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The Two of Us: Simon Tedeschi and Roger Benedict

We are excited that acclaimed Australian musicians Simon Tedeschi and Roger Benedict will be performing Romantic Classics, a concert that is sure to light your fire and warm your soul in the cold winter month of July.

(L to R): Simon Tedeschi and Roger Benedict

Australian pianist Simon Tedeschi is often described by respected critics and musical peers as one of the finest artists in the world making the young pianist’s mark on music both undeniable and admirable.

Simon first performed a Mozart Piano Concerto at age 9 in the Sydney Opera House and has a string of international prizes and scholarships. At age 13, he gave a private recital to the iconic Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti. Since then, his career has gone from strength to strength and Simon has been awarded a string of international prizes and scholarships.

Roger Benedict’s wide-ranging career has encompassed work as a soloist, chamber musician, orchestral player, teacher and conductor. He was principal viola of the Philharmonia Orchestra, London, from 1991-2000 and since 2002 has been principal viola of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

In addition to his teaching at the Sydney Conservatorium, Roger is also a tutor for the European Union Youth Orchestra and artistic director of the Sydney Symphony Fellowship Program, Australasia’s leading professional training program for musicians.

We caught up with both of them ahead of their concert to find out more about their working relationship, being hopeless romantics and more.

How long have you been collaborating together?

Roger Benedict: About three years, but I had admired Simon from afar for many more years before that. We actually first collaborated at a Memorial concert for Hazel Hawke with the SSO. I was conducting and Simon played Mozart’s concerto for three pianos (he only played one of them though – he’s talented but not that talented)

How would you describe your working relationship?

Simon Tedeschi: Wonderful – working with Roger is yet another chapter in my musical life that fills me with intense joy. We are good friends and on the same page musically.

Roger Benedict: Easy as! We have the same attitude to rehearsing and both relish the spontaneity of a live performance. Simon is such a free and flexible musician – it must come from all the jazz he plays… 

You are both highly regarded in the musical world. Do you find this puts extra pressure on you, particularly in your joint concerts?

Simon Tedeschi

Simon Tedeschi: Well, in my case, it takes the pressure off – with chamber music, the focus outside of oneself and on the joint experience of delivering and communication music is what takes one away from the notion of stage fright that is so prevalent in solo performing. That said, I am guessing the viola is a very difficult instrument to play!

Roger Benedict: The beauty of collaborative music making is that any pressure there is is shared. Playing a joint recital is certainly less scary than playing a concerto with orchestra and we just try and have fun together.

What is your favourite “romantic classic” and why?

Simon Tedeschi: Off the top of my head, I’d have to say the 2nd movement of the Emperor Piano Concerto – Beethoven.

Roger Benedict: Schubert’s achingly beautiful Winterreise songs, which we will play in our concert. Because it’s musical story telling at its very best.

What is the most rewarding thing/what do you love the most about performing romantic classics together?

Simon Tedeschi: All great music has an element of the romantic, even if it isn’t in the ‘romantic’ period – because music has the ability to touch the most tender and redemptive of our emotions. So, the best part for me is being able to communicate with people, regardless of background or age – great music is unrivalled in this way.

Roger Benedict

If you could spend an afternoon with a classical composer who would you choose and why?

Simon Tedeschi: Schubert, because his music for me reflects a character that is truly aspirational and empathetic, innocent and nurturing. 

Roger Benedict: I think I’d pick Robert Schumann, the ultimate romantic who really did live and die for his art. A towering intellectual and writer on music (he invented the business of music criticism – but we’ll forgive him that…) who composed music of amost unbearable tenderness one minute and unalloyed joy the next.

To perform some of the most beautiful and romantic music you both must be hopeless romantics. Is this the case and what do you think makes the combination of music and love so powerful?

Simon Tedeschi: Well, I think my partner can say that I am ridiculously romantic, to a fault. As for music and love – well, both relate to our human desire for intimacy and connection, so it only makes sense that they are connected.

Roger Benedict: Hopeless romantic or romantically hopeless – you’d better ask my wife! You certainly have to be hopelessly idealistic, ridiculously single minded and incredibly passionate to do this job. 

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