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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Final 2017 Concert, Mendelssohn’s Oratorio Paulus, Sunday 10th December, 5pm

The Sydney University Graduate Choir is delighted to be performing Mendelssohn’s first oratorio, the rarely performed St. Paul – or Paulus, in the original German, in which it will be sung.

A musical masterpiece, this work was one of the composer’s most often performed during his lifetime, but in recent times is not heard as often as it could be. Paulus revived the oratorio as a musical form, and subsequently led to a commission of Mendelssohn’s other great oratorio: Elijah.

Paulus tells the story of the life of the apostle Paul, and his conversion on the road to Damascus, the work is both dramatic and poetic.

Written at a time when Mendelssohn led the rediscovery of Bach’s great choral masterpieces, this work is also very much a tribute to Bach – albeit through the lens of a Romantic sensibility.

Five superb soloists – Anita Kyle (soprano), Maria Timofeeva (mezzo-soprano),  Andrew Goodwin (tenor), David Hidden (bass) and Tristan Entwistle (bass)  have been assembled to perform with the Sydney University Graduate Choir and orchestra under the baton of Music Director, Christopher Bowen, OAM.

It promises to be a wonderful musical experience, not to be missed.

The concert will be held at 5:00pm, Sunday, 10 December 2017 at the Great Hall, Sydney University. Tickets are now available at the Seymour Centre Box Office – ph 02 9351 7950 or here.

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Meet our music director, Christopher Bowen OAM

Sydney based composer/conductor Christopher Bowen OAM, is one of Australia’s most prolific composers and versatile musicians. As an orchestral/choral conductor his enormous repertoire embraces all genres of music. He is also known for his skills as an expert arranger, pianist, vocal coach and clinician, and is proficient in languages.

His striking and thought provoking compositions combined with innovative concert programming have introduced both audiences and performers to a unique and inspirational world of music.

Bowen was born in Melbourne and studied music at Melbourne University and the Konservatorium der Stadt Wien, where he studied conducting, piano and korrepetition. He has worked with many organisations including the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Opera Australia, the Victorian State Opera and has been a staff member of the Vienna and Sydney Conservatoriums.

His conducting repertoire embraces the major orchestral and choral works from the 16th century to contemporary music. Known for his imaginative and innovative concert programs, he has introduced audiences to many unjustly neglected works such as Mozart’s Thamos König in Ägypten   Mendelssohn’s Die erste Walpurgisnacht and the extraordinary oratorio Paulus. He has conducted the Australian premieres of Beethoven’s Kantate auf den Tod Kaiser Josephs II, Saint-Saëns’ Le Déluge , Mass Opus 4 , Oratorio de Noel and Requiem, and Bruckner’s Requiem in D minor. The works of composers such as  Cherubini, C.P.E. Bach and the great bohemian composer  Jan Dismas Zelenka  have also been featured in concerts.

His considerable body of composition comprises many orchestral and choral works, instrumental and chamber music. He has also written two works, Nosferatu and Casablanca for the stage. His compositions and arrangements have received critical and public acclaim and have been broadcast on the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation),the ORF (Austrian Radio) and Fine Music 102.5 and performed by orchestras such as the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the Australian National Orchestra.

In recent years major commissions have produced works such as Triste, Triste; Chorea; The Liberdade Requiem (dedicated to those who died whilst fighting for East Timor’s independence); the satirical Démocratie based on Arthur Rimbaud’s prose-poem; Tenebrae; and an extended setting of Christopher Brennan’s evocative poem Sweet Silence after Bells. In 2011 he was commissioned by the Sydney University Graduate Choir to compose Songs of the Heart which was dedicated to Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC AVO. The premiere of this work, a setting of five poems by Christopher Brennan was greeted with acclaim.

His most recent composition An Australian War Requiem was commissioned to commemorate the Centenary of World War 1 and the Anzac tradition. It received its premiere on August 10th 2014 in a performance given at the Sydney Town Hall which was acclaimed by critics and audience alike.

In 1997 a CD recording of his music was released by the Australian National Orchestra and Choir. Since then other CDs of his music and arrangements have been released, among them, For the Beauty of the Earth, Botany Bay and Beyond, A Touch of Heaven and Reflections. In 2011 a recording of Saint-Saëns’ Mass Opus 4 and motets was released featuring the Sydney University Graduate Chamber Choir.

As part of his commitment to developing young artists, he was instrumental in establishing the Joan Carden Award for young singers which honours the name of one of Australia’s greatest sopranos.

He has also initiated the extremely popular and successful choral events “Sydney Sings Messiah” and “Sydney Sings Verdi Requiem” which take place in the magnificent Sydney Town Hall.

In 2008 he was made an Honorary Fellow of the University of Sydney in recognition of his contribution to its cultural life. That same year he also received the Stephen Lardner Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to adult education.

In 2009 he received an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for his services to music.

Christopher will be conducting the Sydney University Graduate Choir and Orchestra with Guest Choir in Sydney Sings Verdi Requiem this Sunday 12th November 3pm at Sydney Town Hall. For tickets and more information please click here.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the sponsors of Sydney Sings Verdi Requiem, Westfield and the City of Sydney.

For more information about Christopher, visit http://www.christopherbowen.com.au/#about

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Meet the Verdi Requiem Soloists

The magnificent Verdi Requiem, performed by the Sydney University Graduate Choir, a large guest choir and full orchestra, under the baton of music director Christopher Bowen OAM, is coming to the Sydney Town Hall on Sunday 12th November 2017.

The Choir is delighted to have assembled a very talented group of soloists for this concert and we’d like to introduce you to them!

Armenian-Australian soprano Natalie Aroyan was awarded first place in both The Opera Foundation New York Competition and the Herald Sun Aria Competition in 2008. Subsequently, she studied with soprano Ruth Falcon, Maestro Richard Bonynge, Kiri Te Kanawa, Renata Scotto and Mirella Freni, and is now a principal artist with Opera Australia. Her roles with the company have included: MIMI (La bohème); DESDEMONA (Otello; MICAELA (Carmen); ANNINA (La Traviata); HIGH PRIESTESS (Aida); AMELIA GRIMALDI (Simon Boccanegra); MICAELA in Carmen for Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, and the title role in Aida in Opera Australia’s premiere opera on the beach season on the Gold Coast.

Writing of her performance of the lead role of AMELIA in Simon Boccanegra, The Australian noted that her “voluptuous tone and fluid phrasing created a vivacious portrayal of the opera’s most appealing character.”  The Verdi Requiem is her debut with the Sydney University Graduate Choir.

Ashlyn Tymms, alto, has won numerous music awards and recently graduated as an HF Music Scholar at the Royal College of Music, attaining a Master’s of Performance with Distinction. Earlier this year, she performed as ROSIMONDA in Handel’s opera Faramondo with the Royal College of Music and the London Handel Festival conducted by Laurence Cummings and directed by William Relton. Other performances include staged scenes from Albert Herring, The Rape of Lucretia and The Turn of the Screw directed by John Copley at the Britten Theatre, Royal College of Music and the role of JUDITH in The Two Sisters, a new opera by Algirdas Kraunaitis.

Reviewing her performance in London earlier this year, The Financial Times remarked that she “provided glamour and a voice with colour and depth”.

Ashlyn has previously performed with the Choir as a soloist in the Dvorak Stabat Mater, CPE Bach’s Magnificat and Heinichen’s Missa Nr 9. She was also the winner of the 2015 Joan Carden Award, which is sponsored by the Choir.

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

He has toured with the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra with Maestro Temirkanov, performed with the Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras, Moscow Chamber Orchestra, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and given recitals with pianist Daniel de Borah at the Wigmore Hall, and at the Oxford Lieder, Port Fairy and Canberra International Music Festivals.

Recent engagements include Biographica with the Sydney Chamber Opera as part of the Sydney Festival, performances at the Adam Chamber Music Festival with the New Zealand Quartet, Bach’s Magnificat and the title role in The Rake’s Progress for 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 St Matthew Passion with the Melbourne Bach Choir; as well as featuring at Musica Viva’s Huntington Festival and the Australian Festival of Chamber Music, Townsville.

Adrian Tamburini, bass, is one of the most promising young Australian singers today, as recognized by his winning the prestigious YMF Australia Award and the Armstrong-Martin Scholarship at the 2017 Opera Awards.

Recent engagements for Opera Australia have included: ALCINDORO and BENOIT in Gale Edwards’ production of La bohème; LEPORELLO in Don Giovanni (touring throughout Australia); ZUNIGA (Carmen); ANTONIO (The Marriage of Figaro); SCIARRONE (Tosca); THE SPEAKER (The Magic Flute); PIETRO (Simon Boccanegra); THE COOK (The Love for Three Oranges); and THE MAESTRO (The Eighth Wonder). His concert repertoire includes the Mahler Symphony No.8 and Shostakovich’s Symphony No.13 (‘Babi Yar’).

He has performed with the Choir on numerous occasions, including the world premiere of Christopher Bowen’s An Australian War Requiem.

Tickets for the Sydney Sings … Verdi Requiem are now available at https://www.seymourcentre.com/events/event/verdi-messa-da-requiem/

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Sydney Chamber Opera’s Rape of Lucretia

Sydney Chamber Opera’s production of Britten’s Rape of Lucretia at Carriageworks offered an opportunity to showcase the splendid talents of a number of the outstanding young soloists the Choir has worked with in recent years.

Anna Dowsley (mezzo), who performed in our Verdi Requiem of April 2013 and a number of subsequent performances, sang the title role. Celeste Lazarenko (soprano), who co-starred with Anna in Verdi’s masterpiece, sang the important role of the Female Chorus. Andrew Goodwin (tenor), who was a very impressive soloist in our performance of Mendelssohn’s Paulus in May 2012 and will repeat his performance in December, was the Male Chorus and Simon Lobelson (bass), who is a regular soloist with Sydney Chamber Opera and performed most recently with SUGC in May this year, sang the role of Junius.

The vocal quality of the soloists was the best feature of the performance.  Britten’s music is far from easy and the difficulty for the singers was compounded by the production’s design, which had the orchestra and conductor behind the stage and out of their sight. Despite this, they performed flawlessly, without missing a beat.  Reviews have been constantly favourable.  Peter McCallum in the SMH, wrote that the performances were “consistently strong” and praised Anna’s “ringing rounded purity of sound”, Celeste’s “engaged communicativeness”, the “splendid noble bloom” to Andrew’s sound, and Simon’s “expressive darkness and well-moulded sound.”

All in all, despite some eccentricities in the production, your correspondent enjoyed the opera and could not avoid a feeling of smugness that the Choir has established excellent working relationships with these outstanding young singers.

John Bowan

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