Canberra region spoilt for choice in music


The Griffyn Ensemble

WHEN it comes to orchestral music, from the grandest symphony to the most intimate chamber ensemble, Canberra and its extended region are spoilt for choice.

As so often in the arts, behind each subscription-based program for 2014 is a strong individualist artistic director.

Take the Griffyn Ensemble, the strangely-spelt group led by the dynamic Michael Sollis and made up largely of ANU School of Music graduates who’ve been taking music-lovers into places as diverse as an airport hangar and the ruins of Mt. Stromlo for its recitals.

2014 will see more of the same from the Griffyns as they venture into “a season of four spooky stories and twisted tales.”

With collaboration on their minds, they’ve engaged visual artist Annika Romeyn, choreographer Liz Lea, pop-duo The Cashews, and author Katie Taylor to help concoct stories of new worlds in “Griffyn Fairy Tales”.

It helps that Taylor, one of the most successful writers to come out of Canberra, writes hugely popular novels about those mysterious creatures, Griffins, as in “The Griffin’s War” and “The Griffin’s Flight,” a point not lost on Sollis.

The music tales will be: “The Lost Mapmaker” at the National Library of Australia on February 21-22; “The Three Futurists” with Liz Lea, Belconnen Arts Centre, August 23-24; “House On Fire” with Canberra pop-duo The Cashews, at the National Gallery of Australia, October 11-12; and “The Shearer that could have Been”, penned by Taylor, at Yarralumla Woolshed on December 12 and 13.

2014 Season: “Griffyn Fairy Tales” details at, or visit to become a 2014 member.

Nicholas Milton

Nicholas Milton

ONE OF the greatest enthusiasts on our musical scene is conductor of the CSO, Nicholas Milton, who is staying on with the orchestra until the end of the 2016 season.

Comfortable conducting at the famous Volksoper, but equally keen, he told Citynews earlier in the year “to develop something at home…Canberra gives the possibility that I do something for my country.”

Milton has planned works by Mahler, Richard Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Liszt, and Beethoven that he says are sure to garner growing audiences for the orchestra of which he says he is very proud.

With newish chairman of the board, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston enticed onto the board of the CSO by the late Chris Peters, Milton figures he has the support he needs.

The 2014 Shell Prom Concert, “Triumph” will open the season in the grounds of Government House, featuring favorites from Ravel, Debussy, Saint-Saëns, Offenbach and more, with Timothy Sexton holding the baton.

The first concert of the Llewellyn concert series, “Prélude,” conducted by Tom Woods, will open with Mussorsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain” before the CSO’s concertmaster, Barbara Jane Gilby, performs Mozart’s “Turkish” violin concerto. The concert will also feature the Canberra premiere of Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin’s “Re-Collecting ASTORoids” and Liszt’s “Les Préludes,” part of Milton’s commitment to perform Australian made works.

Pianist Clemens Leske will perform Beethoven’s “Fourth Piano Concerto” for the second concert of the Llewellyn series, and the evening will conclude with “Mahler’s Symphony No. 1”.

In July the ACTEW Grand Gala, “Verdi” will feature two of Australia’s favourite opera stars, Antoinette Halloran and Argentine born José Carbó, and the Canberra Choral Society.

August sees the third instalment of the Llewellyn Series, “Firebird,” in which the featured soloist, David Elton returns for the virtuosic “Trumpet Concerto” by Richard Mills. The evening also features Stravinsky’s “Firebird” before concluding with Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.

During Floriade, the CSO will combine with the RMC Band to present a Saturday family matinee, “Hollywood!” featuring music from Hollywood favourites like “Star Wars”, “Superman”, and “Gladiator.”

CSO Prom concert bookings to or 6275 2700.

CSO 2014 Season, bookings to or 1300 795 012.

FOUNDER and director of Selby& Friends, virtuoso pianist Kathryn Selby, views the 2014 program (her eighth season) as “a year-long festival celebrating the best of chamber music and musicians.” Performed as always, by popular demand, in the NGA’s James O Fairfax Theatre, it will see Australian musicians joined by artists from Sweden, Finland, Britain, Germany and the USA.

Paul Kildea

Paul Kildea

World premières of works by Paul Dean and Clancy Newman will be performed alongside favorites by Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, Tchaikovsky and Debussy.

Guest artists include European-Australian violinists Natalie Chee and Daniel Dodds, New York-based Aussies Susie Park on violin and Clancy Newman on cello, former Canberra cellist Julian Smiles, and in a cello triple-whammy, Swedish cellist Torleif Thedéen.

Two young Australian musicians, Som Howie (Tour 1, clarinet) and Hugh Klüger (Tour 5, double bass), will perform under the company’s Development Artists Program.

2014 will be notable for an emphasis on Beethoven’s chamber music, as much of the 2014 Selby & Friends season will be recorded by ABC Classic FM.

Tours for 2014 are in March, May, June, September and November.

Bookings to or 1300 511 099. Children 14 and under free. 

NOT far away in Bermagui, planners are gearing up for the first Four Winds Festival to be directed by Paul Kildea, the Canberra-trained musician and director who has become one of the world’s leading experts on Benjamin Britten.

Held over four days in April, This biennial festival is staged in one of the world’s unique concert venues, “Nature’s Concert Hall”. Philip Cox’s sculptured Sound Shell will this time be joined by “The Windsong Pavilion”, named in honour of festival founder Neilma Gantner. Merimbula architect Clinton Murray’s creation on the hill can house full orchestra or 160 people can sit inside, we are told.

Kildea headlines the festival with four spectacular artists from all corners of the globe, Richard Tognetti from Australia, Giovanni Sollima from Italy, Dejan Lazic from Croatia and Zen Hu from China.

“There is something wonderful about friends playing together in an informal setting. For my first Four Winds festival I wanted to see if it were possible to run with this idea on a bigger stage,” he says. To this end Kildea will feature composer Kate Neal, Shellie Morris and the poet Herb Wharton and Michelle Nicolle and players from the Australian National Academy of Music.

Margaret Throsby of ABC Classic FM with converse with artists in “Eavesdropping” on the Friday in the Bermagui Community Hall.

Paul McDermott joins to the festival with a series of animated films related to his installation, ‘In the Dark Garden’, seen this year at M16 in Canberra, in collaboration with the Auric Quartet.

Bermagui artists Kate Brown and Melanie Horsnell join the Michelle Nicolle Quartet for a free community concert in the idyllic setting of the Bermagui Fisherman’s Wharf on the on Friday evening.

The 2014 Four Winds Festival, April 17-20 at Bermagui, NSW, bookings to



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