Photography Keith Saunders

Best of Music

Last Updated: 29 Jun 2015
Anna Christensen

The sweaty summer festivals have given way to a more sophisticated music itinerary. There are legends of music history (Joan Baez, Neil Diamond), flawless renditions of classical scores (WASO’s Tchaikovsky, Fremantle Chamber Orchestra’s Beethoven), and early music that is pushed to exciting new heights (Lost & Found Opera, I Fagiolini).

Neil Diamond

Both Warwick Hemsley and Wendy Martin look forward to reliving teen nostalgia as legendary musician Neil Diamond takes the stage. “I"m a fan from way back,” admits Hemsley. “His music brings back great teenage memories. Gee, Neil Diamond must be pretty ancient by now!” (He's 74, FYI). Martin once got to see the Sweet Caroline singer in the flesh. “I saw him perform his classic album Hot August Night one balmy Sydney evening,” she says. “A great teenage memory.” Diamond will deliver his signature tunes at Sandalford's spectacular open amphitheatre. New lifelong memories: instantly made.
Sandalford Estate, Swan Valley, November 14.


The Marriage of Figaro

This performance from WA Opera got a double seal of approval from our experts for good reason: it's Mozart's classic comic opera performed by a stellar local and international cast. “Our friends at West Australian Opera always do an amazing job, and I am looking forward to seeing one of Mozart's seminal favourites,” says Aurélien Scannella. According to Warwick Hemsley, “It will feature outstanding West Australian James Clayton as Figaro, and internationally acclaimed conductor Antony Walker, along with Helpmann Award-winning director Neil Armfield. An exciting and entertaining night out.” For those unfamiliar with the plot, it's surprisingly up-tempo and engaging, with twists like girls dressed as boys, people hiding in cupboards, and cases of mistaken identity. Saucy. Brush up on your opera know-how with a free talk prior to the performance.
His Majesty's Theatre, until July 25.


I Figiolini

Photography Keith Saunders

Though they"ve yet to play in Australia, we have it on good authority this British a cappella group is well worth seeing. “I saw their site-specific work Betrayal: A Polyphonic Crime Drama at Village Underground in London in May,” says PIAF's Wendy Martin. “They sing like a dream.” The group (whose name means 'the little beans". Random) has a knack for taking Renaissance music and making it accessible to modern audiences, with exuberant, off-the-wall shows. In this performance, they'll span countries and centuries, from a Renaissance hunting party to a Monteverdi madrigal to an original piece specially written for them by Australian composer Andrew Schultz - all without the aid of any instruments. Eat your heart out, Pitch Perfect.
Perth Concert Hall, August 3.


Josh Pyke with WASO

There are few who would dispute the songwriting skill of Josh Pyke. So what happens when you mix his sunny melodies with an orchestral score? A top event, according to Aurélien Scannella. “This one-night-only show is something on my list, as it gives me a chance to sit back and relax while listening to Mr Pyke, accompanied by the masterful sounds of WASO,” he says. According to conductor Chris Dragon, it's more than just familiar songs with a bit of violin backing. “The cool thing is that he's trying to get the composers who are arranging it for the orchestra to put their own spin on it. It's not necessarily what you'd expect.” Think favourite tunes like Middle of the Hill and The Lighthouse Song, but altered by way of time signatures and structures, so you hear them in an all-new way.
Perth Concert Hall, July 24.


Beethoven Choral Fantasy: Music on the terrace

The Fremantle Chamber Orchestra is celebrating its tenth anniversary in rather grand fashion, performing in the palatial Government House as part of Music on the Terrace. Don't assume that because they"re local, they"re parochial performers - according to Warwick Hemsley, the orchestra stages world-class shows. “This orchestra, under music director and conductor Christopher van Tuinen and coordinator Hans Hug, always delivers,” he says. For their tenth-anniversary performance, the orchestra is set to perform a rousing score, peaking with Beethoven's masterpiece The Choral Fantasy. And, in case the name didn't give it away, they'll join forces with twenty-piece youth choir Voyces, who are fast earning a rep as international players.
Government House Ballroom, October 4.


Asher Fisch conducts Tchaikovsky

Photography Chris Gonz

Whenever WASO's principal conductor Asher Fisch takes the helm of
a performance, it's going to be popular. That goes two-fold when he's conducting one of the world's most popular symphonies. Symphony No 5 redefines emotional rollercoaster, as it deftly moves from a funeral march at the beginning to a euphoric crescendo. No wonder it strikes a chord. “I am really looking forward to hearing Asher Fisch conduct Tchaikovsky's Symphony No 5,” says Aurélien Scannella. “I especially love the way the piece moves through all different emotions and ends on such a jubilant note.” Just in time for lunch. Speaking of, if you fancy a buffet afterward, the Duxton Hotel's Firewater Grille offers a special for concert-goers - just quote 'WASO Morning Symphony Series"
when making your reservation.
Perth Concert Hall, September 3.


Lost and Found Opera

Can't get enough of the speakeasy-style bars that keep cropping up in Perth's alleyways? Then you'll love Lost and Found, a boutique opera company that stages intimate performances of forgotten opera scores in abandoned or transformed spaces. “It's the musical equivalent of Perth's new small bar scene,” says Warwick Hemsley. On the heels of a sell-out rendition of Médéé, they have a new production brewing: details are yet to be released, so we suggest bookmarking their homepage. “You won't be disappointed,” Hemsley assures us. Co-artistic director Thomas de Mallet Burgess, an international opera director with 25 years of experience, formed Lost and Found when he came to Perth from Ireland, and was surprised to find WA had but a single outfit performing opera. “The one opera company that does exist here does standard repertoire, the top most popular operas,” he says. He felt a growing appetite for the arts - a trickle-down effect from mining-boom money and signalled by the success of events like PIAF - and wanted to deliver something more. “There was an opportunity here for inquisitive and interested audiences to seek out and find something different... the timing of it is now.”

Photography Grant Taylor


Scalevariable 2015, Concert 2: Gesture

We can imagine how the meeting went between WA local Louise Devenish and Victorian Leah Scholes: “You can play the triangle with a singular mastery, too!?” We"re glad they decided to clang together as The Sound Collectors. This is percussion like you"ve never seen it: delicate, thrilling, and magical. In new piece Gesture, staged by Tura New Music, the duo explores the musicality of gesture with a new work by Australian composer Lindsay Vickery, plus three pieces from composers Cat Hope, Robert Davidson and Mark Applebaum. “It's a dynamic and diverse collection of sounds, including those from drums and gongs, AM radios and sheets of metal or paper,” says Amy Barrett-Lennard. PICA, July 17.

Photography Nik Babic


Joan Baez

She's the queen of folk music (to Dylan's king), an indisputable superstar of the swinging 60s. “She's one of the greatest singer songwriters of our time!” says Amy Barrett-Lennard. Although Baez's voice has been worn with time, its brilliance is still evident. In her more reflective tones, you can hear history; close your eyes and you could be at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where she sang before Martin Luther King delivered his immortal speech, or at the front lines of the civil rights movement, marching toward a hopeful future. In fact, Baez is so tied to the human rights movement, she was awarded the Ambassador of Conscience, Amnesty International's highest honour this past May. Intimidating - but she keeps it real with her quick sense of humour and her goofy 'I don't take this too seriously" grin. Legendary, indeed.
Perth Concert Hall, September 30.

Arts Classical Music Contemporary Music Jazz Music Opera

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