Yelian He plays cello concerto with the Sydney Symphony

2015 is a pretty special year for me. It’s the first year I’ve spent experiencing the 30’s, the first time my cello was swabbed and searched instead of me in an airport, and it’s the first time I’ve performed a concerto without a conductor – and with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra to boot.


Speaking of, I must mention that all of these fantastic experiences happened during the month of May as a result of winning the inaugural Australian Cello Awards Grand Prize in 2014 (ACA Website, next competition in 2017). That was a highlight not soon forgotten in itself and I’m sure I’ll be hearing even greater things from CEO Roland Gridiger and his team at MOST. But as I was trying to say, my excitement grew endlessly (so too did practice) as my debut with the Sydney Symphony drew nearer.

On the way to my first rehearsal, I was nervous about what to expect. There have been times in the past where the concerts haven’t lived up to expectations owing to insufficient rehearsal time or difficulties in communication. When I arrived I was greeted by the Concertmaster Andrew Haveron before meeting the Orchestra for some one-on-one time with the Bach Concerto; this is when general & interpretational decisions are brought up so there are fewer surprises during rehearsal. It was clear from the start Andrew was confident and accommodating – vital qualities for a good musician, and a good human being.


A Concerto without a conductor is a trust building exercise, and it’s easy to lose your nerve or get too excited. There’s bound to be more communication between the musicians, leading to more ideas being aired, but you also better know the score intimately! Not only will there be questions from the orchestra, knowing how the 1st violins bow a particular sequence of quavers or how the cellos phrase another section makes all the difference in rehearsals and performances, all the while giving a brilliant unique interpretation of the work.

It’s not difficult when you play with a wonderful orchestra, to get carried away in the passion of a running passage and/or to indulge the slow movement so much everyone else thinks it’s like watching paint dry; it’s happened many times during my earlier years and I’m embarrassed to say that wasn’t too long ago, which is why I advocate discipline and self-control! Having said that, it doesn’t mean I’m to be lifeless on stage when not playing anything either. Here’s me and the SSO taking a couple of minutes off after the rehearsals to shred the piece we just spent hours rehearsing. (It’s definitely the SSO’s good nature that I’m allowed to get away with this…but what can I say? Music’s got to be enjoyed by the ones playing and the ones listening!


About two weeks prior the SSO’s website had listed the concert as SOLD OUT which meant the only chance of securing a ticket was to wait and chance it at the returns desk. As a performer the adoration of your audience is key! Don’t believe me? Try playing for a hall half-empty (or half-full depending on your philosophical bend) and tell me you don’t wish you’d have given more love and attention to them more often; for a concert organizer that’s also a great reason not to see you again any time soon. I’m sure both the Australian Cello Awards and the Sydney Symphony have worked very hard to push this concert to the public, and if anybody else was involved, I thank you sincerely for making all of this a fantastically memorable event!

A golden night for singing

Last night two Tait awardees; Lauren Fagan, Soprano 2013 and Lauren Zolezzi, Soprano 2012 sang the lead roles in the Guildhall School of Music & Drama double bill at the Silk Street Theatre, The Barbican.

Lauren Fagan, Soprano singing the Countess, The Marriage of Figaro 2012

Lauren Fagan appeared first in Debussy’s l’enfant prodigue. Her singing was of the highest standard, ravishing tone and an impeccable technique. Her performance as the despairing Mother was full of pathos…lovely. Lauren displayed a maturity of performance not often seen in student productions. We look forward to hearing her sing again in a TMT concert in 2014. Read more about Lauren here

Lauren Zolezzi stole the show in the second opera performed last night, Donizetti’s, Francesca di Foix. Glittering top notes, easy production and a stage presence that was simply divine. Earlier in the year Lauren sang in the first concert of the Trust series at the Foundling Museum, London and gave this interview

All in all it was a golden night for the Trust. Thrilling for us at the Tait Memorial Trust to see Lauren Fagan and Lauren Zolezzi performing to such a high standard in one of the most prestigious music schools in the world.

We are very grateful for the steadfast and loyal; support we receive from our many donors. Last night was their triumph.

Lauren Zolezzi, Soprano
Lauren Zolezzi, Soprano
Initially stepping onto the stage as a young ballerina, Australian born soprano Lauren Zolezzi has now moved into the world of opera and is at the outset of an exciting career.

In September 2012, Lauren took up her scholarship on the Opera Course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London under the tutelage of Susan Waters. Before that, Lauren completed her Master of Arts (Preparatory Opera) with Distinction and scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music, London. Her musical training alongside previous ballet training as well as her study of the Italian language, has led to a well-rounded performer who manages to capture the attention of audiences internationally.

Lauren has been most successful in many singing competitions and scholarships, having won over one hundred awards and scholarships over the years. Recently she won the National Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge Scholarship in Australia. Lauren also placed first in Sydney Eisteddfod open age Oratorio and Russian Song sections as well as the Lieder and Oratorio Sections (21-25 yrs).  She placed 3rd in both the Female Voices and the Operatic Aria Sections. Other scholarships and prizes include The Sainsbury Award at the Royal Academy of Music and The Marion Macaulay Bequest Scholarship for overseas study from the University of Sydney.

Lauren is an extremely busy performer both in the UK and Australia. Roles include Armida Rinaldo, Drusilla L’Incoronazione di Poppea, Despina Cosi’ fan tutte and Journalist 1 The Last King of Scotland, The Princess L’enfant et les sortilèges, Norina Don Pasquale, Sophie Der Rosenkavalier, Jano Jenufa, Melisande Pelleas et Melisande and Barbarina The Little Green Swallow (Dove) in Guildhall Opera Scenes.  She also performed the role of Barbarina Le Nozze di Figaro (GSMD) in February 2013 and covered the role of Susanna as well as receiving a solo recital of artsong at the Foundling Museum in London.

Before arriving in the UK she sang as soloist for the Australian ‘Opera and Arts Support Group’ soiree in Sydney Australia. During the 2008 World Youth Day celebrations, she sang to great acclaim as the featured soloist at the Evening Vigil liturgy with Pope Benedict XVI, held at Randwick Racecourse, Sydney. She was also featured soprano in a concert of excerpts from The Messiah at St Mary’s Cathedral in December 2008. Lauren was invited by the Honorary John Aquilina to perform at the National European Day ball held at Government House in 2008 to an audience of foreign representatives.

Lauren’s past featured operatic roles have included Naiad Ariadne auf Naxos and Ellen Lakme’ (Academy Opera Scenes). She also played the title role of Carmen in ‘Carmen – The Musical’ at the State Theatre and a member of the chorus for Dead Man Walking – The Opera at the Lyric Theatre in 2007. She partook in all of the Mid-Summer Operas held at the Conservatorium of Music from 2005-2008, in all of which she featured as a soloist performing roles such as Virtu’ L’Incoronazione di Poppea and Papagena Die Zauberflöte.

Lauren’s continued development is generously supported by the Tait Memorial Trust, the Opera and Arts Support Group Australia, The Worshipful Company of Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers, the Worshipful Company of Barbers and the Australian Government through the Australian Council of the Arts, it’s Arts Funding and Advisory Body.

Joan Sutherland & Richard Bonynge Foundation

We are delighted to have such a strong connection with the Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge Foundation .

For the past 36 year’s, the aim of this non-profit Australian organisation has been to raise money to help assist our most talented young opera singers fulfil their given potential. With the development of the Foundation in 2010 this has given us greater exposure and opportunities to expand on the activities the Society has presented since its inception in 1978. To date, we have awarded over $300,000 worth of scholarships and study grants and hope to further develop our involvement with these young singers by presenting masterclasses, workshops and a mentoring programme.

From the home page of the JS & RB Foundation website

2013 Tait Memorial Trust Prize winner, soprano Marlena Devoe from New Zealand

The Trust looks forward to meeting the 2013 Tait Memorial Trust Prize winner, soprano Marlena Devoe from New Zealand who will be offered a prestigious London concert platform as part of her prize from the Bel Canto Awards . Dame Joan Sutherland was one of our founding patrons and loyal supporters due to her long association with Sir Frank Tait ( Isla Baring’s father) the Tait family and J C Williamson’s. The Sutherland-Williamson tour of Australia in 1965 is legendary and was a fitting epitaph to the life of Sir Frank and the enterprise of the Tait brothers.

We wish the Joan Sutherland & Richard Bonynge Foundation well and salute the work they are doing in supporting emerging operatic talent in Australia.

Sabina Im, Concert Pianist – Royal College of Music, Master of Piano Performance Degree

The Tait Memorial Trust was created by Isla Baring OAM to support young emerging Australian Performing Artists who wish to study in the UK. I am listening to a recording of Sabina Im, the Tait Memorial Trust representative at the 2013 London Masterclasses where she met and worked with Norma Fisher and sat in on masterclasses with Benjamin Zander, Ralph Kirshbaum, Gyorgy Pauk and Rosalind Plowright, she is playing the Beethoven, Piano Sonata No. 17 in d minor, Op. 31. No. 2. Her performance of this famous piece is beautiful with a flowing technique and expression way beyond her years. Sabina Im is exactly the type of artist the Trust wants to support. We are delighted to hear that her career is blossoming.

Sabina is currently at home in Sydney and will be returning to London in the Autumn as she has been accepted into the coveted Master of Piano Performance Degree at the Royal College of Music, which will commence in September 2013.

“Thanks to this Tait Memorial Trust I met one of the greatest piano teachers in the UK. During my studies at the Royal College, I will be taking private lessons with Norma Fisher as well as learning from Andrew Zolinsky.”       Sabina Im. August 2013

Sabina Im, Concert Pianist
Sabina Im, Concert Pianist

Before her postgraduate studies commence in September, Sabina will be giving two recitals:

Theme & Variations Piano Services
451 Willoughby Road, Willoughby NSW 2068.

The first recital will be part of the Emerging Artist Series. Sabina will be giving a 40 minute recital on the 25th of August at 2:40pm. The program will be Schumann’s Carnaval Op.9 and Ginastera’s Danzas Argentinas, Op.2. This recital is open to the public.

The second recital Sabina will also be performing at the same location for the Theme and Variations Foundation on 1st of September. Sabina is one of four selected candidates who will be performing a 20 minute recital which is open to the public. Two successful candidates will be awarded $10 000 to support their studies.

All of us at the Tait Memorial Trust send Sabina our good wishes and we will be thinking of you and hope you win the AUD$10,000 prize. We will contact our Friends in the Tait Performing Association in Sydney and see if we can  provide some welcome support.

If anyone is interested in attending these performances, please let them know! Their support will be greatly appreciated!


Sabina has recently been accepted into the Master of Piano Performance Degree at the Royal College of Music, which will commence in September 2013. In 2012, Sabina graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance Degree with honors, on a full scholarship from the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, National University of Singapore. Under the tutelage of Albert Tiu, Sabina has given several solo and chamber recitals within Singapore. She has performed in masterclasses conducted by Norma Fisher, Cyprien Katsaris, Joseph Banowetz, Santiago Rodriguez, John Perry and Sara Buechner. Recently, Sabina was selected to take part in the London Masterclasses with a full scholarship provided by the Tait Memorial Trust. She has also been featured in the Artist Concert Series at the John F. Kennedy Center during the Washington International Piano Festival.

Prior to tertiary studies, Sabina commenced piano lessons with Dr. Christine Logan during her early teens. She was awarded a full music scholarship to study at St. Catherine’s School, Waverley. At the age of thirteen, Sabina gave her solo debut performance at the Sydney Opera House. Since then Sabina actively performed in notable venues such as the Metropolitan Art Space in Tokyo, Japan in 2005 and the University of New South Wales in 2006. Sabina has performed for prominent individuals such as the Korean ambassador and Sir Donald Spencer. In 2007, she was a guest performer in “Richard Tognetti with the Australian Chamber Orchestra Concert” at St. Catherine’s School Waverley. Sabina has also been invited to perform for radio broadcast stations in Sydney such as SBS Broadcast 97.7FM and 2MBS-FM 102.5FM Radio Station consecutively from 2002 till 2008. She has been successful in competitions within Sydney.

Inspired by the humble musicians such as Mitsuko Uchida and Alfred Brendal, Sabina strives to be a dedicated artist who persistently seeks a great depth in musicality. Uchida once said, “What really matters is that your love of music is stronger than your love for yourself.” Sabina aspires to search for a deep insight in music and create thought-provoking performances.

Sydney Chamber Opera, Owen Wingrave

The new production of Benjamin Britten’s television opera, Owen Wingrave is getting rave reviews from the press in Sydney.


Above a lovely article from the Sydney, Daily Telegraph and a review from Limelight here

The cast includes Tait Awardees, Morgan Pearse and Simon Lobelson. We are delighted to read the attached reviews and look forward, hopefully, to hearing a recording(?)

Morgan Pearse and Simon Lobelson.  Owen Wingrave SCO
Morgan Pearse and Simon Lobelson.
Owen Wingrave SCO

Morgan returns to London to sing at Wigmore Hall later this month. Bravo


Opera in two acts, Op. 85 by Benjamin Britten
Libretto by Myfanwy Piper


Australian Stage Premiere

Benjamin Britten is the most important British composer of the twentieth century, and is the greatest composer of opera in English. Based on a Henry James ghost story, Owen Wingrave is a statement of Britten’s lifelong pacifism. Composed during the Vietnam War, it is the story of a young soldier from an eminent military family whose anti-war instincts lead him to rebel against his upbringing. Desperate to keep his would-be bride and prove he isn’t a coward, he is forced to confront the ghosts of his ancestry.

The music is Britten at his refined, luminous best, with influences ranging from Gamelan to twelve-tone techniques. Imara Savage returns to Sydney Chamber Opera to direct the work’s Australian stage premiere.

Photography: Samuel Hodge

Jack Symonds
Imara Savage
Set & Costume
Katren Wood
Lighting Design
Jack Symonds
Imara Savage
Set & Costume
Katren Wood
Lighting Design
Ross Graham
Morgan Pearse, Georgia Bassingthwaighte, Rowena Cowley, Emily Edmonds, Paul Ferris, Pascal Herington, Simon Lobelson, Kornelia Perchy, boys’ choir, orchestra, and male movement ensemble
Date & Time
7.30pm Sat 3, Mon 5, Wed 7, Fri 9, Sat 10 August 2013
Carriageworks Bay 20, 245 Wilson St, Eveleigh
$60/$30 available here

The above details from the Sydney Chamber Opera site

Morgan Pearse, Baritone
Morgan Pearse, Baritone

Morgan Pearse site

Simon Lobelson, Baritone
Simon Lobelson, Baritone







Simon Lobelson site