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April Showers With Classical Stars

I’m excited! I’ll start with that. For no other reason than during April, Riverside is going to be filled with classical stars at the top of their game performing incredible works of music. It’s also going to be bursting with the stars of tomorrow, undiscovered unknowns who are on the brink of shaking up the classical music world. And the chance to see them, to hear them all in one month is almost too much! The stages of Riverside will be flooded with the sounds of pianos, voices, flutes, violins and all the other instruments that make up an orchestra – and all of these being performed at their absolute best!

Classical music does something that I don’t think pop music can – it stirs a different set of emotions deep inside your soul; it connects and activates the irrational, the abstract – it takes you to an emotional cliff top and gently pushes you off, if you let it. A plethora of feelings stream through your body and your mind, your imagination is set free and if you really let yourself go the music consumes you entirely so that by the end of a concert you have travelled to the ends of the universe and back. Classical music reminds us that we’re alive yet mortal, that anything is possible, and transports us from the day-to-day to a place that we can’t always describe, only feel.

I am the first to admit I’m not grabbed by every piece of classical music that is performed at a concert, but I’m rarely taken by every track on a pop album by say Madonna or Lady Antebellum or U2. Or on a radio station. And that’s ok. The joy of classical music concerts is that often a theme runs through them and/or a selection of different composers or styles are featured so there will be something there you’ll connect with. For example, when Sydney Symphony Orchestra Fellows perform on Sunday April 3 their theme is The Voices of Bohemia – a grouping of composers Biber, Dvořák, Salonen, Janáček and Martinů. I haven’t heard of most of them I confess, but then again I often know songs on the radio (and I’ll sing along using the wrong words half the time) and I’ll have no idea who wrote them or who is performing them. My point is it doesn’t matter. The discovery of new sounds, new music, new emotions is part of the fun! The SSO Fellows are a group of young top musicians who are making their professional debut, who have been selected from all around the country and brought together for a year to play in different combinations, push themselves to even better standards, and play with the full symphony orchestra at times before heading off in different directions around the world hunting for the next steps in their burgeoning careers. To see them now is both exciting and special – some of these players may become superstars in the future.

1Classical music is great to listen to sure, but what I also enjoy is the watching. The interaction between the musicians, the glances, the facial expressions, the dripping of sweat at times. There is so much theatre in music! At the end of a performance some musicians look more like they’ve just been at the gym working out and not in an air-conditioned black box theatre or concert hall. When Elena Kats-Chernin and Tamara-Anna Cislowska come to Riverside on Sunday April 10 with their concert Butterflying, the “theatre” will be the thing for me. These incredible performers both perform on the same piano, at the same time. Elena is a hugely successful Australian composer and pianist with international success. Very well-respected and in-demand I know that getting her to perform at Riverside has been a two or three year plan in the making. Tamara has been a long term collaborator with Elena but has an international, multi-award winning career of her own. She has been given five star reviews for her performances and her albums and described as “Australia piano gold”. Not only will these two perform many of Elena’s compositions but they will have passages of improvisation – electric moments where audiences won’t draw breathe or blink for risk of missing something. It can be “edge of your seat” stuff as well as incredibly beautiful all at the same time. And I cannot wait!

On Friday April 15 Teddy Tahu Rhodes (you might have seen him in South Pacific, The King and I, Tosca or numerous other operas from Opera Australia) and Jane Rutter (a name I’ve known for decades as the Australian queen of the flute) perform together in Classical Heroes and the Art of Seduction. Their program is of more well-known composers and musical works. For example they will perform works by Handel, Mozart (specifically The Magic Flute) and Schubert. These two bring an element of fun and a bit of pizazz to their concert. They’ll also perform works by Rodgers & Hammerstein, Tosti and Cole Porter – favourites of many concert goers. What I really like about this concert is that it will be enjoyable for everyone in the family – kids through to nannas. Sharing the experience of classical music is also a wonderful thing with lots of conversations flowing on after the musicians have taken their bows.

If you’ve never been to a classical music concert before, give it a go. Let yourself out of your safe zone, your routine and go on an adventure. I promise you’ll have fun, you’ll discover something new about yourself, and how music, whatever the genre, can be an exciting part of life. Let classical music shower you with its power this April.


Sydney Symphony Orchestra Fellows
Sunday 3 April at 3pm
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Elena Kats-Chernin & Tamara-Anna Cislowska
Sunday 10 April at 3pm
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Teddy Tahu Rhodes & Jane Rutter
Friday 15 April at 8pm
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Australian Youth Orchestra
Saturday 16 April at 7pm
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Blog by Jonathan Llewellyn
Jonathan is passionate about the performing arts and Western Sydney. He is an active community member, arts patron and a cultural producer. He is currently the Marketing & Communications Manager for Riverside Theatres.

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