Sally performs as an orchestral musician, leading orchestras such as the RCM Chamber Orchestra, and orchestras of the Brisbane Grammar Senior String Festival 2008-2012, and Somerville House Choral Festival 2008 – 2012. She was also first violinist with the Queensland Youth Symphony in 2009 and the Australian Youth Orchestra in 2011, and has performed in venues including St Paul’s Cathedral, St James’s Church Piccadilly, Sydney Opera House and Sydney Town Hall.

Aside from performing, Sally is passionate about creating cross-art productions and artistic workshops. In 2015, she directed her first exhibition at the Royal College of Music in collaboration with a dancer, animation artist and other musicians, as part of the Great Exhibitionists Series, Butterfly Lovers – Unite Through Dimensions.  Albeit not professional, Sally is also an avid videographer and enjoys uploading films onto her YouTube channel ‘Musicado FM’.

Sally Law’s website

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Yelian He plays cello concerto with the Sydney Symphony

2015 is a pretty special year for me. It’s the first year I’ve spent experiencing the 30’s, the first time my cello was swabbed and searched instead of me in an airport, and it’s the first time I’ve performed a concerto without a conductor – and with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra to boot.

 

 

Speaking of, I must mention that all of these fantastic experiences happened during the month of May as a result of winning the inaugural Australian Cello Awards Grand Prize in 2014 (ACA Website, next competition in 2017). That was a highlight not soon forgotten in itself and I’m sure I’ll be hearing even greater things from CEO Roland Gridiger and his team at MOST. But as I was trying to say, my excitement grew endlessly (so too did practice) as my debut with the Sydney Symphony drew nearer.

On the way to my first rehearsal, I was nervous about what to expect. There have been times in the past where the concerts haven’t lived up to expectations owing to insufficient rehearsal time or difficulties in communication. When I arrived I was greeted by the Concertmaster Andrew Haveron before meeting the Orchestra for some one-on-one time with the Bach Concerto; this is when general & interpretational decisions are brought up so there are fewer surprises during rehearsal. It was clear from the start Andrew was confident and accommodating – vital qualities for a good musician, and a good human being.

 

 

A Concerto without a conductor is a trust building exercise, and it’s easy to lose your nerve or get too excited. There’s bound to be more communication between the musicians, leading to more ideas being aired, but you also better know the score intimately! Not only will there be questions from the orchestra, knowing how the 1st violins bow a particular sequence of quavers or how the cellos phrase another section makes all the difference in rehearsals and performances, all the while giving a brilliant unique interpretation of the work.

It’s not difficult when you play with a wonderful orchestra, to get carried away in the passion of a running passage and/or to indulge the slow movement so much everyone else thinks it’s like watching paint dry; it’s happened many times during my earlier years and I’m embarrassed to say that wasn’t too long ago, which is why I advocate discipline and self-control! Having said that, it doesn’t mean I’m to be lifeless on stage when not playing anything either. Here’s me and the SSO taking a couple of minutes off after the rehearsals to shred the piece we just spent hours rehearsing. (It’s definitely the SSO’s good nature that I’m allowed to get away with this…but what can I say? Music’s got to be enjoyed by the ones playing and the ones listening!

 

About two weeks prior the SSO’s website had listed the concert as SOLD OUT which meant the only chance of securing a ticket was to wait and chance it at the returns desk. As a performer the adoration of your audience is key! Don’t believe me? Try playing for a hall half-empty (or half-full depending on your philosophical bend) and tell me you don’t wish you’d have given more love and attention to them more often; for a concert organizer that’s also a great reason not to see you again any time soon. I’m sure both the Australian Cello Awards and the Sydney Symphony have worked very hard to push this concert to the public, and if anybody else was involved, I thank you sincerely for making all of this a fantastically memorable event!