The reviews are in for the world premiere of ‘The Monstrous Child’ by Gavin Higgins and Francesca Simon, a new production directed by Timothy Sheader and designed by Paul Wills, at the Linbury Theatre, The Royal Opera House. We are thrilled to see that #TaitAwardee, and Chair of the Tait Music Board, Jessica Cottis has received such glowing reviews for her work. Brava Jessica, we are so proud of you.
Isla Baring OAM, Chairman of the Tait Trust
“I had tickets for the opening night of The Monstrous Child, and it was sensational! Jessica Cottis was brilliant the way she handled this modern music, the incredible production, and the singers in this new opera. Bravo to Covent Garden at the newly refurbished Linbury Theatre. The reviews say it all! We are so proud of Jessica who is really making her way Up!! I am sure.”
“Jessica Cottis directs members of the Aurora Orchestra with incisive clarity, deploying her forces strategically, always mindful of the singers who must project Simon’s text without the help of surtitles. It’s no small praise to say that you hardly lose a word.”
Connor D’Netto set to shine in home state, in a year of major works!
We are thrilled to share this wonderful news about our 2017 -2019 Tait Scholar at the Royal College of Music. 25-year-old Brisbane-born composer – Connor D’Netto, was unveiled last week as this year’s Composer-in-Residence for the internationally famed Australian Festival of Chamber Music (AFCM) – and the youngest in the 29-year history of the event!
Under the leadership of acclaimed pianist and Artistic Director Kathryn Stott, the AFCM this year will feature five world premieres and five Australian premieres from composers around the world, and 40 of the best chamber musicians on the planet – including 15 international artists, five of whom are performing in Australia for the first time, and with D’Netto as the Composer-in-Residence, also at the festival for the first time
Taking over Townsville for 10 days of world-class music-making from Friday 26 July to Sunday 4 August, the AFCM will celebrate music from over 80 composers, 21 of whom are alive today. World premieres by D’Netto and fellow Australian composer Jessica Wells will feature.
AFCM’s 2018 promotional video
While D’Netto is making his AFCM debut, his music isn’t! Last year Australian musicians Claire Edwardes and Karin Schaupp premiered his vibraphone and guitar duet Brief Moments, which received a wonderful audience response.
“Over the moon is an understatement! It’s such an honour to be taking up this residency, one that has been held by some of Australia’s most celebrated composers whom I admire greatly. It’s such an incredible opportunity to work with so many of the world’s best soloists and chamber musicians, and I’m also really looking forward to working with the students at the Winterschool.”
Currently based in London studying his Master of Music at the Royal College of Music, D’Netto is proudly Brisbane born and bred – having lived at Wishart until his move to the UK capital in 2017.
And he is excited about the year ahead, one which sees world premieres of his works around the globe. Already he has composed a new piece for leading Australian songstress Katie Noonan for her upcoming album with the Australian String Quartet, The Glad Tomorrow, which sets the searing poetry of Australian writer and activist Oodgeroo Noonuccal to music (the album was recorded a few weeks ago and will premiere during the Queensland Music Festival in July).
Connor is also co-writing a ballet with fellow musician Matthew Lomax in London called Non-Place. A 50-minute work for dancers, chamber orchestra, electronics and visuals, inspired by French anthropologist Marc Augé’s writings on transience, anonymity and out-sense of individuality in public spaces, it’s a collaboration with London’s Central School of Ballet. To premiere on April 26 at the Britten Theatre, the score will be performed by chamber orchestra Cats Cradle Collective and conducted by António Breitenfeld Sá-Dantas – with both Matthew and Connor performing the electronics and visuals.
As for his musical muses and mentors, D’Netto says it’s a moving feast!
“If you asked me a couple of years ago, I’d have said the likes of John Adams and Steve Reich, a few years before that I’d say Barber, Bartok, Stravinsky, and before that it would have been some musical theatre composers, Jason Robert Brown for example, and film composers like Hans Zimmer. Now? Having fairly recently worked with Bang On A Can, I’m incredibly inspired by the work and works of Julia Wolfe, David Lang and Michael Gordon. Other contemporary composers include Unsuk Chin, Nico Muhly, Caroline Shaw, Kaija Saariaho and Donnacha Dennehy.”
“I also get as much from “popular” music artists as I do “classical composers” – from artists like Troye Sivan, Haim, Local Natives and CHVRCHES, to Sufjan Stevens, Blood Orange and Knower, bands like Palm, Grizzly Bear, Radiohead and Foals, and electronic artists like Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Autechre, Floating Points and Rival Consoles. And of course, where would I be without my composition teachers over the years, Stephen Stanfield, Robert Davidson and William Mival.”
ABOUT CONNOR D’NETTO
Connor D’Netto is a composer of contemporary classical music, described as “the model contemporary Australian composer” by ABC Classics. His music has been commissioned and performed across Australia and the world and in July this year, it will star at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music.
In 2017, he was selected for a fellowship with the prolific New York new-music collective Bang On A Can. His music was featured at Bang On A Can’s Summer Music Festival at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts (MASS MoCA), having travelled to the USA to take part in a three-week residency with the ensemble.
Two years before that, he was named winner of Chamber Music Australia’s Australian New Works Award, with his winning work, String Quartet No. 2, becoming the set work in the finals of the 7th Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition at the Melbourne Recital Centre. He has also been awarded an APRA Art Music Fund Award 2018, the Brisbane City Council’s Lord Mayor’s Young and Emerging Artists Fellowship 2018, a Brisbane Arts and Cultural Innovation Award 2017, the Percy Brier Memorial Composition Prize 2016, and the Donald Tugby Musicology Prize and Scholarship 2015.
He is also the artistic director, producer, and co-founder of the Brisbane-based contemporary classical concert series “Argo” and in 2018, was shortlisted as a finalist in the APRA AMCOS Art Music Awards in the “Excellence by an Individual” category for his artistic direction of Argo throughout its 2017 Concert Season.
As a performer, Connor is one half of “We Are Breathing” alongside American cellist Ben Baker. After the pair met in July 2017 when both were artists-in-residence at the MASS MoCA, they sought to collaborate on a project bringing together their various musical backgrounds spanning classical, folk and electronic music, their love of diverse musical styles from minimalism, electronica, alt-rock and jazz, and their drive to create art that breaks down the barriers between genres and audiences.
Connor is a trained classical bass, also a talented photographer, videographer and visual-artist, creating and shooting not only material for his music, but also for a number of other artists and musicians. He has a Bachelor of Music (Honours), graduating with First-Class Honours in 2016 from the University of Queensland. Connor is a Tait Trust Scholar at the Royal College of Music, where he is completing his Masters, with his studies further supported by the Australian Music Foundation Award, the Brisbane City Council Lord Mayor’s Young and Emerging Artists Fellowship, the Tait Performing Arts Association, a Churchie Foundation Scholarship, The Julian Baring Award and by the Big Give Campaign at RCM.
International Artists of the 2019 AFCM
Roberto Carrillo-Garcia (Double Bass++)
Rachael Clegg (Oboe)
Alexandra Conunova (Violin)
Amy Dickson (Saxophone)
Liza Ferschtman (Violin)
Pavel Fischer (Violin)
Martin Kuuskmann (Bassoon)
Yura Lee (Violin)
Wu Man (Pipa)
Johannes Moser (Cello)
Charles Owen (Piano)
Kathryn Stott (Piano)
Ruth Wall (Harp)
Australian Artists of the 2019 AFCM
Lotte Betts-Dean (Mezzo-Soprano)
Timothy Constable (Percussion)
Connor D’Netto (Composer-in-Residence)
Aura Go (Piano)
Ben Jacks (Horn)
Elizabeth Layton (Violin)
Christopher Moore (Viola)
Neal Peres de Costa (Harpsichord)
Timo-Veikko Valve (Cello)
Sally Walker (Flute)
Arcadia Winds (Wind Quintet)
David Reichelt (Oboe), Kiran Phatak (Flute), Lloyd Van’t Hoff (Clarinet) and Matthew Kneale (Bassoon)
Australian String Quartet
Dale Barltrop (Violin), Francesca Hiew (Violin), Sharon Grigoryan (Cello) and Stephen King (Viola – has been to AFCM previously)
David Griffiths (Clarinet), Svetlana Bogosavljevic (Cello) and Timothy Young (Piano)
Dates and Ticket Details
General public tickets, passes and holiday packages go on sale on Monday 25 February.
AFCM Friends have been able to purchase tickets since 3 December. The AFCM Friends program is new to 2019 – join now at afcm.com.au/friends.
Australian Festival of Chamber Music: 26 July – 4 August 2019 | Townsville, North Queensland
AFCM principal partners include; Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland and Arts Queensland, and Townsville City Council. The multi-award-winning Australian Festival of Chamber Music is recognised as a major event on the Tourism and Events Queensland calendar. The Queensland Government is proud to support the Australian Festival of Chamber Music through Tourism and Events Queensland as part of the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar. Queensland, just the place to experience Australia’s best live events.
For more information, artist interviews or imagery etc, please contact Kath Rose for the AFCM on 07 3357 9054 or 0416 291 493 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
We are delighted to announce that #TaitAwardees, Lauren Fagan, and Samantha Clarke are to sing major roles in Opera North’s production of La Boheme later this year. Lauren is to sing Mimi, Samantha the role of Musetta.
Lauren was generously supported by a grant from Trust donors, Michael Whalley OAM & Karen Goldie-Morrison for the duration of her advanced operatic studies in 2013 and 2014. This financial support assisted with her fees at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama where she was a member of the prestigious Opera Course. After graduation Lauren was offered a coveted place in the Jette Parker Young Artist Programme at the Royal Opera House which gave her two years of training as a junior principal.
A review of her recent appearances as Alcina with the Handel Festspiele, Karlsruhe, Germany.
“Unusually for Europe, the two main roles were sung by Australians, up-and-coming soprano Lauren Fagan and the more established countertenor, David Hansen. Fagan was a convincing sorceress from the very start, with a strong rich soprano, inducing sympathy in “Ombre pallide” as her shades desert her, spitting venom in the trio “Non è amor” and finally collapsing as all conspire to defeat her. ” Sandra Bowdler, 25 February 2019. Bachtrack.com
Samantha is a graduate of the Royal Northern College of Music and is supported by a grant from Tait donor, The Thornton Foundation and is currently in her second and final year at the Opera School at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama.
Samantha is also supported by the Countess of Munster Musical Trust, and was recently awarded the Nora Goodridge Developing Artist Award from the Australian Music Foundation
Samantha is a Baroness de Turckheim Scholar at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
“There was no lack of chemistry between him and Samantha Clarke as a pure-toned and vulnerable Anne Trulove. Her Act 1 aria “Quietly night” (with Ana Docolin’s beguiling bassoon) and florid cabaletta (with a fabulous closing top C) were both wonderful – her traversal from despair to determination utterly convincing.” David Truslove, 06 September 2018 | Bachtrack.com
Tonight Australian conductor (and Chair of the Tait Music Board) Jessica Cottis conducts the world premiere of Gavin Higgins and Francesca Simon‘s opera The Monstrous Child at the newly re-opened Linbury Theatre, Royal Opera House.
Directed by Timothy Sheader, designed by Paul Wills, with singers Marta Fontanals-Simmonds, Daniel Shelvey, Rosie Aldridge, Tom Randle, Lucy Schaufer, Graeme Broadbent, and Elizabeth Karani, and the Aurora Orchestra.
The Monstrous Child is the first opera by Gavin Higgins, a young British composer with a reputation for boldly imaginative music. The text is adapted by bestselling author Francesca Simon from her own darkly humorous novel. Puppetry and the inspiration of the Norse landscape contribute to this theatrical spectacle about one teenager trying to find her place in the world.
To learn more about this production and book tickets click here
World premieres, certainly from an Australian standpoint, don’t come much bigger than this! NED KELLY, composed by Luke Styles with libretto by Peter Goldsworthy and given birth here by Lost and Found as part of the 2019 Perth International Arts Festival.
Performed at the heritage listed No1 Mill at Jarrahdale the venue is an enormous 2 sided tin sawmill shed, and it is the first time this had been used as a performance space.
With an orchestra of 17 and instruments including banjo and branch of eucalyptus, the orchestra and performers were guided through this score (a fantastic melting pot of folk song and percussion) by the steady ever reliable hand of a proud Chris van Tuinen at the helm…..this was no easy feat given the barn like quality of the venue and distance between performers and players. The chorus, made up of singers from the community, sang and danced and seemed to be having much fun.
The cast did a mighty job! Amongst them, Adrian Tambourini was in fine voice as Joe Byrne, as was Fiona Campbell as Ellen, with other roles taken by Pia Harris, Robert Macfarlane and Matt James Ruben Ward. The role of Ned, is understandably big and Sam Dundas is towering and simpatico in the role. His voice is full and glorious in both sung and spoken text. I hope this opera is taken up elsewhere, it deserves to be and is an important addition to the Australian operatic canon….and everyone needs to see Sam as Ned.
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