Joan Carden Award 2017 – Applications open

Applications are currently open – closing April 28th – for entries for this year’s Joan Carden Award.

Conducted with the gracious support of Miss Joan Carden AO OBE, this Award aims to:

  • identify and encourage young singing talent
  • strengthen the Choir’s relationship with the University of Sydney and the Sydney music community, and
  • honour the contribution of Joan Carden to music in Australia.
Ashlyn Tymms Photographer David Gross

Ashlyn Tymms

The last winner of this biennial event, in 2015, was mezzo-soprano Ashlyn Tymms. Ashlyn is currently a HF Music Scholar at the Royal College of Music, London, undertaking a Masters of Performance. Her numerous exciting recent engagements in the UK and elsewhere have included performing as a soloist within Vaughan Williams Serenade to Music with the Royal College of Music Symphony Orchestra at Buckingham Palace hosted by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales in February. She returned to Sydney to perform the alto solo parts for the CPE Bach Magnificat and J D Heinichen’s Mass no.9 in concert with SUGC last August, and we look forward very much to welcoming her as soloist for the Sydney Sings Verdi Requiem concert in Sydney Town Hall this November.

This year on August 13th, the finals of the 2017 Joan Carden Award will be held in the Great Hall of the University of Sydney, accompanied by a full orchestra. The audience will once again participate in the judging through a ‘Peoples’ Prize’.

If you enjoy the performances of the soloists at our concerts, this is definitely a date for your diary. And if you are – or have a friend or relative who is – a young professional soloist, then this could be your/their chance to perform and to win a prestigious Award with a significant cash prize.

Young singers aged between 22 and 35 years are invited to become part of this exciting event! The Award has a cash prize of $6,000 and the opportunity to perform as a soloist in one of the Choir’s forthcoming concerts. Apply here – the closing date for applications is Friday April 28th 2017.

David Moser

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Adrian Tamburini – Bass-Baritone Extraordinaire

Adrian Tamburini

In recent years, Adrian Tamburini has become one of the Choir’s favourite soloists. Adrian first sang with us as bass soloist in the premiere of Christopher Bowen’s An Australian War Requiem in August 2014, and returned for Dvořak’s Stabat Mater, von Suppé’s Requiem and, most recently, Haydn’s Die Schöpfung, the brilliant recording of which I am listening to, as I write. Those performances were all outstanding and Adrian contributed significantly to their success. We look forward to future engagements for him with the Choir.

As a Principal with Opera Australia, Adrian is a splendid asset. He plays Zuniga in the current production of Carmen on Sydney Harbour.  His performance in this small role drew the following striking comment from the SMH’s music critic, Peter McCallum who stated “As the officer, Zuniga, Adrian Tamburini creates a persona of imperious entitlement.”

His talent is further evidenced as the recipient of the 2017 Opera Award, a prestigious prize which will allow him to continue his studies in Europe.

We congratulate Adrian on his successes and look forward to the time when we have the chance to see Adrian in a robust role, such as King Philip in Don Carlos or Germont père in La Traviata. That too would surely be a brilliant performance!

John Bowan

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Noah Peres – The Interview

noah-peresWe are delighted to welcome our new accompanist Noah Peres. Not only is he a great musician but he  understands our fearless leader’s political sense of humour which makes for happy rehearsal periods. Noah is studying advanced maths at the University of Sydney so we asked him  to tell us a little about himself

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

I was born in Sydney and raised on the Central Coast in Forresters Beach. No one in my family that I know of has ever laid hands on a musical instrument, I guess I just had the talent from birth.  I played the piano since I was four.

What did you play and when did you discover the classics

Oh well after about a year of learning from teaching books, the first piece i really studied was Clementi’s Sonatina 1 in C major, which I performed at the Schools Showcase at Laycock St Theatre. Ever since then I have had a passion for music from the Romantic era as well as the classics of Beethoven and Bach.

Where were you educated and did you attend a Conservatorium?

I started school at Wamberal Public, then finished year 5 and 6 at Knox Grammar since i won a scholarship there. I then studied at Gosford High, graduated in 2016. As for piano, I initially had private lessons with Tibor Szakos, then Ross Hamilton, Alexey Yemtsov and finally Carl Schmidt at the Central Coast Conservatorium.

Living on the north coast do you enjoy swimming or what interests to you have?

I guess I go swimming occasionally. As for other hobbies I love maths and Science and I am a sucker for board games.

You are studying advanced maths at Sydney University –  where are you hoping this will lead you?

Yes I am, in all honesty I am hoping my passion will guide me to a career I will love.  I have no idea where I’ll end up.

 What composers do you enjoy playing and why?

My personal favourites would be those of late 19th-early 20th centuries, the work of Rachmaninoff, Ravel and Liszt. I love their piano music because of the number of forms which they employ to express their passion, beautiful lyrical melodies sometimes, other times heavy intense chords and drama. There is beauty to be found in all their music.

Are you enjoying the life at Sydney University?

Well I’ve only just graduated, but I’m eagerly awaiting beginning my Usyd adventure.

 If you were to make music your career what form would it take?

I doubt I would be a solo performer, perhaps an accompanist or part of a chamber group or orchestra. I believe collaboration allows musicians to get the most out of themselves and their instruments.

Do you play another instrument?

I have played the oboe for 3 odd years and have studied clarinet for about 9. I also dabble in guitar and like to think I’m a pretty good singer myself.

You have an unusual name. Is Noah a family name with an interesting history (or perhaps you were born in a flood)?

Haha –  very funny, never heard that one before… anyway the name Noah was just a personal choice on my parents part, though my father did come from a Catholic background. My surname Peres however comes from the mountain in Ithaca, Greece – Mt Peristeris where my ancestors grew up. Or that is what I am told anyway.

Interviewer: Dawn Plasto

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Farewell to Roger Bartrop

roger-bartrop-for-blogOn 3 February, the Choir lost one of its most highly regarded members, when the bass section’s Roger Bartrop died of cancer.  He was 78.

Roger’s funeral was held on 13 February at a packed Roseville Uniting Church, where he and his Swiss-born wife, Sue, had been members of the congregation for many years. Sue is well-known within the Choir as a result of her frequent work as a front of house volunteer at Great Hall concerts. At Sue’s request, a group of some 25 Choir members attended the funeral and sang Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus, under Christopher Bowen’s direction.

Tributes to Roger were given by Sue, Roger’s son and daughter, Philip and Clare, and two academic colleagues from the medical profession, Dr Peter Zelas and Dr. Patrick Concannon.  Rev. Laurel Barr officiated.

The comments about Roger at the funeral mirrored the high regard in which the Choir held him.  Everyone talked about his willingness to be helpful and sympathetic and, in particular, of his concern to help troubled young people. Roger’s popularity in the Choir was not based on social gregariousness or ingratiation.  Rather, it reflected his gentle and generous personality and the good vibes he emitted.  I well remember the extraordinary efforts he made to offer comfort to Joan Whittaker, when she died in some misery in October 2006.

Roger Bartrop joined the Choir in 1994 and, while not a singer of outstanding gifts,  he loved music and was an enthusiastic chorister.  Without being in any way judgmental or sanctimonious, Roger ignored the whingeing and mischief-making practised regularly by the peanut gallery in the back row of the basses. Instead, he focussed on singing as well as he possibly could.

I shall carry with me one special memory of Roger.  In 2007, I suffered a stroke and was taken by ambulance to RNSH. On arriving at the parking area of the Emergency Department, the first thing I saw through the ambulance window was the wonderfully sympathetic and reassuring face of Dr Bartrop, who was on duty that day (the Sunday of a long weekend), with the task of keeping up patient morale..  I decided then and there that I was destined to survive.

Thank you, Roger!  God speed!

John Bowan

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Concert report – Die Schöpfung 4th December

For the final performance of its 2016 subscription series, the Sydney University Graduate Choir and orchestra, conducted by Music Director, Christopher Bowen, gave a Great Hall performance of Joseph Haydn’s Die Schöpfung (The Creation).

Three outstanding soloists were engaged: Penelope Mills (soprano), Andrew Goodwin (tenor) and Adrian Tamburini (bass).  They sang brilliantly as individuals but also made an exceptional team in the numerous concerted items Haydn had given them.

The orchestral playing demanded by the Austrian master is frequently complex and virtuosic. Fortunately, our excellent orchestral players were well up to the task. In the absence of our new Concertmaster, Kirsten Williams, who was on Porgy and Bess duty with the SSO, Lizzie Jones deputised with splendid results. The brilliant rendition of the Representation of Chaos, which opens the work, indicated that this was to be a special performance of Die Schöpfung. The violins and violas played with great dash and accuracy throughout. John Benz (cello) and Paul Laszlo (double bass) made some fine sounds at the lower end of the strings. The woodwinds have a prominent role in Haydn’s score and Principals Jacinta Mikus (flute), Duncan Thorpe (oboe), Deborah de Graaff (clarinet) and Gillian Smith (bassoon) were terrific.  There was fine playing in the brass with splendid sounds coming in particular from the trombones (Michael Wyborn, Ros Jorgensen, and Mitchell Nissen) and the trumpets (Melanie McLoughlin and David Pye).  Steve Machamer’s timpani were given a good workout, whilst continuo was provided by Diana Weston on harpsichord.

On a hot, sticky day, with conditions in the Great Hall less than ideal, the performance was received enthusiastically by the audience, which included our strong supporter, great soprano Joan Carden AO OBE.  Our Patron and recent fellow-chorister Professor The Hon. Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO was unable to be with us in person on this occasion but was represented by the impressive portrait painted by Jiawei Shen and exhibited among those of earlier university leaders on the wall of the Great Hall. Joan Carden mentioned, as she had in August 2007, when we last sang Haydn’s great work, that she had sung the soprano solo on a number of occasions but never in German.  She felt that the work benefitted from being performed in German.

Final judgment must await Greg Ghavalas’s recording but, from inside the Choir, this seemed to be one of our best performances.  The professional musicians and the Choir appeared to respond very well to Haydn’s combination of awe-inspiring grandeur and warm humanity.  David Moser, our President, spoke for many, when, in his post-performance message, he commented that the performance had increased his respect for Haydn’s music and floated the idea of performing Die Jahreszeiten (The Seasons), the composer’s other late, great oratorio, which we  had performed and thoroughly enjoyed in August 2009, again in the next couple of years.  To which, as van Swieten and Haydn might have said:  “Und Gott sah dass es gut war.Und es ward so.”

The Choir’s rehearsal period for the concert was shared with Handel’s Messiah, which was performed three weeks earlier.  This led to concern among some of us that we might be a little underdone, particularly in some of the complex passages, where Haydn has the chorus accompanying the soloists. But Christopher Bowen’s disciplined, focussed rehearsal work in the final couple of weeks and a valuable, if rather gruelling session with the orchestra the day before the concert served to clear out the cobwebs (the fact that a good number of us had also sung Die Schöpfung in 2007 was another plus factor).

The Choir’s performance was the subject of favourable comment immediately following the performance.  A member of the audience, whom I had invited, commented:  “I do envy your being able to be part of the creation of such glorious sound.  I’m not sure whether to say the soloists were great and didn’t let the Choir down, or vice versa’.(Given the terrific quality of the soloists, this is a huge, hyperbolic compliment to the Choir!). ‘And the orchestra was so good too.’

This was an uplifting event and a splendid ending to an excellent year, in which Christopher Bowen had introduced the Choir to unfamiliar composers in von Suppė and Heinichen, as well as giving us the opportunity to enjoy the familiar with Handel and Haydn.  Characteristically, he did not allow us to rest on our laurels, by emulating the quite decent “Schöpfung” performance of August 2007 but aimed for, and apparently succeeded in eliciting, a higher quality outcome.  Christopher “ist gross in seiner Macht und ewig bleibt sein Ruhm.”  But don’t tell him!

John Bowan

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Grads to perform The Creation by Joseph Haydn

After the high of singing Messiah with a massed choir in the Sydney Town Hall on 13 November, the Choir will be returning to its usual performance space, the Great Hall of the University of Sydney, to perform The Creation (Die Schöpfung) of Joseph Haydn, on Sunday, 4 December at 5.00 pm.  A fine trio of soloists will sing:  Penelope Mills (soprano), Andrew Goodwin (tenor) and Adrian Tamburini (bass).

After Messiah, Haydn’s great work may well be the most popular oratorio in the repertoire.  There are strong connections between the two works. Haydn’s interest in  oratorio was kindled by his attendance at a Handel Festival in London in 1791, which included performances of Messiah with enormous forces.  While in England, he was given a text based on Genesis and Milton’s Paradise Lost, which he took back to Vienna with him and gave to the music-loving Habsburg court official, Baron Gottfried van Swieten, to translate.  Van Swieten translated the text into German and translated his own translation back into English (the original English text having disappeared).  So Haydn’s work was published simultaneously in German and English.

The Creation is marked by a wonderful combination of the sublime and the human.  For example, the spectacular effect Haydn achieves on the words, “Let there be Light!”, exceeds in grandeur anything in Handel. At the other extreme, Haydn’s depiction of the relationship of Adam and Eve is warm and charming. Overall, the work is an outstanding product of the Age of Enlightenment. It promises to bring the Choir’s year of concert-giving to an uplifting close


John Bowan

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An apology to those followers of this blog who just received a post entitled ‘Sydney Sings Messiah 2016’. Due to an error in the publication process this post had appended to it several unreviewed and unedited paragraphs that appear to date from a similar performance several years ago.

Please ignore them – they have no relationship with last Sunday’s performance.

On the blog web site itself, the SSM 2016 post has been edited correctly, and stands.

We hope you enjoy the – correct – article!

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