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!
To read Yelian’s complete article please click here
Yelian He and the Tait Memorial Trust
Yelian, a former Tait Awardee, was a featured artist at the 2014 Tait Winter Prom at St John’s Smiths Square. He played Sollima’s thrilling duet for two celli with fellow Tait Awardee, Adam Szabo. Conducted by Kelly Lovelady and accompanied by the strings of the Tait Chamber Orchestra it was a highlight of the evening.
We’re very happy to report that the harvest 2015 is in the cellars of our growers and best of all it seems the quality of the fruit and juice is outstanding. Soon we’ll be starting to assemble the new vintage and we are ecstatic that we should be able to produce something truly special for you. October is the start of the mellow season in Provence and the vineyards are producing a last fireworks of colours and other crops like Figs and Pomegranates are coming into season – this really is a great time to come down and visit if you get the chance!
Next concert with young Australian conductor, Toby Thatcher with his London group, Ensemble Eroica.
Toby was recently announced as the new assistant conductor with the Sydney Symphony.
September 24th 2015, 19:30
Ensemble Eroica Season Opener – Stone(s) from the Moon
Commenced in the autumn of 1822, Schubert’s enigmatic B minor symphony provides us with one of art’s great questions; intentional or not? And in either case, does it matter? The work is a glorious example of non-conformity, forcing its way into the symphony canon. To borrow eminent Austrian conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s quote (intended for Bruckner’s equally enigmatic Ninth Symphony), the work conjures mystery, fascination, and perplexity equal to that of suddenly stumbling across a ‘stone from the moon’.
In another enigmatic example of compositional intrigue, Johannes Brahms wrote of his second symphony that this was a work of such‘melancholy that you (his publisher) will not be able to bear it. I have never written anything so sad, and the score must come out in mourning’. It is not blasé to state that this opinion of the work is rarely shared by interpreters, the symphony seemingly borrowing more from Haydn and the classical form than from such romantic intentions.
London-based American Flautist Alyson Frazier is a multiple prizewinner and founding member of contemporary music group ensemble x.y. Garnering reviews as a ‘theatrical and compelling performer’ who is ‘impressively accomplished with a beautiful singing tone’. We are thrilled for this collaboration.
Brahms: Symphony No. 2 in D major Op. 73
– interval –
CPE Bach: Flute Concerto in D minor Wq. 22
Schubert: Symphony No. 8 in B minor D. 759 “Unfinished”
The 2014 Tait Winter Prom was a landmark event for the Tait Memorial Trust at St John’s Smith Square, proudly supported by Australia’s largest bank, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. To see and hear our talented Awardees performing at one of London’s most prestigious concert platforms was thrilling…truly a great night for the Trust and for our young Australians we support.
Now in our 23rd year Awards have increased by 30% from 2013 largely due to the more than three fold rise in Tait Friends subscriptions in 2014 and our loyal audience who come to our events and generously give towards our scholarship fund.
We are very grateful for the
support that we receive
from the following organisations:
Commonwealth Bank of Australia
The Australia Day Foundation
Bailey Nelson UK
The Britain-Australia Society
Oliveto & Olivo Ltd
Royal Over-Seas League
The Thornton Foundation
Treasury Wine Estates
2014 Tait Winter Prom at St John’s Smith Square
London Tuesday 9th December 2014
St John’s Smith Square,
Showcasing Australian Talent — An evening of Music and Ballet
Supported by Commonwealth Bank of Australia
Conducted by Kelly Lovelady
Tait Chamber Orchestra
Presented by former Miss Australia, Kimberley Busteed
Directed by Greg Eldridge
Jayson Gillham, Piano
Elena Xanthoudakis, Soprano
Xenia Deviatkina-Loh, Violin
Sophie Moffatt, Dancer
Calvin Richardson, Choreographer
Matthew Ball, Dancer
Marlena Devoe, Soprano
Chad Vindin, Piano
Adam Szabo, Cello
Yelian He, Cello
Nicola Crowe, Flute
Gerard Schneider, Tenor
Percy Grainger (1882-1961)
Handel in the Strand
Jayson Gillham, Piano
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Piano Concerto: No. 14 in E flat , K. 449
Jayson Gillham, Piano
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
The Lark Ascending
Xenia Deviatkina-Loh, Violin
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Ch’io mi scordi di te? Non temer, amato bene. K.505
Elena Xanthoudakis, Soprano
Jayson Gillham, Piano
Kenneth MacMillan 1 – choreography
Requiem, Pie Jesu solo
Sophie Moffatt, dancer 2
Coached by Leanne Benjamin OBE
Marlena Devoe, Soprano
Chad Vindin, Piano
The Carnival of the Animals
Calvin Richardson – choreography
The Dying Swan
Calvin Richardson, Dancer 3
Adam Szabo, Cello
Chad Vindin, Piano
Giovanni Sollima (1962- )
Yelian He & Adam Szabo, Cellos
Kevin Penkin (1992- )
Nicola Crowe, Flute
Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)
La Boheme, Act 1
Che gelida manina
Si, mi chiamano Mimi
O soave fanciulla
Marlena Devoe, Soprano
Gerard Schneider, Tenor 4
1 Performed with the kind permission from The MacMillan Estate
2 Appears with kind permission from The Royal Ballet School
3 Appears with kind permission from The Royal Ballet
4 Appears with kind permission from The National Opera Studio
Winter Prom highlights
Jayson Gillham playing Grainger’s, Handel in the Strand
Xenia Deviatkina-Loh playing Vaughan William’s, The Lark Ascending
Elena Xanthoudakis singing Mozart’s, Ch’io mi scordi di te? K 505 with Jayson Gillham, piano
Adam Szabo & Yelian He playing Sollima’s, Violoncelles Vibrez!
Marlena Devoe & Gerard Schneider sing the Final scene from Act 1, La boheme, Puccini
The Tait Trust are delighted to announce that John Frost AM has kindly agreed to be a new Patron of the Trust here in the UK and has also agreed to be Patron for the Tait Performing Arts Association in Australia. We are also thrilled to congratulate him on being awarded the AM (Member in the General Division) part of the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours Australia.
This has been a significant year for our new Patron as he was also awarded the coveted, JC Williamson Award from the Helpmann Awards. It is significant to us too as the Trust was created to memorialise the great work done by Sir Frank Tait and his four brothers when they ran The Firm/ J.C.Williamson’s Ltd. We are delighted to know that the name of this once great Australian firm has been immortalised in this wonderful award.
The article below is reprinted from the Helpmann Awards site
Live Performance Australia (LPA) has today announced that revered theatre producer John Frost has been named the 2014 JC WILLIAMSON AWARD™ recipient.
The JC WILLIAMSON AWARD™ is the foremost honour that the Australian live entertainment industry can bestow. The award recognises individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the Australian live entertainment and performing arts industry and shaped the future of our industry for the better. Past winners include such iconic figures as Dame Joan Sutherland OM AC DBE, Barry Humphries AO CBE, Michael Gudinski AM, John Farnham AO and Graeme Murphy AM to name but a few.
John Frost has produced some of Australia’s most successful musical theatre productions over the past 3 decades. From the early days of the Gordon Frost Organisation with Hello Dolly!, The Secret Garden, Cabaret and Crazy for You to blockbuster musicals of more recent times such as Wicked, The Sound Of Music, Annie, The Wizard of Oz, Grease The Arena Spectacular, Chicago, South Pacific and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, John Frost has nurtured and steered the careers of hundreds of cast and crew with his passion and imparting knowledge. This year alone sees him producing multiple shows around Australia including Grease, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Wicked – 10th Anniversary production, The King and I with Opera Australia, and Once with the Melbourne Theatre Company.
John commenced his impressive career at the age of 16 when he was employed as a dresser on the J.C. Williamson Ltd production of Mame. The dedicated teenager worked his way up within the theatre world to Wardrobe Master, Stage Manager, Company Manager and eventually Producer. Having produced countless successful Australian productions over the years John has also gained international respect having won 2 Tony Awards for the Broadway productions of Hairspray and The King and I and currently has 2 shows playing on London’s West End, The Bodyguard and Blithe Spirit. John’s Australian productions of The Producers,Wicked and Legally Blonde – The Musical won Helpmann Awards for Best Musical in 2005, 2009 and 2013 respectively.
“I am truly grateful to Live Performance Australia and the JC Williamson Award Committee for this incredible honour. Receiving the JC Williamson Award™ is the highest tribute that can be bestowed on someone working in the performing arts industry, and to be acknowledged by my peers for a job I love is gratifying and inspiring. I’m humbled to be in the company of Googie Withers and John McCallum, Kenn Brodziak, Clifford Hocking, Tony Gould and other past recipients of this prestigious award. Thank you.” said John.
John Frost will be honoured at an industry celebration hosted by LPA in association with Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) in Brisbane on Monday 19th May. The night will include special performances as well as a host of special guests paying tribute to the theatre impresario and his outstanding contribution to the live performance industry in Australia.
LPA President Andrew Kay said, “We are thrilled to announce John Frost as this year’s JC Williamson Award recipient. John joins the ranks of a group of individuals who in their own way, and in their own field, have made extraordinary contributions to shaping and changing the landscape of our dynamic live performance industry. John’s contribution to commercial musical theatre in Australia is internationally renowned and esteemed in this country. We are delighted to be able to formally recognise his contribution and achievements at a celebratory dinner in May and at the Helpmann Awards on 18 August.”
NSW Minister for Tourism, Major Events and Minister for the Arts, George Souris today congratulated Mr Frost on his prestigious award, which will be presented at the Helpmann Awards at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre in August. The Helpmanns, supported by the NSW Government, recognises those who have made an outstanding contribution to the performing arts industry.
“Over the past three decades, John Frost, who hails from Sydney has produced some of Australia’s most successful musical theatre productions, many of which have premiered right here in Sydney.” Mr Souris said.
“It has been a great joy to work with my friend John Frost during this exciting period of development for Opera Australia. John is the ultimate professional and his advice and knowledge of the music theatre business is not only highly perceptive but it is fuelled by a real passion for the theatre. He is also a wonderful human being whose generosity of spirit and his genuine love of the theatre is inspiring to everyone who has had the privilege of working with him. He has been (and still is) an extraordinarily strong advocate for Australian artists and I believe that there is no-one who is more deserving of this prestigious award than John Frost….and there is no-one who is a finer ambassador for our industry.” said Lyndon Terracini, Artistic Director Opera Australia.
QPAC Chief Executive Mr John Kotzas paid tribute to Mr Frost calling him one of the great legends of the stage in Australia. “I’ve worked with John for many years now and the professionalism and consistently high quality productions that John tours around Australia are remarkable. John is a well-respected and most welcome producer and guest at many venues around the country – I know QPAC staff are always eager to work with him and our audiences certainly show their support. Well done John!”
JC Williamson Award ™ presented by Live Performance Australia™ in association with Queensland Performing Arts Centre
Thrilled to be able to announce that 2013 Tait Awardee, Lauren Fagan has been offered a place in the Royal Opera House, Jette Parker Young Artists Programme to begin in September 2014. The news is even sweeter as two other young Australian singers have also been offered a place; Tenor, Sam Sakker and Baritone, Samuel Johnson. Congratulations to you all
The Young Performer of the Year for 2013 is Melbourne pianist Hoang Pham. The Tait Memorial Trust are delighted that Tait Awardees, Hoang and Stefan did so well in this prestigious competition. Congratulations to you both.
Stefan Cassomenos, Andrew Kawai and Hoang Pham all performed concertos in tonight’s grand final from the Melbourne Town Hall, accompanied by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
For the concerto round Hoang performed Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No 1.
“I love Tchaikovsky and throughout competition I chose music I love,” he said shortly after performing.
“It’s always a thrill to play in with a symphony orchestra, especially in your home town.”
Hoang says he suffers from “extreme nerves” before performing but he accepts that it’s part of the job.
“It’s gotten easier over the years but not that much easier,” he laughs.
In his acceptance speech Hoang recounted first entering YPA in 2004 and not making the first round. His teacher told him that “time tells the truth about each musician,” and so he persisted.
He also thanked his girlfriend, former YPA winner and member of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Ji Won Kim.
Pianist Stefan Cassomenos performed Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No 3.
“I feel very much at home playing concertos with orchestras,” he said after his performance.
“It’s really great music, the way it’s written for orchestra and piano,” says Stefan. “Not all concertos are like that,” he laughs, continuing to explain. “Some are written for piano as the central feature with the orchestra in the background.”
Terrific news to hear that former Tait Trust & YCAT Trust Awardee, HelenSherman has reached the finals of the Wigmore Hall International Song Competition which will be held on Tuesday 3 September at 6pm
Australian mezzo-soprano Helen Sherman studied at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music where she completed a Bachelor of Music and Post Graduate Diploma in opera. Following her success in the 2007 Australian Singing Competition she was awarded a scholarship to take up studies at the Royal Northern College of Music where she was the first student to receive the International Artists Diploma in opera. In 2011 she represented Australia at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition and in 2012 /13, Helen was awarded Australian Music Association prizes at the Royal Overseas League Music competition in London.
Of her recent performance as Aurelio for English Touring Opera’s L’Assedio di Calais, Richard Morrison of The Times wrote, ‘Donizetti’s fierce vocal demands are met fearlessly and thrillingly by the young Australian mezzo Helen Sherman, playing the volatile hero Aurelio. Her stridently masculine body language and formidable vocal power seem to epitomize the bloody-minded resistance of the besieged citizens.’ Recent engagements have included Dorabella (Cosi fan Tutte) for English Touring Opera at Fulham Palace, Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni) for Mid Wales Opera, Suzuki (Madama Butterfly) and Governess (The Queen of Spades) for Grange Park Opera. Operatic roles while at the RNCM included Hélène (Offenbach’s La Belle Hélène), Sesto (La Clemenza di Tito), Cyrus (Belshazzar), the latter in a co-production with Manchester Camerata, Varvava (Katya Kabanova), The Old Lady (Candide) and Prince Orlofsky (Die Fledermaus).
Over the last two years Helen’s concert appearances have included recitals at Wigmore Hall, Bridgewater Hall and City of London Festival, Performances at Cheltenham Festival including Janacek’s Diary of one who disappeared with Toby Spence and Britten’s Cabaret Songs with James Baillieu broadcast live on BBC Radio3, Handel’s Messiah at the Royal Albert Hall with Sir David Willcocks, a recital with Roger Vignoles for Cambridge Summer Festival, Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder with the Liverpool Mozart Orchestra and Peter Maxwell Davies’s Five Acts of Harry Patch with London Mozart Players at St John’s Smith Square. Helen has featured on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s ABC Classic FM and on British Broadcasting Corporation’s BBC Radio3, and recorded with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra. Helen is a Samling Scholar.
Furture engagements include Nicklausse (The Tales of Hoffmann), Nero (The Coronation of Poppea) and a recital with Malcolm Martineau and Sir Thomas Allen at Wigmore Hall for the Samling Foundation.
Helen is very grateful for the dedicated support of The Young Classical Artists Trust, The Royal Overseas League, The Wingate Trust, The Tait Memorial Trust, Independent Opera, The Australian Music Foundation, The Elizabeth Harwood Memorial Trust, The Dame Joan Sutherland Society, Ars Musica Australis, The Opera and Arts Support Group Sydney, The Ian Potter Cultural Trust and the Simon Fletcher Charitable Trust.
Reviews.. ‘The impetuous Aurelio is a trouser role sung by a mezzo-soprano; the similitude affected by Helen Sherman to a reckless young man was striking enough that on first glance one was unsure in the dimness of the stage whether it actually was a man stalking the English camp. What most impressed about her performance was not success in making the illusion of gender almost work, however, but the brilliant coloratura singing she brought to the role. Flitting easily over the spectrum of lower register to higher with never a pause, she brought the coruscating vocal fireworks which are so typically Donizetti and so superbly realised in L’assedio to the fore. When she returns safely to her family, her opening aria ‘Al mio core oggetti amati’ underscored a radiant tone directed smoothly and with precision, culminating in impressively sustained, floating high notes.’ Opera Britannia / English Touring Opera / L’Assedio di Calais / Hackney Empire / March 2013
There is one genuine revelation in this production. The good looking youth caught stealing bread from the enemy camp during the overture turned out, to my surprise, to be the mezzo Helen Sherman playing Aurelio. I’ve never seen a more convincing boy. And she can sing too. Her voice is warm, flexible and attractively rounded, and she sang assertively and evenly from top to bottom. I can easily imagine her in the sort of parts Joyce DiDonato specialises in – bel canto, Handel, Mozart – anything that needs stupendous technical command and real character.’ Intermezzo / English Touring Opera / L’Assedio di Calais / Hackney Empire / March 2013
‘Donizetti’s fierce vocal demands are met fearlessly and thrillingly by the young Australian mezzo Helen Sherman, playing the volatile hero Aurelio. Her stridently masculine body language and formidable vocal power seem to epitomise the bloody-minded resistance of the besieged citizens.’ Richard Morrison / The Times / English Touring Opera / L’Assedio di Calais / March 2013
‘Helen Sherman, who represented Australia at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition in 2011, was superb as Aurelio. Dressed in baggy clothes, she looked physically every inch a young man and her demeanour was at all times highly convincing even when being rather physical (such as climbing over the drain). But she also brought to the role a fine, rich mezzo-soprano voice which was nicely even across the (considerable) range and wonderfully flexible when it came to the fioritura. She sang the role with intelligence and bravura, using the fioritura musically and dramatically. I certainly hope that we shall hear more of her in this repertoire.’ Robert Hugill / A World of Classical Music / English Touring Opera / L’Assedio di Calais / Hackney Empire / March 2013
’The singer that made this a knock-out was Australian mezzo Helen Sherman as Aurelio. Before she started singing, her convincing mannerisms and body language made me think she was a man, and she gave a stunning portrayal of the role. The defiant aria in Act I, and in Act II the duet with his wife, the rejection of the enemy, and the farewell aria to his baby were riveting. Helen Sherman’s mezzo voice is world class, and a glance at her website shows she is singing a huge range of different roles — I look forward to hearing her again.’ Mark Ronan / Theatre Reviews / English Touring Opera/ L’Assedio di Calais / Hackney Empire / March 2013
‘There is only one man in Elvira’s life – Giovanni himself – and Helen Sherman tears herself apart as she depicts the conflicting emotions – rage, frustration, loyalty, devotion, vengefulness – which reach boiling point in this most complex of Mozartian characters.’ Seen and heard international / Mid Wales Opera / Don Giovanni / October 2012
‘The women shine brightest: Helen Sherman’s Elvira …stylishly sung.’ The Guardian / Rian Evans / Mid Wales Opera / Don Giovanni / September 2012
“My eyes lit up when I saw that Australian Helen Sherman had chosen to open with a song by Henri Duparc – Au pays où se fait la guerre .. It was impossible not to be caught up in the pathos and sadness of the situation which Helen Sherman communicated so sensitively. She then descended from her tower (figuratively) to Britten’s Cabaret Songs, his settings of words by Auden.. These are witty songs, not easy by any means, and Helen Sherman delivered them with a twinkle in her eye. She was well supported by accompanist James Baillieu who also had a twinkle in his fingers.” Seen and heard international / Cheltenham Festival / Philip Langridge Mentoring Scheme/ July 2012
“Finally, a Handel aria sung as it should be, with clean but not over-articulated coloratura, excellent phrasing, plenty of expression, and the ornamentation placed at the service of the music, rather than just used as a tool to show off a voice…Sherman picked up the gauntlet and flung it right down again for the remaining competitors with this exuberant and triumphant interpretation.” An Unamplified Voice / Cardiff Singer of the World / June 2011
“My favourite female performer of the evening, was the Australian mezzo Helen Sherman. To start with, she is so elegant.. She walked firmly onto the stage, stood there in perfect control of her expressions and gestures, and delivered three difficult pieces with no obvious sense of strain. An audience can feel safe in her hands.” Intermezzo / Cardiff Singer of the World / June 2011
“Fresh from Cardiff Singer Of The World Helen Sherman seduced the boy and the audience with her bewitching rich mezzo-soprano.” This is Gloucestershire / Cheltenham Festival / Diary of one who disappeared / July 2011
“Helen Sherman was utterly convincing in the part of the gypsy with her creamy mezzo-soprano voice and beguiling presence. The wistful song which followed, God all-powerful, God eternal.. was enough to melt any man’s heart.” Seen and heard international / Cheltenham Festival / Diary of one who disappeared / July 2011
“The college is fortunate to have two star mezzos for the trouser-roles of Sesto and Annio. The Australian Helen Sherman, fresh from her storming victory the previous week in the Elizabeth Harwood Memorial Prize, was a convincing Sesto, looking masculine and singing Parto, parto with lustrous tone…In their great scene together, Sesto and Tito raised the emotional temperature by several degrees.” Opera Magazine/ RNCM Opera / La Clemenza di Tito / April 2010
“Two performances were outstanding vocally and dramatically: the Australian Helen Sherman’s Helene could have come straight out of a Coward comedy and was sung with clear and flexible tone.” Opera Magazine / RNCM Opera / La Belle Hélène / February 2010
“As the vain, scheming, eponymous heroine, Helen Sherman was magnificent. Her confidence, acting ability, timing and a stupendous voice, made her the ideal lead in the production and should set up her for many major roles as her career develops.” Musical Opinion / RNCM Opera / La Belle Hélène / January 2010
“I would like to point to Helen Sherman’s performance in the title role as one of poise, sophistication, subtlety and splendour, in both the singing and the comedy.” Metro / RNCM Opera / La Belle Hélène December 2009
The founding Patrons of the Tait Memorial Trust were Viola, Lady Tait AM, Dame Joan Sutherland AC OM DBE, John McCallum AO CBE and Googie Withers AO CBE.
The Tait Memorial Trust was formed in 1992 by Isla Baring OAM, in memory of her father, Sir Frank Tait and his four brothers. The Tait brothers ran the biggest theatrical group in Australia; called J.C. Williamsons, often referred to as, “The Firm”.
They owned theatres in all states and theatres in New Zealand,, their base of operations was Her Majesty’s ( or His Majesty’s for a period ) in Melbourne,. They employed local artists and international artists such as Pavlova, Chaliapin, Melba, Danny Kaye, Gracie Fields, Laurence Olivier, Sybil Thorndike, Margot Fonteyn, Vivien Leigh, Percy Grainger and many more.
They maintained offices in London and New York to ensure that they could book the best talent to come to Australia, JC Williamson’s famously acquired the Australian performing rights from the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company for all of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas.
Dame Nellie Melba, Soprano
They put on most American musicals from Annie get your Gun to My Fair Lady. Sir Frank’s last enterprise, the crowning glory of his long career was the Sutherland-Williamson Opera Company in 1965. A company formed the previous year with no subsidy and brought opera to Australia, on tour. A true laurel in the crown of JC Williamson’s and Sir Frank Tait.
Viola, Lady Tait, the widow of Sir Frank Tait, wrote, ‘A Family of Brothers’, a wonderful book and vivid account of the growth of the Tait brothers theatre business culminating in the golden days of JC Williamson’s Theatre Company and the Sutherland-Williamson Co. of 1965. Viola, Lady Tait’s zest for life was inspirational. She was a champion of new and emerging talent, adjudicating numerous scholarships and awards both in Australia and overseas. As an adjudicator for The Shell-Mobil Quest in 1950, Viola Tait was famously instrumental in launching Joan Sutherland’s career.
Lady McKell and Viola Tait at opening of the ballet, ca. 1950 Part of Lady Viola Tait collection 1850-1976. National Library of Australia Archive
It became Sir Frank’s ambition to present Joan Sutherland to the Australian public after her international acclaim. The Sutherland Williamson Grand Opera Company opened in Melbourne in 1965 heralding her triumphant return to her homeland. It was a season never to be forgotten. Joan Sutherland sang some of the best performances of her career while on this tour. She performed in five of the eight operas along with the young Pavarotti.
In Richard Bonynge’s words:
“Sir Frank Tait has done the greatest service to Australian Theatre and to the arts of anyone we know.”
Xenia is a 2013 Tait Memorial Trust Awardee, She is due to begin a Masters degree in Violin at the Royal Academy of Music. The Trust are delighted to be supporting Xenia and wish her the very best for the 2013/2014 academic year.
Xenia Deviatkina-Loh studies violin with Alice Waten. She has performed with the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra, the South Melbourne Orchestra, the Kuringai Philharmonic Orchestra, the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, the Canberra Symphony Orchestra and the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra. She has also performed in Beleura House and Gardens, Melba Festival – Yarra Grange and Federation Square – Exhibition Centre. She’s been aired live on 3MBsFM, ABC radio, and Radio New Zealand. Xenia was the Junior Finalist and the Senior Winner of the Kuringai Philharmonic Concerto Competition in 2005 and 2008 respectively. She was the 2009 String Finalist of ABC Young Performer’s Award, and the 2009 winner of the Gisborne International Music Competition.
Xenia has had masterclasses and private lessons with The Brentano String Quartet, Trio Dali, Tasmin Little, Lina Bahn, Oleh Krysa, Charles Castleman, Kolja Blacher, Julian Rachlin, Zakhar Bron, Boris Kuschnir, Felix Andrievsky and Edward Dusinberre (Takács Quartet). She gained a full tuition scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music London. She will start her Masters degree in London later this year.
Xenia’s award from the Trust and her participation in the London Masterclasses is kindly supported by the Thornton Foundation