Tuesday 28th February 2017
From 11am, Reception 6pm
Exhibition Hall, Australia House, Strand,
London, WC2B 4LA
A number of charities in the UK make an enormous contribution to the support of young Australians studying in the UK, to the promotion of educational and cultural exchanges between the UK and Australia, and to furthering the work of iconic Australian charities. The Australian Charity Art Auction will offer artworks by Australian artists or which feature Australian subjects and themes. The artworks will all have been donated from private collections, principally in the UK.
The artworks will initially be offered for on-line silent auction bidding throughout a two week period leading up to the final reception event, which is to be held at the Australian High Commission in London on Tuesday 28 February 2017. They will be on display for two days leading up to the event, and a small number, selected by the Advisory Committee, will be offered at the event by live auction, to be conducted by a Christie’s auctioneer
Passion in the Salon | Leighton House
Monday 6th March 2017
12 Holland Park Road, London, W14 8LZ
7 for 7.30pm
Join Ross Alley for the 4th Concert in the Salon.
Featuring our current Tait Awardees
Tait Friends | Stoke Lodge
Wednesday 3rd May 2017
45 Hyde Park Gate, London, SW7 5DU
6 for 6.30pm
Our 4th annual Friends event at Stoke Lodge. Courtesy of the Australian High Commissioner, HE The Hon. Alexander Downer AC, and Mrs Nicola Downer AM
Reflecting upon our 5th Tait Winter Prom and our rapidly approaching quarter century, I feel overwhelmed by the wonderful support and goodwill we had for this event, as for all of them since our very first concert with Liane Keegan at Australia House in 1992. A major Australian scholarship holder, Liane‘s arrival in the UK in that year prompted me to think about how we might set about trying to help talented young Australians arriving to study and work in Europe, and thus the Tait Memorial Trust was born.
2016 was another big and busy year for us, with three successful events, in addition to the Winter Prom. In the 2016/17 UK academic year 19 young artists will receive assistance from us, of awards totalling £40,000, which is more than triple the sum of only three years ago. Especially pleasing is the support of young dancers through the Leanne Benjamin Awards, and we look forward to extending our relationships with individuals and corporations who recognise the challenges facing very young Australian dancers leaving home and family to follow their dreams.
We also acknowledge a generous bequest from the Estate of Lady Mackerras, which will guarantee a ten year sponsorship of an orchestral chair for an Australian musician, in the Southbank Sinfonia, in the name of Sir Charles Mackerras. Heartfelt thanks to their daughter, Cathy, for appreciating and continuing the encouragement her father and mother always warmly extended to us.
The Trust has been honoured with such generous and continuing support and friendship from HE The Hon. Alexander Downer, High Commissioner for Australia, and his wife Nicola, who were our guests of honour at the Prom. With the help of a new enthusiastic and hard-working Tait Artistic Planning Committee, we again formed a near all-Australian chamber orchestra, a number of whom have been supported by the Trust in their studies. Our conductor Jessica Cottis, who is chairing this committee, is fast gaining recognition internationally for her work, and we are so very lucky to have her inspirational guidance as we continue to support the next generation of talented young Australians who come here to complete their studies.
We dedicated our first work, Mozart‘s Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra K364 to our much loved Patron, The Dowager Countess of Harewood, on the occasion of her 90th Birthday. Once a professional violinist herself, this has special meaning for her. We are so grateful for Lady Harewood’s patronage over much of our 25 years – that she has wanted to share our cause has been very gratifying, and immensely helpful to us. A very happy 90th Birthday!
We are also deeply indebted to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, who have been our Principal Partner for the past three years. We hope, as they see the important work we do for the young Australians in this highly competitive arts marketplace here, that their very welcome support will continue.
Chevalier Richard Gunter has once again generously sponsored our venue, this time the marvellous St John‘s Smith Square, and to our many individual sponsors and loyal supporters, all of whom we gratefully acknowledge below: we are so pleased to see your sponsorship growing year-on-year – we can‘t do without you!
Please continue to help us in any way you can (Click here for further information). Next year is our 25th anniversary and our work goes on! Happy Christmas, we look forward to seeing you in the New Year.
Isla Baring OAM
The Tait Memorial Trust
Tait Winter Prom Angels
Chev. Richard Gunter (Hire of the Hall)
The Hon. Sarah Joiner (Programme printing)
Mrs Jan Gowrie-Smith (Conductor)
The Linbury Trust
The Bernays Trust
Mr Kerry Rubie
Lady Rosa Lipworth CBE
Dame Norma Major DBE
Mrs Pamela Le Couter
Mr Patrick Kennedy
Mrs Lyn Robertson
Mr & Mrs J Bryant
Mr Christin Odey
Supported the Orchestra
Mr Peter Box
Mrs Katherine Scholfield
Mrs Lynette Braithwaite
The Hon. Susan Baring OBE
Mrs June Mendoza AM OBE
Countess of Portsmouth
Mr Henry Lumley
The Hon. Mrs Patricia Wyndham
Australia Day Foundation
Royal Over-Seas League
Australian Women‘s Club, London
The Cook Society
Roses Only UK
Raffle Prize donors
West Green Opera
Bobby Williams, Video
Hannan Images, Photo
Artistic Planning Committee
The Tait Chamber Orchestra
The Tait Committee
The Sidney Nolan Trust
We are very grateful for the support that we receive from
Commonwealth Bank of Australia
Tait Grainger Patron £10,000+
Julian Baring Family*
The Estate of Lady Mackerras*
Tait Sutherland Benefactor £5,000+
Sir David & Lady Higgins*
Mr John Frost AM*
Tait Bonynge Partner £3,000+
The Estate of Peggy Haim
Tait Helpmann Circle £1,000+
Mrs Jan Gowrie-Smith
Chevalier Richard Gunter
Mr & Mrs David Hunter
Mr Albert Kwok & Mrs Stephanie McGregor
Mr Andrew Loewenthal & Ms Eugenie White*
The Thornton Foundation
Mrs Margaret Rodgers
Mrs Jacqueline Thompson & Mr Damian Walsh
Mr Michael Whalley
Ms Karen Goldie-Morrison*
Ms Louise Worthington*
VEC Acorn Trust
TMT Frank & Viola Friends £500+
Mr Julian Agnew
Mr & Mrs Christopher Braithwaite
Mr Hugh Bayne
Tait Amis Supporter £250+
Mr John Coke
The Hon. Sarah Joiner
Mrs Anne Longdon
Mr & Mrs Jan Pethick
Mr Kerry Rubie
The Hon. Sir R. Storey Bt CBE
TMT Friends £75+
Miss Marylyn Abbott
Mr Eric Adler
Mrs June Allison
Ms Ariadne Jane Baring
The Hon. Mark Baring
The Hon. Susan Baring OBE
Mrs Nina Bialoguski
Mr Lindsay Birrell
Ms Sue Bradbury
Viscountess Harriet Bridgeman
Mrs Diana Burley
Mrs Lorraine Buckland
Mrs Jane Butter
Mr Marcus Clapham
Mrs Sandra Clapham
Mr John Crisp
Ms Fay Curtin
Mr Roger Davenport
Mrs Anne Davidson
Mrs Celeste Ekerick
Mr Edward Field
Dr Rodney Foale
Miss Rosemary Frischer
Mr Phillip Hart
Dr John Keets
Mr Patrick Kennedy
Mr Martin Kramer
Mrs Wendy Kramer
Lady Rosa Lipworth CBE
Mr Henry Lumley
Miss Joanna McCallum
Ms Sue McGregor
Ms Lisa Orlov
Ms Mary Rayner
Mr John Rendall
Ms Jacqueline Rowlands
Ms Katherine Scholfield
Mr Ian Tegner
Mrs Annette Thorp
Rev John Wates OBE
*Adopt a Performer
The Australian Charity Art Auction is an event that will be taking place at Australia House on 28 February 2017. We are delighted to be supporting the event. Both before and at the event more than 50 Australian artworks will be auctioned in aid of a number of much loved and very worthwhile UK based charities that have Australian connections.
There will be an on-line silent auction over the two weeks leading up to the event (starting on Wednesday 15 February) and a live auction conducted by a Christie’s auctioneer at the event itself.
The event will also feature a reception and a concert performed by some wonderful Australian singers, musicians and music scholars.
Jakab Kaufmann is a successful bassoonist from Sydney now based in Europe. He trained as an orchestral musician and a conductor in Sydney before moving to Basel where he studied early music at the renowned Schola Cantorum Basiliensis.
Now living in Bern, he has established himself as a freelance musician working with ensembles and orchestras in Switzerland, Germany and the UK, playing on both modern and historical instruments. One of his upcoming ventures is a new, innovative production of Rameau’s Pygmalion with his colleagues in the London-based Ensemble Molière. Speaking to Jakab, I asked him about his work and this exciting new project:
How does an orchestral musician make the leap to specialising in early music, particularly after studying to be a conductor?
While I was studying conducting at the Sydney Conservatorium, I was asked to play baroque bassoon for the early music ensemble’s performance of Gluck’s “The Pilgrims to Mecca.” I’d never played this instrument before and I thought it sounded horrible but once I braved the potential embarrassment of playing in front of other people, I discovered the incredible resonance within an ensemble. I started playing more and more and learned to love the difficulties of playing such a different instrument. There seemed to be so much to learn and enjoy from playing music on an instrument so distantly related to the one I’d previously dedicated my life to.
Like so many Australian musicians you decided to move overseas. I am interested to know why you chose Switzerland? Was it your first choice?
I decided a long time ago that I wanted to move to the German speaking world and in 2011, I attended a summer school at the Humboldt University in Berlin. I spent a month there improving my German and I still have a soft spot for that city. My path changed however and whilst I still entertain the idea of returning to conducting someday, my goal quickly re-focussed on being a well-rounded musician in whatever form it took. I flew to Europe in 2013 and travelled around, doing masterclasses on both modern and baroque bassoons, and visiting different teachers until I decided on Basel and its famous Schola were perfect for me. It’s a very international school with a great balance of academic research and performance-based projects. The community is very positive and creative, which lead to some great friendships and fantastic opportunities.
The UK can be quite a distant world to the continent without the right connections. How did you began to work here?
I attended the Dartington International Summer School’s Baroque Orchestra Programme with a scholarship in 2013. The environment there is so open and relaxed that it’s conducive to amazing opportunities. I made friends with many different musicians there, including established professional musicians who have been able to organise projects with me. In addition to various audition processes, I’ve also reconnected with a lot of friends from Sydney who have moved to the UK. The life of a freelance musician is very much dependant on who you know and luckily, some lovely people have helped me get my name out there.
As a founding member of the young early music group, Ensemble Molière could you tell me about your work and the repertoire you play?
We first played together in this combination in 2014 at the Dartington International Summer School and the first piece we played was the “Deuxième récréation de musique” by Jean-Marie Leclair. That experience made us realise that we worked well as an ensemble and that we all wanted to play more French music. Since then we’ve gone on to perform concerts in Brighton, Graz, Bruges and Utrecht, as well as more regular concerts in London.
We were lucky enough to participate in the Brighton Early Music Festival’s Early Music Live! Scheme in 2015 and we were invited to return for our own concert in the 2016 Festival. We’ve expanded our repertoire and recorded our music and we’re always looking for opportunities to push the boundaries of the modern-concert programme.
French music retains an element of mystery today and I was curious as to why you think we don’t see enough of it on today’s concert programmes:
When you study music in English and German-speaking schools, French music before Debussy rarely gets a look in. The truth is, Paris has played a more important role in music than Vienna or London at various points throughout history. For example, in the Middle Ages, the French-speaking world was essentially the musical centre of Europe. That changed with the printing press, the migration of Netherlandish musicians to Italy, and of course, the reformation.
However, the French court at Versailles was an incredible force for artistic support and the “French Baroque” led to some of the most unique music this world has ever known. Because of the rivalry with the Italians and the influence of kings like Louis XIV, French musicians played very different instruments in a very different way. The wind instruments were built in another way, the string players used different bows, and the keyboard instruments had their own designs. The performers would also use very individual ornaments, which some composers like Couperin took the time to write down with full explanations. The music itself is sometimes harmonically dissimilar to the German high-baroque masters that people tend to think of and it can also feel more static than the repetitive patterns of the Venetians like Vivaldi. I think this is why performers have, in the past, neglected the nuanced and delicate sounds of France. The good news is that French music is constantly being rediscovered!
Your upcoming project at festivals in London and Brighton will see a new take on French Opera.Could you tell me a bit about the project’s background?
As our first large-scale project, we wanted to explore a genre that is not commonly addressed by chamber groups but is incredibly important to the French Baroque: Opera. Rameau’s greatest contributions to music include his solo keyboard works, his theoretical writings and his many operas. The forces required to perform them are so large that most opera companies don’t stage his works too often. As a result, his music doesn’t get heard often enough. We thought we would bring one of his shorter operas, at 45 minutes, to the people with a more accessible medium with a smaller ensemble on stage.
Rameau’s Pygmalion is based on the original Greek legend of a sculptor who falls in love with his own creation. Most people today would be more familiar with the George Bernard Shaw version which came much later, and led to the even-more popular “My Fair Lady.” We’ve teamed up with artist Kate Anderson and director Karolina Sofulak to present a live performance of the opera with animation and simplified surtitles, so as to make it accessible and enjoyable for everyone.
I would be interested to know about what stage the project is in? What are your plans for such an ambitious undertaking, how are they progressing and how can audiences can help?
We’re still at the funding stage which is looking very promising. We will be applying to the Arts Council for a grant to make the project happen once we’ve secured enough funding from other sources. We’ve started a crowdfunder to collect an initial investment of £3000 by 9th January. This would show the Arts Council that we have support from both the artistic and wider community for this project. We’ve been offering rewards ranging from Thank-You tweets right up to private concerts in peoples’ homes. If you’d like to contribute, the crowdfunder site with a video explaining the project can be found here: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/ensemble-moliere. Any help is always appreciated as we’re very passionate about getting this project off the ground and onto the stage.
As you can see, Jakab is dedicated to expanding the confines of the contemporary musical experience. We wish him and his ensemble all the best for this exciting project. We are thrilled to see Australian musicians like himself pushing the boundaries and we can’t wait to see where his career takes him next.
Please click hereif you would like to be a part of Rameau’s, Pygmalion, with Ensemble Molière
Viola, Lady Tait’s zest for life was an inspiration. These qualities remained with her always together with a remarkable memory, clarity of mind and youthful outlook. With a prodigious vocal talent she excelled in the operas of Gilbert & Sullivan, beginning as a chorister with the Carl Rosa Company in the United Kingdom, graduating to the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, and was given a year’s contract as principal soprano. Accepting a contract to tour Australia in 1940, she was to meet and marry her future husband, Frank Tait.
She was a champion of new and emerging talent, adjudicating for numerous scholarships and awards both in Australia and overseas. As an adjudicator for The Mobil Quest in 1950, Viola was instrumental in launching Joan Sutherland’s career. This passion for supporting young artists continued throughout her life, in 1992 she inspired her daughter, Isla Baring, to organise a fundraising concert in support of a young Australian singer, Liane Keegan, who was newly arrived in London. It kicked off with a Christmas Concert at Australia House. The concert was a great success and became the foundation of our yearly events. Liane went on to have a major international career, she sang Erda in the recent Opera Australia, Ring Cycle.
In 1984, the Performing Arts Collection, housed at the then newly opened Victorian Arts Centre, received a significant donation from Lady Tait of 300 costume designs by leading European theatrical designers of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods. The designs had been imported for use in re-staging productions in Australasia by the commercial theatre management J.C. Williamson Ltd and its forerunners.
Another of her loves was writing and researching Australian theatrical history. She amassed a formidable collection of theatrical memorabilia and was the author of The Family of Brothers(1971), which chronicled the contribution of the Tait brothers to Australian theatre.
Her last book, Dames, Principal Boys and all that: A History of Pantomine in Australia (2001) was lavishly launched at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne, the home of the Tait-Williamson empire. When Viola’s death was announced the illuminated sign outside the Theatre read “Farewell Lady Tait, Star”.
Viola Wilson (1938-39)
Source: The Gilbert & Sullivan Archive
[Born Pressburg, Austria-Hungary 1 Nov 1911, died Melbourne, Australia 6 Feb 2002]
Viola Wilson, whose real name was Viola Hogg, studied singing for six years at the Scottish National Academy of Music. In 1935 she was engaged by the Carl Rosa Opera Company and sang in the chorus of Die Fledermaus at the Lyceum Theatre, London. After tours of the British Isles and South Africa, she graduated to principal soprano.
Upon returning to London she auditioned with D’Oyly Carte Opera Company and was given a year’s contract as principal soprano, taking Viola Wilson (her maternal grandfather’s name) as her stage name at Rupert D’Oyly Carte’s suggestion. From May 1938 to June 1939 she appeared with the Company as Patience in Patience, Phyllis in Iolanthe, Yum-Yum in The Mikado, and Gianetta in The Gondoliers. Three of these parts were shared with other artists at various times: Patience and Phyllis with Ann Drummond-Grant until December 1938, and Gianetta with Helen Roberts. Miss Wilson also appeared on occasion in 1938-39 as Rose Maybud in Ruddigore and Elsie Maynard in The Yeomen of the Guard. She left the D’Oyly Carte in June 1939.
Viola Wilson then accepted an offer from Nevin Tait, J. C. Williamson’s London director to tour Australia and New Zealand in the Gilbert & Sullivan operas. In the 1940-42 Williamson tour she appeared as Aline in The Sorcerer, Josephine in H.M.S. Pinafore, Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance, Casilda in The Gondoliers, Princess Ida in Princess Ida, Rose, Patience, Phyllis, and Elsie. While in Australia, she met and married Frank Tait, later Sir Frank, the youngest of the five Tait brothers who were then running the Williamson Company. She retired as a singer in 1946 but remained involved with the Williamson Company, serving for a time as an artistic director.
Following Sir Frank Tait’s death in 1965, Lady Viola Tait, as she was then known, wrote an informal history of the Williamson-Tait partnership. In “A Family of Brothers: The Taits and J. C. Williamson; a Theatre History” (William Heinemann, Melbourne, 1971) she also provides a good deal of information about her own life and career.
Lady Tait retained her interest in the performing arts thoughout her life and was a patron of many arts organizations, including the Tait Memorial Trust. She was instrumental in the establishment of the Performing Arts Museum in Melbourne, and was appointed a member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1990. In her later years she published a book on the history of pantomime in Australia, “Dames, Principal Boys…and All That” (Macmillan, Melbourne, 2001)
The Tait Memorial Trust was formed in 1992 by Isla Baring and the Trustees to honour the enormous contribution that Isla’s father, Sir Frank Tait, and his four older brothers had made to the arts in Australia. The Tait brothers; Charles (1868-1933), John Henry (1871-1955), James Nevin (1876-1961), Edward Joseph (1878-1947) and Sir Frank Samuel (1883-1965), concert, film and theatrical entrepreneurs, were five of the nine children of John Turnbull Tait (1830-1902), a tailor from Scalloway, Shetland Islands, Scotland, and his English wife Sarah, née Leeming. Tait migrated to Victoria in 1862 and settled at Castlemaine where he married Sarah. Charles, John, Nevin and Edward were born there and educated at Castlemaine State School. About 1879 the family moved to Richmond, Melbourne, where Frank was born. Edward and Frank attended Richmond State School; Frank later studied at Melbourne Church of England Grammar School.
The brothers’ earliest presentations centred on the Athenaeum Hall in Collins Street. Their concerts often included popular, short, film screenings and this interest led them to join with Millard Johnson and William Gibson in the production of The Story of the Kelly Gang which premièred on 26 December 1906. Running for more than an hour, it was the longest narrative film yet seen in Australia, and possibly the world. It was directed by Charles Tait and much of the film was shot on his wife’s family’s property at Heidelberg; his wife (who played the role of Kate Kelly), children and brothers all took part. The film, which cost £1000, was extremely successful, and was said to have returned at least £25,000 to its producers.
In 1902 John, Nevin and Frank founded J. & N. Tait, concert promoters. Charles, while remaining with Allan’s, guided the business, and Edward, still with Williamson, watched from the sidelines. Nevin made his first trip to London in 1903 and engaged a number of celebrity artists to tour Australia, including the Welsh Male Choir, soprano Madame Albani, violinists Haydn Wood and Marie Hall, and (Dame) Clara Butt with her husband Kennerley Rumford. Nevin’s further forays resulted in tours by the Royal Besses o’ th’ Barn Band, Emma Calvé, the Cherniavsky Trio, John McCormack and Harry Lauder.
The Taits presented world famous celebrities such as Melba, Chaliapin, Flagstad, Pavlova, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, Paderewski, Harry Lauder, Oistrakh, Margot Fonteyn, Menuhin, Marcel Marceau, Gracie Fields, Kreisler, Heifetz, Danny Kaye, Victor Borge, Katherine Hepburn, Sir Robert Helpmann; the musicals My Fair Lady, Oklahoma, South Pacific, The Pajama Game and many others. They brought out the Shakespeare (Stratford) and Old Vic Companies, and toured the Borovansky Ballet, not to mention all the Gilbert and Sullivan operas.
The Taits, Johnson and Gibson merged their film interests in 1911 to form Amalgamated Pictures which continued to produce features and newsreels. Amalgamated combined with its main opposition, Australasian Films, in 1912, and the Taits then concentrated their energies on concert presentation and occasional film exhibition.
In 1913 J. & N. Tait took a twenty-year lease on a prominent site in Collins Street and constructed a large, luxurious concert-hall, the Auditorium, which opened in May with a gala concert by Butt and Rumford. It was used by the Taits as their principal concert venue until 1934 when it was remodelled and leased to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Edward—’E.J.’—had maintained his involvement with J. C. Williamson Ltd (affectionately known as ‘the Firm’). He became business manager in 1911 and general manager in 1913, following Williamson’s death. Strained relations with (Sir) George Tallis and Edward’s continuing close association with his brothers’ activities made his position difficult: he left Williamson’s in 1916 and joined J. & N. Tait, looking after their affairs in Sydney. A few months later Nevin moved permanently to London to act as their overseas ‘anchor’. J. & N. Tait now expanded to include theatrical presentations and challenged Williamson’s domination of Australian live theatre. The Taits’ first production was Peg o’ my Heart, a comedy romance which proved highly popular. Other plays, pantomimes and musicals followed.
In 1920 the J. & N. Tait and J. C. Williamson interests combined, with J. & N. Tait continuing as a separate company to promote celebrity artists. Over the next two decades many of the world’s greatest concert and stage stars appeared in Australia under the Williamson/Tait aegis, among them Melba, Galli-Curci, dal Monte, Chaliapin, John Brownlee, Heifetz, Percy Grainger, Paderewski, Menuhin and Pavlova.
Alert to the early possibilities of wireless, the Taits in 1924 formed on behalf of J. C. Williamson Ltd the Broadcasting Co. of Australia Pty Ltd which was granted the licence for 3LO radio in Melbourne. When 3LO came under the control of the government-franchised Australian Broadcasting Co., Williamson’s, with Allan’s and the Age newspaper, were granted a licence to operate 3AW which went on air in 1932 from studios in His Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne. Later, a modern studio complex was built in La Trobe Street.
‘The Firm’s’ theatrical headquarters were located in the Comedy Theatre, Melbourne, from where they controlled a network of theatres across Australia and New Zealand. An attempt to extend their theatrical production activity to London in 1928-29 failed, but their pre-eminence in the theatrical and concert field in Australia and New Zealand remained unchallenged.
The Depression brought hard times for the Taits. Both the Theatre Royal, Melbourne, and His Majesty’s, Sydney, were sold for redevelopment; His Majesty’s, Melbourne, partly burnt out in 1929, did not reopen until 1934. Charles died in Sydney on 27 June 1933 of hydronephrosis and was buried with Anglican rites in Springvale cemetery, Melbourne. His estate was sworn for probate at £19,404. ‘The Firm’ survived both the Depression and a short period in 1938-39 when the Taits temporarily lost control of the business to New Zealand-based interests. They kept their theatres open through the war years by staging revivals of past successes and sending their evergreen Gilbert and Sullivan Co. on tour.
Although the Australian Broadcasting Commission began its own programme of celebrity concert artists, many continued to appear for J. & N. Tait, including Gracie Fields, Marjorie Lawrence, Jan Peerce, David Oistrakh and Marian Anderson. Williamson theatres hosted tours of companies led by Cicely Courtneidge, Anthony Quayle, Vivien Leigh and (Sir) Robert Helpmann. Among the major musicals presented by ‘the Firm’ after World War II were Annie Get Your Gun, Oklahoma!, Camelot, My Fair Lady and Oliver!
Two of the brothers died in the post-war decade: Edward of cancer at Point Piper, Sydney, on 12 July 1947 and John—’the grand old gent of the theatre’—at his Malvern home in Melbourne on 23 September 1955. Both were cremated. Their estates were sworn for probate in Victoria at £22,427 and £66,979 respectively.
On 7 March 1961 Nevin died in London, leaving an estate valued at £72,886. His wife Bess Norriss had won a reputation as a miniature portraitist. Born in Melbourne, she had studied at the National Gallery of Victoria School of Art before setting up a studio in London. In 1907 she was made a member of the Royal Society of Miniature Painters. She exhibited at the Royal Academy, the Paris Salon and on return visits to Australia. Examples of her work are in the galleries of New South Wales and Victoria, and in the Royal Collection.
The last of the brothers, Frank, was knighted in 1956. His dream to present Joan Sutherland in her homeland was fulfilled. At the close of her triumphant season, he died at Portsea on 23 August 1965. Survived by his wife and three daughters from each of his marriages, he was cremated. His estate was valued for probate at £121,743. Following his death, ‘the Firm’s’ fortunes faded. Production ceased in 1976, and its theatres were sold.
For over seventy years the Taits had combined to bring to Australians some of the best of the world’s musical and theatrical attractions. While their philosophy of quality entertainment, well presented, rarely failed to win audiences, they sometimes resorted to jaded revivals of popular musical comedies. Although they were criticized for not encouraging local talent, they did provide—without any form of government subsidy—employment and experience for thousands of singers, musicians, actors and backstage personnel, and lifted the standard of Australian theatre.
Frank Tait helped form the Australian Ballet, and was Chairman of the Board until his death. In 1957, he was made a Knight Bachelor by the Queen in recognition of the major contribution he and his brothers had made in their dedication to Australian theatre. It was Sir Frank’s ambition to present Dame Joan Sutherland to the Australian public after her international acclaim. The Sutherland Williamson Opera Company was formed in 1963. As Artistic Director Richard Bonynge engaged a team of world renowned principals and internationally successful Australian artists. One of the principals was Luciano Pavarotti, a young tenor from Modena; the chorus was Australian. There was no government subsidy and the fate of Williamson’s future rested on the success of the venture.
Sir Frank lived to see his ambition fulfilled. The triumphant Melbourne opening heralded the return of Dame Joan to her homeland: it was a season never to be forgotten. He died at the age of 81 after the Melbourne season finished and while the company were in Adelaide. It was the end of an era in the history of Australian theatre. In Richard Bonynge’s words, “Sir Frank Tait has done the greatest service to Australian Theatre and to the arts of anyone we know”
Largely drawn with thanks from Australian Dictionary of Biography here
C. Kingston, It Don’t Seem a Day Too Much (Melb, 1971)
V. Tait, A Family of Brothers (Melb, 1971)
J. West, Theatre in Australia (Syd, 1978)
A. Pike and R. Cooper, Australian Film, 1900-1977 (Melb, 1980).
Wonderful article published in Limelight Magazine about Brian Castles-Onion’s quest to save and share the recordings from Australia’s operatic past. Volume 1 sold out (let’s hope they press some more CDs). These recordings have particular significance for the Trust as Isla Baring’s father, Sir Frank Tait, produced this tour as part of the JC Williamson/ Sutherland Opera Company. It was Sir Frank’s ambition to present Dame Joan Sutherland to the Australian public after her international acclaim. The Sutherland Williamson Opera Company was formed in 1963. Richard Bonynge as Artistic Director engaged a team of world renowned principals and internationally successful Australian artists. One of the principals was Luciano Pavarotti, a young tenor from Modena. The chorus was all Australian. There was no government subsidy and the fate of Williamson’s future rested on the success of the venture.
Sir Frank lived to see his ambition fulfilled. The triumphant Melbourne opening heralded the return of Dame Joan to her homeland. It was a season never to be forgotten. In Richard Bonynge’s words: “Sir Frank Tait has done the greatest service to Australian Theatre and to the arts of anyone we know.”
Sir Frank died at the age of 81 after the Melbourne season finished and while the company were in Adelaide. It was the end of an era in the history of Australian theatre.
We are thrilled that Maestro Castles-Onion has produced a professionally mastered collection of recordings, not only of the Tour but also of Robert Allman, June Bronhill & Nance Grant. It truly is a remarkable achievement.
The opera conductor has taken on the task of ensuring that these Aussie greats are not forgotten.
Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by many singers of celebrity. These famous names were not only on record – having collected opera recordings from the age of four – but also personal friends. Over two decades ago, when I first realised the need to preserve old tapes to CD format, I wrote to four dozen singers who had performed in Australia in the decades since the 1940s, asking if they had any ‘recordings’ of themselves. Most of these Australian-born singers had never been offered the luxury of studio recordings and the only captures of their voices and artistry were from ‘live’ performances on tape. These primitive sound relics, which have lain silent for decades, hold a wealth of wonderful voices, which are our operatic history!
La Sonnambula from the Sutherland- Williamson Grand Opera Season of 1965. Photo from Brian Castles-Onion’s Private Collection
Three years ago, I commenced the Great Australian Voices series on Désirée Records in the hope that future generations would have the opportunity to hear how their musical ancestors sounded, what they sang, how they sang, who they sang with and what they thought about their roles.
So far, Nance Grant, Robert Allman and June Bronhill have each been honoured with 3CD sets. Nance and Bob were close friends for many years. Bob eventually became like an uncle and we spoke daily. I knew his thoughts and opinions on the world of opera – then and now – and he was the obvious choice for the premiere set of the series. He was the greatest Australian baritone of his era at a time when we boasted also the voices of John Shaw and Raymond Myers! His voice and art had not been captured in the recording studio… a profound oversight.
The first CD release set the format – a complete audio coverage from the earliest broadcasts in singing competitions to the ‘final’ stage performance; an accurate biography containing important casts and dates; personal thoughts on favourite roles and colleagues, with rare photographs on and off-stage. Even their favourite colour has been chosen for the cover and CD artwork! The Allman set was completed and came from the manufacturer two weeks before his untimely death. Bob had the pleasure of knowing that his operatic career had been preserved to be heard by future generations.
Nance Grant was one of the greatest of all Australian sopranos. Christian Thielemann told me personally that he considered her to be one of the three greatest Sieglindes he’s ever heard on record. (High praise for a singer who never had the opportunity to sing outside Australia!) Her final performance shows her shining on high Ds with a Nilsson-like brilliance in arrangements created for Joan Sutherland.
June Bronhill’s recording career was extensive but her ‘opera’ career had not been documented. Unlike the previous releases, I was unable to interview her in person because she died in 2004 and her autobiography does not show what I believe to be the ‘real’ Bronhill. Despite this, I contacted a dozen friends and colleagues who had known her and succeeded in producing what has been called the ‘definitive Bronhill biography’.
The long-awaited release of the Sutherland-Williamson Grand Opera Season of 1965 has been enormously popular. The excerpts on this 4CD set, recorded in less-than-studio conditions, display the essence of Sutherland in full flight. Here is a full, healthy voice wedded to an immaculate vocal technique, innate musicality and a generosity of stage presence that personified ‘La Stupenda’. All the operas in the 1965 season are represented – with and without Sutherland. The original tapes range in audio quality from excellent (those recorded by ‘management’ from placed microphones on the proscenium) to those recorded by a hidden microphone in a coat lapel. These audience recordings capture the more unusual partnerships like Joan Sutherland and Alberto Remedios in Lucia, or Elizabeth Harwood and Luciano Pavarotti, also in Lucia.
Many more surprises are in the pipeline. Two sets will hit the shelves in the early part of 2017. One honouring Australia’s greatest ever soprano and the other an international star who had their career tragically cut short. But no more hints…
– See more at: http://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/features/brian-castles-onion-preserving-la-stupenda#sthash.yRT4vLzI.dpuf
Save the Date for a free concert at St Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square, to hear Tait Awardee, Vivien Conacher singing with The Concordia Ensemble.
Monday 2 January, 1:00 pm Programme
Let me dance and let me sing from The Gipsy Princess – Kalman
Vilja’s Song from The Merry Widow by Lehar arr. Stickles
Dein ist mein ganzes Herz from Das Land des Lächelns by Lehar
Barcarolle from Les Contes d’Hoffmann by Offenbach
Gendarmes’ Duet from Geneviève de Brabant by Offenbach
Les oiseaux dans la charmille from Les Contes d’Hoffmann by Offenbach
Wien, du Stadt meine Traüme by Sieczyńksi
Ah, quel diner! from La Perichole by Offenbach
Love unspoken from The Merry Widow by Lehar
Adele’s Laughing Song from Die Fledermaus by J. Strauss
Brother mine from Die Fledermaus by J. Strauss
Sarah Labiner (soprano) recently sang Jano (Jenufa) and 15-Year-Old Girl (Lulu) with the English National Opera. Other roles and scenes include Zerbinetta (Ariadne auf Naxos), Sophie (Der Rosenkavalier), Adina (L’elisir d’amore), and Sophie (Werther). She trained at ENO Opera Works, the RCM, and UNCSA.
Vivien Conacher (mezzo-soprano) recent engagements include Opera Australia, Wexford Festival Opera, Iford Arts Festival, Grange Park Opera and BBC Proms. Vivien trained at the RCM, on ENO Opera Works and is an alumnus of the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme. She also runs a dementia-friendly recital series called Songhaven.
Edward Hughes (tenor) studied at the Benjamin Britten International Opera School with Tim Evans-Jones having previously completed a Masters in Aeronautical Engineering at Imperial College London. He has sung roles at Opera Holland Park and Longborough and understudied Das Lied von der Erde at the ROH. Roles performed include Tamino, Erik, Jenik, Rodolfo, Pinkerton, Cavaradossi, DonJosé, Des Grieux, Luigi, Macduff and Riccardo.
Matthew Palmer (baritone) studied at the Guildhall School under Robert Dean. He sings around the UK and abroad and has broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. Highlights include Guglielmo (Brigitta Festival, Estonia); Billy Budd (Opera North); Lorenzo, I Capuletti e i Montecchi (Pop-Up Opera); and Cover Abimelech & Alcindoro/Beniot (Grange Park Opera).
Samuel Oram (baritone) has been acclaimed for singing “with fire and gusto” (Birmingham Mail) and for his”…masterful breadth of line” (BBC Radio 3). He recently appeared as Thoas, Iphigénie en Tauride (Euphonia Opera), Nardo, Finta Giardinera (RCM), Marco, Gianni Schicchi (Westminster Opera), Marquis de la Force, Dialogues des Carmelites (BCO), Demetrius, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (BCO). Samuel is represented by Sarah Spooner at Cantabile Artists.
FREE Luchtime Concert: The Concordia Ensemble
Start: January 2, 2017 1:00 pm
End: January 2, 2017 1:45 pm
Venue: St Martin-in-the-Fields
Phone: 020 7766 1100
Concert at St Gabriel’s Church, Pimlico
Monday, 23rd January at 7 for 7.30pm
This concert is dedicated to the memory of Janet Alstergren Webb (1944 – 2016), beloved friend of the Tait Family.
We are thrilled to confirm that ABC Classics Artists, Seraphim Trio, will perform for us on Monday the 23rd January at St Gabriel’s Church, Pimlico. Join us as we venture into the Viennese salon of Beethoven and Schubert. Our program captures the explosion of Beethoven into Viennese life with his first publication and the devastating inner explorations of Schubert during his last year. Our journey promises to be an adventure of sound, emotion and conversation.
The proceeds from this concert will go towards our awards for 2017.
Beethoven Op. 1 No. 1 (25 mins)
2. Adagio cantabile
3. Scherzo: Allegro assai
4. Finale: Presto
Schubert trio in E flat Op. 100 (45 mins)
2. Andante con moto
3. Scherzando: Allegro moderato
4. Allegro moderato
Over the last two decades, Helen Ayres, Anna Goldsworthy and Tim Nankervis have remained steadfastly committed to chamber music – from building the contemporary repertoire, to developing new audiences and teaching the next generation of performers. Inspiring others through intelligent programming and a deep knowledge and love of chamber music, Seraphim Trio never fails to delight audiences.
“…absolute sonic cohesion and uniform musical maturity…a masterclass in chamber music technique and ensemble.” The Australian
“One of Australia’s finest” ArtsHub
“It’s important to acknowledge technical achievement but this performance was about so much more. The Seraphims delivered Beethoven’s music with empathy, not just for the composer’s intention, but also for each other’s contribution to the work.” ArtsHub
Winners of the Piano Trio Prize and the Audience Choice Award at the Australian National Chamber Music Competition in 2001 (now the Asia-Pacific Chamber Music Competition), Seraphim Trio has regularly performed at the Melbourne International Arts Festival, the Port Fairy Spring Music Festival, the Adelaide Festival of Arts, the Peninsular Summer Music Festival and in 2013, Opera Australia’s Ring Festival in Melbourne.
Alongside its acclaimed subscription series Seraphim Trio is frequently broadcast on ABC Classic FM and on the MBS network, and maintains a robust commissioning program, having recently premiered new works by Graeme Koehne, Andrew Ford, Elena Kats-Chernin, Calvin Bowman, Anne Boyd, Benjamin Martin, James Ledger. Seraphim frequently collaborates with Australia’s leading musicians: most recently with Diana Doherty, Paul Dean, Lisa Harper-Brown and David Elton.
The group has studied in Germany with Hatto Beyerle, and in Australia with William Hennessy, Eleonora Sivan, Mark Mogilevski, Ronald Farren-Price and Lois Simpson.
We are delighted to confirm that Helen Ayres has joined our Music Board. Helen is a Doctoral graduate from the University of Melbourne where she studied with Mark Mogilevsky and completed research into the music of the Romanian violinist and composer George Enescu, and served as Acting Head of Strings in 2007.
We were very lucky to have Helen as our concertmaster in our recent Tait Winter Prom, her experience and leadership was a pivotal part of the Tait Chamber Orchestra’s success. Helen is also a member of the internationally acclaimed, Seraphim Trio.
Their new CD, Beethoven Piano Trios is available to buy from the ABC online here
Helen is a Doctoral graduate from the University of Melbourne where she studied with Mark Mogilevsky and completed research into the music of the Romanian violinist and composer George Enescu, and served as Acting Head of Strings in 2007. She is a core member of the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra and its flagship ensemble, the Australian Octet.
Helen has previously held a full-time position with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and has appeared as guest principal with Orchestra Victoria and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.
Helen has tutored for the Australian Youth Orchestra’s Young Australian Concert Artists and Young Symphonists programs, continuing a long association that started when she toured as concertmaster of the AYO to Asia, New Zealand, Japan, Europe and America.
As a regular chamber music recitalist and founding member of the Seraphim Trio, Helen is a guest of the Sydney International Piano competition and appears at music festivals throughout Australia.
Helen’s solo repertoire includes the Sibelius, Beethoven triple and Brahms double concertos. Her previous teachers have been Alice Waten, William Hennessy and Beryl Kimber. She currently lives in London where she performs as a member of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and is undertaking a year of pedagogical observation at the Yehudi Menuhin School. Helen is delighted to have performed as Concertmaster of the Tait Chamber Orchestra.
Anna is a founding member of Seraphim Trio, and records for the ABC Classics label. She is currently a Lecturer at the Elder Conservatorium of Music, Research Fellow at the J.M. Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice at the University of Adelaide, and Kenneth Moore Memorial Music Scholar at Janet Clarke Hall. Described by The Australian as a ‘musical ambassador’, and the Sydney Morning Herald as “one of the very best young non-fiction writers in Australia”, Anna Goldsworthy is an award-winning pianist and writer. Her first book, Piano Lessons, is an Australian best-seller and has been released in the United States and Korea, adapted for the stage, and is currently in development as a film. Anna’s writing has appeared in The Monthly, The Age, The Australian, and Best Australian Essays. Her new memoir Welcome to Your New Life is now available and her Quarterly Essay was released in June 2013.
Timothy studied at the Australian Institute of Music with Lois Simpson, graduating with Honours in 1998. He was awarded a Big Brother scholarship in 1995 and travelled to London where he studied with William Pleeth and Raphael Wallfisch. In 1999, he took up a scholarship to study with Vadim Chervov at the Tchaikovsky National Academy of Music in Kiev.
He returned to Australia and completed his Master’s degree at the University of Melbourne in 2002, studying with Nelson Cooke. He has also studied with Georg Pedersen, Denise Lawrence and David Berlin and prior to his appointment with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, he was enrolled as a Doctoral candidate at the University of Melbourne.
In 2000 he performed in a competition at the Australian National Academy of Music and was one of two musicians selected to perform as a soloist with Orchestra Victoria, playing Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations. Timothy Nankervis has won numerous awards for cello performance and chamber music and is a member of the acclaimed Seraphim Trio as well as performing with the Sydney Soloists and Linden String Trio. In 2004 and 2008, he performed with his colleague from the Seraphim Trio, violinist Helen Ayres, in the Sydney International Piano Competition to provide competitors with a piano trio for the chamber music component of the competition.
As a soloist, Timothy Nankervis has performed throughout Australia and has featured in numerous broadcasts for ABC Classic FM and 2MBS-FM.
Our Patron, Australian soprano, Danielle de Niese starred in the Glyndebourne 2016 production of The Barber of Seville. The BBC has just announced its Christmas schedule and we are delighted to share the news that the acclaimed production will be shown on BBC Four this December. The broadcast will be preceded by a documentary that follows Danielle de Niese in her preparations for the role of Rosina.
Birth of an Opera: Danielle de Niese on The Barber of Seville
7.00pm, Sunday 18 December, BBC Four
Offering unparalleled insight into the process of staging an opera, the documentary follows Danni as she prepares to make her debut in the opera’s starring role of Rosina. It also features interviews with director Annabel Arden, conductor Enrique Mazzola, designer Joanna Parker and key Glyndebourne figures.
Il barbiere di Siviglia
Immediately afterwards, at 8.00pm, audiences can watch the opera in full, recorded live this summer.
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