Have you seen the ‘Australian War Requiem’ web site?

If you haven’t already discovered it, there is a special web site that covers a wide range of topics associated with ‘An Australian War Requiem’ by Christopher Bowen.

This dramatic and moving work is to be performed in Sydney Town Hall on November 11th at 3pm, as part of the Armistice Day Centenary.

Performers include the Sydney University Graduate Choir, guest choristers and large orchestra; Mercy Catholic College and Waitara Voices Children’s Choirs; soloists: Taryn Fiebig (soprano), Ashlyn Tymms (mezzo-soprano), Andrew Goodwin (tenor), Adrian Tamburini (bass) and Wade Kernot (bass), all conducted by composer Christopher Bowen OAM.

The web site includes information relating to the work itself:

  • Biographies of the composer, Christopher Bowen, and librettist, Pamela Traynor
  • Background to the composition of the work
  • Details of the 2014 premiere performance
  • A video of a short section of the premiere

In addition, an important aspect of the WW1 commemorations is the extent to which the war has formed a backdrop to the lives of so many contemporary Australians. With this in mind, the site includes stories from the families of our choristers (from the 2014-18 period), with memories and histories of their predecessors who took part in the conflict.

Finally, the ‘Australian War Requiem’ web site provides a link for ticket purchases for the Armistice Day memorial performance in Sydney Town Hall (direct link to tickets here) as well as online ordering of the CD and DVD from the 2014 premiere.

Click here to visit the ‘Australian War Requiem’ web site.

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Time to Meet the Soloists (part 2)!

Last week we introduced two of our four very talented soloists, Agnes Sarkis (mezzo soprano) and Anita Kyle (soprano). This week we invite you to meet our tenor Nicholas Jones, and baritone Simon Lobelson, who will perform under the baton of music director Christopher Bowen OAM, in our upcoming all Beethoven Concert on Sunday 12th August 2018, at the Great Hall Sydney University.

Nicholas Jones, Tenor

Nicholas Jones Lower resNicholas Jones completed a Bachelor of Music Performance at the former Victorian College of the Arts. Awards include the Opera Scholars Australia / Australian Music Events Scholar of the Year prize.

Performance highlights include: creating the critically acclaimed role of FISH LAMB in the world premiere of Cloudstreet for the State Opera of South Australia; YOUNG MAN 1 in Pecan Summer; SOLDIER 1 in The Emperor of Atlantis and BARNARDO in Anna Amalia’s opera Erwin und Elmire, for which he earned a Green Room Award nomination.

Performances for Opera Australia include: REMENDADO in Carmen; MARASQUIN in Two Weddings, One Bride; TAMINO in The Magic Flute (Opera Australia Touring); and COUNT ALMAVIVA in The Barber of Seville (Schools Touring). He also appeared in company’s national tour of its production of South Pacific.

Concert appearances include: Britten’s Canticles; Schumann’s Dichterliebe; Stefan Cassomenos’ Art of Thought; and Britten’s Serenade for Tenor and Horn at the Australian National Academy of Music.

In 2018, Nicholas continues his association with Opera Australia including: appearing in a number of roles in Shostakovich’s The Nose; ZORN in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, REMENDADO in Carmen; and ALBAZAR in The Turk in Italy. Other performances this year include the tenor solo in The Creation with Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Opera in the Markets and the role of MALE CHORUS in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia for Victorian Opera.

This is Nicholas’ debut with the Sydney University Graduate Choir.

Simon Lobelson, Baritone

SL2 for blogWith a career that has spanned 4 continents, 75 operatic roles from the baroque to the newly-composed, high respect as a pedagogue and superlative press reviews, SIMON LOBELSON has established himself as one of the most versatile baritones of his generation. Born in Sydney of Egyptian parents and brought up in Brussels, Simon graduated with distinction from Royal College of Music on scholarship, then with Sir Donald McIntyre. He has since worked extensively as a soloist in Australia, the Middle East, Asia, the UK and Europe. Recent oratorio appearances have included Sydney Opera House; Queen Elizabeth Hall; St. Johns Smith Square; St. Martin-in-the-Fields; Birmingham Symphony Hall and the Sydney Town Hall. He has sung with the London Mozart Players; Sydney Symphony Orchestra; Sydney Philharmonia Choirs; English Chamber Orchestra; Israel Camerata and the Lucerne Festival, under conductors Pierre Boulez, Charles Dutoit, Daniel Reuss, Reinbert de Leeuw, Richard Bonynge, Simon Halsey and Paul McCreesh.

Simon has performed with many opera companies including Royal Opera House Covent Garden; English National Opera; Young Vic; Pinchgut Opera; Sydney Chamber Opera and Canberra International Music Festival. Roles have included: AMFORTAS (Aida); ESCAMILLO (Carmen); the title role in Rigoletto; ALBERICH (Das Rheingold); MARCELLO (La Boheme); FORD (Falstaff); GERMONT (La Traviata); and the title role in The Marriage of Figaro. He has worked with many leading directors, including Jean-Claude Auvray, Patrick Nolan, Ian Judge, John Copley, Bruno Ravella, Melly Still, Cheryl Barker and Jude Kelly. He will make his Opera Australia debut this September, singing the title role of GREGOR SAMSA in Brian Howard’s Metamorphosis.

He has recorded for Chandos and ABC Classics. He is a lecturer and coach at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, a judge for the Sydney Eisteddfod and has given masterclasses in Australia and China.

His last performance with the Sydney University Graduate Choir was the concert of French music in April 2017.

The Choir is very much looking forward to welcoming you to our audience on Sunday 12th August at 3pm, at the Great Hall Sydney University. Tickets are available now at www.sydneyunigradchoir.eventbrite.com

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Time to Meet the Soloists!

We are delighted to introduce you to our four very talented soloists, who will take to the stage under the baton of music director Christopher Bowen OAM, in our upcoming all Beethoven Concert on Sunday 12th August 2018, at the Great Hall Sydney University.

In this first of a two part series, we present our soprano and mezzo soprano.

Anita Kyle, Soprano

Anita Kyle for blog

Lyric soprano ANITA KYLE received her Licentiate Diploma in Music (LMusA) in Singing while studying with Maree Ryan at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.  She has also attended international summer schools at the American Institute of Music in Graz and the Salzburg Mozarteum in Austria.

Anita has won or been a finalist in a number of important singing competitions. These have included: winner of the National Operatic Aria, Music Teachers’ Association of NSW Vocal Scholarship; semi-finalist in the McDonalds’ Operatic Aria Scholarship; finalist in the 2MBS-FM Young Performer of the Year; ABC Young Performer Awards, and the Dame Joan Sutherland Scholarship.

While studying with Anthea Moller, Anita was awarded the MTO German-Australian Opera Grant, a 12-month solo contract at the Hessian State Theatre in Wiesbaden, Germany. Her roles there included: the 15 YEAR OLD in Lulu; FRASQUITA in Carmen; SOPHIE in Werther; SANDMAN and DEW FAIRY in Hansel and Gretel; PAPAGENA in The Magic Flute; LUIGIA in Viva La Mamma; PASIPHAE in Ariadne;  JUNGFRAU and ENGEL in Das Paradies und die Peri; GOVERNESS in Orpheus and Eurydice; and LIESCHEN in Bach’s Coffee Cantata.

In all, she spent four years in Germany, during which she also performed in a number oratorios and recitals. Since returning to Australia, Anita has performed in joint recitals with Gerard Willems and Deborah De Graaf (in Schubert’s Der Hirt auf dem Felsen),  Brad Cooper and Robert Andrew Greene, as well as with organist Mark Quarmby in the Sydney Town Hall for the Organ Music Society of Sydney. She has also been broadening her repertoire as the soprano soloist in Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras (No.5);Fauré’s Requiem;Casals’ El cant dels Ocells (The Song of the Birds); Jenkins’ The Armed Man and Stella Natalis; Haydn’s Mass No. 10 in C Major (Mass in a Time of War) and Mozart’s Vesperae solennes de confessore K339, Mass in C Minor K427, Regina Coeli and Requiem; Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem; and Bach’s Magnificat with the Manly-Warringah Choir under the baton of Dr Carlos Alvarado.

Anita made her debut with Sydney University Graduate Choir in 2015, performing the soprano solo in Handel’s Israel in Egypt and has returned as a soloist in C.P.E. Bach’s Magnificat; Heinichen’s Mass No. 9; Handel’s Messiah;  and Mendelssohn’s Paulus.

Agnes Sarkis, Mezzo-soprano

Agnes Sarkis_PhotoAgnes Sarkis was born in Iran to an Armenian family. She graduated from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music with an Advanced Diploma of Opera, 2011 and Graduate Diploma in Music (Opera), 2012, and while there she studied with Barry Ryan. She was a finalist in both the 2013 Bel Canto Award and the 2014 The Sydney Eisteddfod opera scholarship competition.

She has sung a number of  roles with Opera Australia, including: MERCÉDÈS in Carmen; OLGA in The Merry Widow; SUZUKI in Madama Butterfly; CHERUBINO in The Marriage of Figaro (Tour); and THIRD LADY in The Magic Flute (Tour). For Opera Australia she has also been a chorus member in Carmen; Madama Butterfly and Turandot on Sydney Harbour; and in La Boheme; Faust; The Pearlfishers; The Magic Flute and Cavallieria Rusticana/Pagliacci.

With other companies, she has sung a number of chorus and solo roles: DAISY BATES in Daisy Bates at Ooldea; PUBLIC OPINION in Orphée aux Enfers; BALKIS in La Rencontre Imprévue; DINAH in Trouble in Tahiti; SYREN in King Arthur; LA SOEUR AINEE in Les Malheurs d’Orphée; FRAU REICH in Die Lustigen Weiber von Windsor; MADAMA ROSA in Il Capanello di Notte; ANDRONICO in Tamerlano; MARIANNA in Il Signor Bruschino; MRS HERRING in Albert Herring; HEN in  The Cunning little Vixen (Sydney Chamber Opera) and The Best of G & S (Sydney Opera House).

Agnes was highly commended for the Joan Carden Award, 2011, and was the winner of this Award in 2012.

Agnes last performed with the Sydney University Graduate Choir in May 2014, when she sang works by Mozart and Michael Haydn.

The Choir is very much looking forward to welcoming you to our audience on Sunday 12th August at 3pm, at the Great Hall Sydney University. Tickets are available now at Eventbrite.

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Dawn Plasto interviews sound technician Greg Ghavalas

Quietly setting up ‘mikes’ around the choir and orchestra or sitting at the console at the anteroom in the Great Hall is our technician Greg Ghavalas.  Greg has been making our recordings for some years many of them first class. Dawn asks Greg some pointed questions to discover what makes him ‘tick’.

Q. Where were you born and did you come from a musical family?

A. I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa.  The family was not musical as such, but there was always music around. Mostly off gramophone records.

Q. Where were you educated?

A. I went to Florida Park High School and returned there to teach after I completed my Teaching Diploma with the Transvaal Education Department.  I have some university education, specialising in maths, applied maths and physics.  These are the subjects I taught to the upper level students.

Q. What career path did you follow?

A: I taught for two years, but the salary was so dismally low that I knew I would have to find a better paid vocation, if I was to ever marry and support a family.  These were the days at the dawn of commercial computing and this is the field that I entered.  I spent the next 40 years associated with computers and computer projects.

It was this skill that allowed us to emigrate to Australia in 1985 where I worked for a number of banks project managing major projects.

Q. You are married to Godelieve, a very talented organist. Where did you meet?

A. I used to be a keyboard player (read pianist in those days) in a rock and roll band.  Godelieve’s brother played the trumpet in the band.  I happened to mention to him one day that I was very fond of classical organ music.  He told me his sister was an organist – why don’t I come and meet her the next Sunday.  Four months later we were married.  We celebrated our 40th anniversary in February this year.

Q. Are you fond of music and if so who is your favourite composer?

A. I have always been associated with music in some form or other.  As a kid, I mostly liked the music of the 1930’s to 50’s.  After I met Godelieve, she educated me in the classics.  If I might be allowed to pick two of my favourites, they would be J.S Bach and Mozart (and Haydn).  My favourite genre is baroque.

Q. Recording Christopher Bowen’s An Australian War Requiem in the Town Hall in 2016 must have been a challenge. Perhaps you might like to tell us about that?

A. Although I spent sleepless nights worrying about this recording, it actually worked out to be less traumatic than I thought it was going to be.  The Town Hall technical staff were amazingly helpful.  I have recorded at other public venues where it seems that the staff are there to make your life difficult – not so at the Town Hall.  Everything was easy, everything was possible.  I do remember moments during the performance, sitting downstairs listening where I had tears in my eyes, I found the music so moving. I think Christopher has a wonderful creation there.

Q. Considering the many recordings you have made which has given you the most satisfaction?

A. I am very fond of string quartets and the opportunity to record a number of visiting overseas quartets at The City Recital Hall on behalf of Fine Music FM has certainly been the highlight of my recording efforts.  Notwithstanding this, although the Australian War Requiem had its challenges, I regard it as one of the best recordings I have made, ably assisted by Doug and my son and daughter  – the crew that are always there to help even though my son walked the City to Surf that same day after helping with the setup.

Q. When not recording what do you do for relaxation?

A. Recording is my relaxation.  It’s what I used to do to get away from complex computer projects.  Nowadays though, as I have retired from the workforce, it is my job.  So, apart from music, I love to read and have started growing vegetables.

Q. Can you tell us about your children? I understand one is a talented musician.

A. We have a son, Gethryn, and a daughter, Tamaryn.  Tamaryn is a flute player.  When we spent two years living in England, she was lucky enough to be taught by the first flautist of the London Philharmonic.  It was a wonderful experience for all of us and the benefits continue to this day.  Gethryn followed in his father’s footsteps and is involved in computer projects.  He has an Applied Statistics Masters Degree – I could never understand the stuff.

Q. Are you fond of reading if so what are you reading now?

A. Very fond of reading.  My reading is very catholic.  I read most things and almost exclusively fiction.  I have just finished Grahame Greene’s Stamboul Train.  I like medical thrillers and Michael Palmer is a favourite.  Christopher Reich is also on my popularity list.

Q. What was your connection with Grads. Did you find us or did we find you?

A. I assisted someone who recorded your concerts previously.  John Bowan subsequently got in touch with me and asked me if I could record their next concert.  I think he took a bit of a chance….  He has got in touch with me every year ever since.


Dawn Plasto




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Dawn Plasto interviews the Graduate Choir’s current president Jackie Rotenstein

Q. Thank you for talking to us Jackie. Perhaps you might like to tell us about your family. Are they from Europe and are they musical?

A. My family indeed comes from Europe – Russia and Hungary – but I was born in Melbourne.  I still have family spread across the world in eastern Europe, America, South America and Israel.

My parents never had a chance to learn a musical instrument, but both always loved classical music.  We always had classical music in the background in our home.  Lots of Chopin, Beethoven, Rachmaninov… operas, piano concerti, symphonies

Q. Where were you educated and did you learn music at school?

A. I was born and educated in Melbourne.  I started my musical journey with Yamaha at preschool age, and moved to piano lessons at around 5-6 years old.  I also played the violin, cello, crumhorn and electric bass along the way! After I finished high school, I spent two years of a four year Music degree at the Melbourne Conservatorium before transferring to Law/Economics at Monash.

Q. What lead you to the Grads?

A. I happened to chat to one of the Grads choristers (Kirk) while we were both waiting for our children’s AMEB exams at Clarence Street. Kirk told me about the Grads Choir, and it sounded fantastic – just the kind of choir/music repertoire I love to sing.   I looked at the Grads website, and applied to join.  My first performance with the Choir was An Australian War Requiem in 2014 – a wonderful experience.

Q. What is your favourite piece of choral music and why?

A. I have many favourites including Verdi’s Requiem and Bach’s St Matthew Passion.

Recently exposed to other outstanding music, my current favourite is the Requiem by Francois Joseph Gossec,  a Belgian composer from the Classical period.

I also enjoy attending the Opera – far too many favourites to list here, but I can’t go past mentioning La Boheme!

Q. Do you have other interests as well as music?

A. Family time, scuba, a bit of running / swimming laps to keep fit.  I absolutely love bushwalking & hiking through our National Parks and spotting wildlife!  (Being the Grads President does take up quite a bit of my time though!)

Q. What books do you like to read?

A. Science fiction & adventure stories.  I also read a lot of articles about scuba diving and about international current events, especially in the Middle East

Q. I know you travel overseas, and wonder if have you attended concerts and operas while travelling?

A. I’ve done lots of overseas travel over the years, including to the USA, Chile, Israel, Asia and the South Pacific islands. I have also done lots of travelling and exploring in the National Parks around Australia. Haven’t been to Tasmania yet!  That’s still on my ‘to do’ list.

I don’t tend to see concerts when I travel, as I enjoy exploring fairly remote locations, and they are often on or under the water!

Dawn Plasto

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Interview with a Tenor – almost as rare as a Vampire but much more pleasant!

The Grads choir was pleased to welcome another tenor into their small but talented tenor section in 2017. Tony Suryanthono is a man of many talents. As well as singing tenor he is a fine pianist and conducts the choir at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church Randwick which is fast gaining a reputation for its fine singing. Our roving reporter Dawn Plasto put a few questions to Tony to discover the man behind the voice:

Q. Where were you born and do you come from a musical family?

A. I was born in Jakarta, Indonesia.  My parents aren’t musical, but my maternal grandma used to conduct a church choir in her day.  My brother plays the cello and we occasionally play duets together.

Q. You have an unusual name – perhaps you might tell us a little about it?

A. Indeed it is quite an unusual name even by Indonesian standards!  My nickname Tony is derived from the latter half of my name Suryanthono.  The first half “Surya” is used as common prefix for all the male members in my family and is derived from the Sanskrit word for the sun.

Q. Where were you educated and were you involved in music at School?

A. I studied in Jakarta until I was 14 before moving to Sydney where I studied at Marcellin College in Randwick.  During my time in Jakarta I played the piano for school masses and official “flag” ceremonies on Monday mornings.  I loved doing it, especially because the piano was located in the headmaster’s air-conditioned office, whereas all my friends had to stand for an hour saluting the flag and listening to boring speeches in the searing morning heat!

Q. Did you continue your music studies after school and what career path did you follow?

A. I finished my AMEB grades and obtained my Licentiate Diploma in piano recital with the Trinity College London during my university years.  After graduating from UNSW I worked as a structural engineer for 10 years.  During this time I studied the organ with Peter Kneeshaw when he was the titular organist at St Mary’s Cathedral.   I recently started a new job in property development and look forward to the next phase in my career.

Q. What is your favourite piece of choral music and why?

A. JS Bach’s St Matthew Passion.  It is a finely-wrought composition that never ceases to amaze me with its sheer beauty and inventiveness, variety of expression, and depth of contrapuntal textures.  Listening to it is also a spiritual experience for me personally.  I love the fact that Bach wrote it for liturgical use in his religious community – hence the numerous Chorales that Bach’s congregation would have sung.  I think this gives the work a spark of life that the other great “museum” pieces do not necessarily have.

Q. What brought you to Grads?

A. My good friends Dominic (tenor) and Maree (soprano) invited me to a SUGC concert a few years ago.  I think the choir sang Dvorak’s Stabat Mater.  I remember being impressed by the music and Christopher’s dynamic leadership and musicianship.  It took a few more SUGC concerts and drinks with Dominic until I finally decided to join and be a part of the sound.

Q What other interests do you enjoy apart from music?

A. I enjoy reading, learning about history, other languages and cultures, and I try to keep fit.  I’m also quite partial to single malt whiskey!

Q. Do you travel?

A. I love travelling!  Favourite travel destination so far: Japan.  There’s no other place on earth like it.

Q. What book are you reading at present?

A. The End of Certainty by Paul Kelly.  It’s an in-depth analysis of the fundamental policy reforms enacted by the Hawke-Keating government in the 1980s and early 1990s.  It would seem Christopher’s interest in Australian politics has rubbed off on me!


Dawn Plasto



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The soaring heights of Romantic music

Next Sunday, May 6th, the Sydney University Graduate Choir launches its 2018 concert season with performances of Nicholai’s Te Deum and Mendelssohn’s Psalm 42 & Psalm 114.

Composed by Otto Nicolai in 1832, the Te Deum is a large-scale work for six soloists, chorus and orchestra. Today Nicolai is a largely forgotten composer, known mostly for the overture to his opera, The Merry Wives of Windsor. This performance of the Te Deum will show that he is a composer of substance, worth rediscovering.

The Sydney University Graduate Choir is delighted to also perform two more works by Felix Mendelssohn, both settings of Psalms that were heavily influenced by his passion for the music of Bach. Written in 1837, Mendelssohn described Psalm 42 as “my best sacred work”. He was not alone in this assessment. After a performance of the work at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig in 1838, Schumann wrote that “Mendelssohn has attained his highest evolution as church composer”.

Psalm 114, dating from 1841, is equally impressive. Composed for double chorus, this work concludes with a mighty 8-part fugue that will sound magnificent in the vaulted acoustic of Sydney University’s Great Hall.

The dynamic Sydney University Graduate Choir music director, Christopher Bowen OAM, leads this performance which will mark his 26th year as Music Director.

“2018 promises to be an exciting year of musical discoveries for our audiences who will have the opportunity to hear some neglected masterpieces of the repertoire for the very first time. It gives me the greatest of pleasure to bring these works from the shadows out into the light.”

The line-up for this concert includes six gifted soloists, one of whom – Joshua Oxley (tenor) – was winner of the 2017 Joan Carden Award, hosted by the Sydney University Graduate Choir.

For more information and to purchase tickets please click here.

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Friederike Scheppach’s B and B

Earlier this month, in the company of a music-loving friend, who has on more than one occasion been a member of our Guest Choir, I visited Adelaide to attend the Festival presentation of Brett Dean’s new opera, Hamlet.  We drove from Sydney and decided to stay a little out of Adelaide at the charming bed and breakfast, The Karawatha Cottages owned and run by our former Grads colleague Friederike Scheppach and her husband Georg. (http://www.karawathacottages.com.au)

Set in the delightful McLaren Vale wine region, Karawatha is quite idyllic, surrounded by vineyards, yet only about 40 minutes drive from downtown Adelaide and a similar distance from the Adelaide Hills.

On our first day in the region we went for lunch at the well-known d’Arenberg winery, just a few minutes drive from Karawatha www.darenberg.com.au.  We were amazed to find that Chester Osborn, the boss of d’Arenberg, has recently had an extraordinary modernist building, known as The Cube, erected at the winery.  Five storeys high, this architectural fantasy contains a restaurant, an art gallery, and the cellar door, and offers magnificent panoramic views of the McLaren Vale vineyards. Remarkable!

The day of the opera, we travelled to Adelaide via Mount Barker, in the Adelaide Hills, where we wanted to visit Ukaria, a state-of-the-art chamber music venue, donated to South Australia by Ulrike Klein.  Ukaria turned out to be an extraordinary building, in an entirely rural setting, a kilometre or two down an unsealed country track. With about 200 seats and offering views through the windows into vineyards and farmland it was absolutely unforgettable! https://www.ukaria.com/.   A number of Festival events were scheduled to take place here but our timetable prevented us from attending.

From Mount Barker, we reached the Adelaide city centre in about 40 minutes and attended the performance of Dean’s Hamlet at the Festival Theatre.  It was as impressive as the bulk of reviews have indicated.

On our final day at Karawatha, we found ourselves with unexpected free time, and at very short notice, decided to visit the Barossa Valley, about as far north of Adelaide as McLaren Vale is south.  Visiting one wine region from another might seem a little like carrying coals to Newcastle but this proved to be a delightful, rewarding and comfortable excursion, including calls at Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop and the historic and imposing Seppeltsfield winery.

We were delighted with our stay at Friederike’s Karawatha Cottages and not surprised to find that is doing excellent business, with many international and interstate guests choosing to stay there.  Friederike and Georg are very friendly and helpful hosts and as I’ve pointed out the location is ideal. For choir members, their family and friends travelling to South Australia I highly recommend a stay at Friederike and Georg’s bed and breakfast. I plan to return ASAP.

John Bowan

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Sydney Sings is back in 2018!

The Sydney Sings … concert series returns to the Sydney Town Hall on  Remembrance Day, 11 November 2018, with a performance of An Australian War Requiem.

This original work, composed by contemporary Australian composer Christopher Bowen OAM, was first performed in August 2014 by the Sydney University Graduate Choir at the Sydney Town Hall to great acclaim. The deeply moving libretto written by Pamela Traynor draws on correspondence between mothers and their sons on the battlefield, and on historical fact. Together with the masterful musical composition, the AWR is a stunning piece that commemorates the anniversary of the Great War.

As part of the Sydney Sings series, the November 2018 performance provides an opportunity for choristers from across Sydney and NSW to join the Sydney University Graduate Choir, soloists and a full orchestra in performing the AWR at the Sydney Town Hall. Watch out in March/April for invitations to join the guest choir for this great event.

The Sydney Sings … series was initiated in 2007, and most recently included the performance of the Verdi Requiem in November 2017, where approximately 220 choristers including over 140 guest singers, a full 60 piece orchestra and four very fine soloists came together under the baton of Australian composer and music director Christopher Bowen, to perform the wonderful Messa da Requiem by Giuseppe Verdi. Having performed it previously to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Verdi’s birth, all involved were very keen to present this masterful work to Sydney audiences again.

Bowen is a great admirer of Verdi, in particular the Requiem, and brought great insight and understanding of its qualities to the performance.

Along with a large choir, the Requiem also requires an impressive sound from the orchestra, who did not disappoint. The orchestra sported 34 strings, with a six-person cello section and four double-basses, with Lizzie Jones as Concertmaster.  Special mention must be made of John Cran, Sydney’s legendary bassoonist, who added a page to his legend by leading the bassoon section on his ninetieth birthday!

Congratulations, John!  We look forward to many future engagements for John in our orchestra.

An outstanding quartet of four young soloists sang in the Requiem: Natalie Aroyan (soprano), a principal artist with Opera Australia, made her debut with the Grads;  Ashlyn Tymms (mezzo-soprano), winner of the 2015 Joan Carden Award, sponsored by the Choir, made another welcome appearance with us, as did Andrew Goodwin (tenor) and Adrian Tamburini (bass), two of our favourite male soloists.  They sang beautifully as individuals and as an ensemble, despite only coming together shortly before the performance.

The format of the Sydney Sings series means that there are not a lot of rehearsals that bring together the SUGC and guest choirs, the full orchestra and soloists under the one roof.  Many rehearsals are conducted with individual groups, with the all parts coming together as one tremendous musical jigsaw puzzle on the performance weekend. The success of this syncronisation is largely due to the hard work and talents of music director Christopher Bowen, whose masterful direction ensures that all parts are working in harmony and delivering an excellent performance.

Artistically, the performance was one of the Choir’s best.  Inspired by the terrific playing of our orchestra, the splendid singing of the soloists, and Bowen’s revelatory grasp of Verdi’s wonderful score, the Choir achieved a high standard.

As a chorister there is no greater thrill than bringing to life the ferocious power of the Dies Irea from the depths of the choral stands, living the threatening drama of the Tuba Mirum and then enjoying the impassioned beauty of the Agnus Dei. Performing such a work in the iconic Sydney Town Hall adds another level of thrill and excitement, particularly as we watch the seats fill and get ready to present a glorious choral work to our audience.

The concerts in the Sydney Sings series are a huge undertaking and are supported by generous corporate sponsors. In this case the Verdi Requiem was supported by Westfield and the City of Sydney, both of which ensured that the Choir was able to deliver an outstanding performance with fine musicians of great talent.

Since the New Year, CDs of this performance have arrived. The recording is excellent and will be on sale at our May 6th concert in the Great Hall, University of Sydney.

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Meet the Soloists for Mendelssohn’s Paulus

In preparation for the upcoming performance of Paulus, Mendelssohn’s rarely presented oratorio, at the Great Hall Sydney University on Sunday 10th December at 5pm, let’s meet the talented soloists who will be joining the Choir and Orchestra, under the baton of music director, Christopher Bowen OAM.

Concert tickets are available now here.

Anita Kyle, Soprano

An accomplished lyric soprano, Anita Kyle, has won many awards and accolades including. the National Operatic Aria, Music Teachers’ Assoc of NSW Vocal Scholarship, and was semi-finalist in the McDonalds’ Operatic Aria Scholarship and finalist in the 2MBS-FM Young Performer of the Year Award, ABC Young Performer Awards and the Joan Sutherland Scholarship.

Anita Kyle

Her roles include the 15 YEAR OLD in Lulu; FRASQUITA in Carmen; SOPHIE in Werther; both the SANDMAN and DEW FAIRY in Hansel and Gretel; PAPGENA in The Magic Flute; LIESCHEN in Bach’s Coffee Cantata and GOVERNESS in Orpheus and Eurydice.

Other performances include Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras (no.5), Faure’s Requiem, Mozart’s Vesperae solennes de confessore, Casals’ El cant dels Ocells (The Song of the Birds), Jenkins’ The Armed Man, Haydn’s Mass no. 10 in C Major (Mass in a Time of War), Mozart`s Mass in C Minor, Saint-Saens’ Christmas Oratorio, Jenkins’s Stella Natalis and Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem).

Anita debuted with the Syd Uni Grad Choir in 2015 in Handel’s Israel in Egypt and returned to perform in CPE Bach’s Magnificat, Heinichen’s Mass No. 9 and Handel’s Messiah in 2016.

David Hidden, Bass

From a dusty underground gold store in Adelaide to a dripping scaffold high above Sydney Harbour, 2017 has been an eventful year for this Sydney-based baritone. Recent highlights include Barry Kosky’s triumphant production of Handel’s Saul for the Adelaide Festival, Pinchgut Opera’s Anacreon and Pygmalion (Rameau), Carmen on Sydney Harbour with Opera Australia, and Various People’s subterranean production of Orpheus Underground, performed in a colonial cellar under the centre of Adelaide City.

David Hidden

David greatly enjoys touring. He spent 2011-2016 taking Baroque opera around primary schools in NSW and beyond with the Musica Viva in Schools programme. In 2015 he toured the country as GUGLIEMO in Cosi fan Tutte (Co-Opera).

On the concert platform David has sung with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Vladimir Ashkenazy, with Bryn Terfel and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and with the Australia Ensemble, Canberra Symphony, Penrith Symphony, and the Willoughby Symphony. In 2015 David performed in Handel’s Israel in Egypt and in 2016 Messiah with the Sydney University Graduate Choir.


Maria Timofeeva, Mezzo-soprano

Mezzo-soprano Maria Timofeeva studied singing and acting at the St Petersburg Academy for Dramatic Art. She has performed in many of the prestigious halls of Russia and Europe.

Whilst still a soloist at the St. Petersburg Opera Company, Zazerkale, Maria began her career as a singing teacher. She now divides her time between solo singing engagements, and teaching private students and at MLC Burwood.



Tristan Entwistle, Baritone

Sydney born baritone Tristan Entwistle recently completed a Masters of Music Studies (Opera Performance) under the tutelage of Ms Maree Ryan AM at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, where he completed his Bachelor of Music (Performance), and where he was awarded the Bud Brown Memorial and Patricia Lucas Music Achievement Scholarships.

Tristan Entwistle

Working with Opera New England, Opera Projects Sydney, Penrith Symphony Orchestra, Operantics, Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Sydney, Sydney Conservatorium Opera and Opera Hunter, Tristan’s operatic roles include: ESCAMILLO in Carmen; PAPAGENO in Die Zauberflöte; GUGLIELMO in Così fan tutte; LEPORELLO in Don Giovanni; NARDO in La Finta Giardiniera; GIOVE in La Calisto; THE DRUNKEN POET/CORYDON in The Fairy Queen; EDMUND BERTRAM in Mansfield Park; BARONE DOUPHOL in La Traviata; DOTTOR GRENVIL in La Traviata; ELDER McLEAN in Susannah; DR FALKE in Die Fledermaus; OLD YUE in Chang’E and the Moon; and GUISEPPE PALMIERI in The Gondoliers;.

Tristan’s concert repertoire includes Stockhausen’s Luzifers Tanz (Australian premiere); Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9; Handel’s Messiah; Mozart’s Requiem; Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on Christmas Carols; Bernstein’s Mass and Rossini’s Stabat Mater.

A founding member of Operantics, he was stage and music director for their 2016 double bill of The Telephone and Gentlemen’s Island (Australian premiere). As well as regularly performing with the company, he acts as Artistic Advisor.

His current engagements include performances of Handel’s Messiah with Radio Community Chest at the Sydney Town Hall, and with Penrith Symphony Orchestra. In 2018, Tristan will make his debut with Opera Australia in the chorus of Carmen. This is his first appearance with the Sydney University Graduate Choir and we are very pleased to welcome him our stage.

Andrew Goodwin, Tenor

Andrew Goodwin has appeared with orchestras and opera companies, including the Bolshoi Opera, Gran Theatre Liceu Barcelona, Teatro Real Madrid, La Scala Milan and Opera Australia, in Europe, the UK, Asia and Australia..

Andrew Goodwin

He has given many concert performances: he toured with the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra with Maestro Temirkanov; he performed with the Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras, Moscow Chamber Orchestra, and Sydney Philharmonia Choirs; and he gave recitals with pianist Daniel de Borah at the Wigmore Hall. He has also appeared at numerous festivals, including the Oxford Lieder, Port Fairy, Huntington, Coriole, Canberra, and Australian International Festival of Chamber Music, Townsville.

Recent engagements have included: Bach’s Magnificat and the title role in The Rake’s Progress (Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra); Mozart’s Litaniae de Venerabili Altaris Sacramento (Sydney Symphony Orchestra); Lyle Chan’s My Dear Benjamin (Queensland Symphony Orchestra); Britten’s Serenade for Tenor and Horn (Adelaide and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras); EGEO in Cavalli’s Giasone and FLORIVAL in Grétry’s L’Amant Jaloux (Pinchgut Opera); recitals with Daniel de Borah at the Melbourne Recital Centre; the EVANGELIST in Bach’s St Matthew Passion (Melbourne Bach Choir); a recital with pianist Mira Yevtich at the Concert Hall of the Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg; Degtyarev’s Russian oratorio Minin i Pojarsky (Moscow Chamber Orchestra); Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius at St John’s Smith Square, London; LENSKY in Eugene Onegin and TAMINO in The Magic Flute (Bolshoi Opera); Messiah (Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Society); and Bach’s B Minor Mass (The Song Company).

His 2017 engagements include: Biographica and The Rape of Lucretia (Sydney Chamber Opera); Wainwright’s Prima Donna (Adelaide Festival); EVANGELIST, St. John Passion (Melbourne Bach Choir); Mozart’s Requiem (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra); Dream of Gerontius and Messiah (Sydney Philharmonia Choirs); and appearances with the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, Australian Piano Quartet and at the Coriole Festival, South Australia, and the Adam Chamber Music Festival, New Zealand.

Andrew appeared with the Sydney University Graduate Choir in 2012 for its 60th anniversary concert, performing Mendelssohn’s oratorio Paulus, and in 2016 in Haydn’s Creation and Handel’s Messiah. This year he joined the Choir for its Belle Époque concert and Verdi’s Requiem.

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