9 choir members
August 19, Calendar, Music, Performing arts

Music: Giovanni Consort @ Government House Ballroom

11 August @ Government House Ballroom ·
Presented by The Giovanni Consort ·

For 24 years, The Giovanni Consort has been delighting Perth audiences with beautiful harmonies and imaginative concerts. The Consort has become renowned for its exquisite, high-quality performances of unaccompanied choral music ranging from the medieval period to the present day.

Some of Perth’s best voices join forces to present diverse and engaging musical programs and the Government House Foundation is delighted to present this fine group in a popular and wide ranging program.

More info
W: perthconcerthall.com.au/events/event/giovanni-consort
E:  giovanniconsort@gmail.com

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Features, Music, News, Performing arts

WA Day celebration

Alessandro Pittorino has been exploring the organ since he was a child, literally inside and out. The West Australian organist has recently returned from New York’s Juilliard School and will be performing at Government House Ballroom’s WA Day Gala Concert. Pittorino’s charismatic performing style will be on display alongside tenor Paul O’Neill, soprano Naomi Johns and drag queen Cougar Morrison in a celebration of Western Australia’s diversity, humour and culture.

Editor Rosalind Appleby caught up with the 25 year old organ sensation to find out more about his fascination with the instrument.

Rosalind Appleby: What first inspired you to play the organ?

Alessandro Pittorino: When I was around 5 years old, I saw someone playing quite a large pipe organ in Fremantle and I was completely fixated on it. My mum use to like to go into the church on a Sunday afternoon for quiet and peaceful reflection, away from the crowds. Around the same time the movie Harry Potter had just been released. With the organist seated on ground level, but the sound coming from all around the building, and so many different sounds – I honestly thought it was magic. I had found my Hogwarts letter! I was then granted access to this instrument and continued to explore it by myself – the ultimate musical instrument for any child who loves to explore!

RA: The pipe organ has evolved since the 3rd century BC into one of the most complex man-made devices. Why do you think humanity has been so interested in music made from blowing wind through pipes?

AP: There’s a certain human element to this otherwise machine of an instrument. This idea of a living and breathing instrument, just like we as humans breathe, gives the organ this humanizing element. But it immediately transcends that as the organ works with the infinite – as long as you hold the note, only then will it continue to sound. It is interesting to add that the organ I be will playing is called the ‘Infinity’. The sheer amount of musical possibilities that can be achieved with facility has fascinated and continues to fascinate musicians, builders, and audiences alike. Although the organ looks like a beast of an instrument, it is actually incredibly intimate and is capable of producing many different types of sounds, depending on what the score may require. Whether it is J. S. Bach’s monumental Passacaglia in C minor or John Williams’ iconic Star Wars suite, the organ, at its best, gives its player the ability to express themselves with the amount of power and flexibility usually only afforded to an orchestra. There is something special about doing that and witnessing it.

RA: Pipe organ repertoire spans over 500 years. What is your favourite period of organ music?

AP: That would be like trying to choose your favourite child. I love listening and performing all sorts of different music for all sorts of different reasons. There is no one size that fits all. The beauty about the arts is that it has power to be a true reflection of who we are and rarely will that ever be a black and white image. Our world is filled with so much colour and there are as many emotions as there are colours in the world. There exists all sorts of music to convey and express that, and that’s why I can’t choose just one.

RA: Where do you hail from originally (you have a rather exotic name!)?

AP: I was born and raised right here in Perth! I attended East Fremantle Primary School, then both Christian Brothers College Fremantle and Trinity College East Perth! I have both Italian and Greek heritage, but I am a proud Australian.

RA: You’ve studied at the University of WA and have recently returned from three years at The Juilliard School. Where do you hope to take your career now?

AP: I am so incredibly blessed to be living and working as a performing artist. My work takes me all over the world, and affords me the opportunity to work with so many different people, both in the performing arts and outside.

RA: What do you love most about what you do?

AP: I love being able to share what I do with people – and I love meeting and being around people as a result. Like with any career, being a musician is a full time job requiring precise training, development and performance on an almost daily basis.

RA: You bring a lot of flair to your performances. What do you hope people will experience at the WA Day concert?

AP: I hope my audience is able to relax and have some fun! This is meant to be a celebration of who we are as West Australians! I think we deserve to be a little more proud of our not-so-little state and celebrate the amazing people we have here. If we support one another, and celebrate the best of who we are, there is no reason why Perth and WA cannot be the best in the world. In so many ways, it already is.

RA: Anything else we should know about the WA Day Gala?

This is the first major performance featuring an organ in the Government House Ballroom, and I’m so grateful to be sponsored by Principal Organs of Roland Australia who is providing a brand new Rodgers Digital organ direct from America. Perth audiences haven’t had the chance to experience an instrument like this before as this type of instrument just doesn’t exist here. Although it is not a pipe organ, it is a digital replication of what it would be like to have the real thing in the Ballroom. It comes pretty close! I’m also proud to say it is the first time a drag queen has featured at the Government House Ballroom. Cougar Morrison is a stunning performer; we both studied and worked in NYC, albeit at different times. She brings an international performance extravaganza with a local feel and flavor to the show. I’m so excited to be working with her! This will be one of the most diverse concerts on the calendar so far – and of all the many performances that I do, this is the one that I’m most excited about!

The WA Day Gala Concert is at the Government House Ballroom on June 2.

Picture top: Alessandro Pittorino

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Man in red tuxedo and bowtie
Calendar, June 19, Music, Performing arts, Vocal

Music: WA Day Gala Concert

2 June @ Government House Ballroom ·
Presented by Rotary Club of Perth and Alessandro Pittorino ·

Join us in the incredible Government House Ballroom and be entertained by some of WA’s best-performing talent! With performances by musical director and organist Alessandro Pittorino, WA Opera’s tenor Paul O’Neill, soprano Naomi Johns, cabaret superstar Cougar Morrison and more.

As we celebrate WA Day across the state this will be an afternoon you won’t forget!

More info
W: www.perthconcerthall.com.au/events/event/wa-day-gala-concert
E:  boxoffice@perthconcerthall.com.au

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Brandenburg Quartet
Music, News, Performing arts, Reviews

Quartet coming into their own

Review: Brandenburg Quartet ⋅
Government House Ballroom, April 9 ⋅
Review by Rosalind Appleby ⋅

It is two years since the Brandenburg Quartet formed with a mission to perform classical quartet repertoire on period instruments. The quartet comprises the principal string players of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and is the only quartet in the country performing exclusively on gut strings.

The ensemble’s period of focus – the late 18th and early 19th century – is the golden age of string quartet writing, dominated by the output of the well-known figures of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. Yet for their first tour for 2019 the quartet included on the program two works you have probably never heard before: quartets by the French composer Hyacinthe Jadin and Italian-born Gaetano Brunetti. Sitting alongside Boccherini’s Quartet in D G165 and Beethoven’s Quartet in C minor No 4, it was an intriguing line up.

First violinist Shaun Lee-Chen is well-known to Perth audiences as a member of the WA Symphony Orchestra, a position he now juggles with his role as concertmaster of the ABO. He has spent two years working in quartet format with Ben Dollman (Adelaide) on second violin, Monique O’Dea (Sydney) viola and Jamie Hey (Melbourne) cello, and the quartet is beginning to take on its own identity.

On Tuesday night, in the radiant acoustic of the Government House Ballroom, the sparing vibrato and the lighter sound of period instruments gave the ensemble litheness and a well-knit blend. The performers clearly relished the classical era’s penchant for contrasting delicacy with explosive energy, particularly evident in Jadin’s sophisticated and highly romantic Quartet No 1, a welcome new discovery.

Lee-Chen’s inspired phrasing brought pained eloquence to the phrases of slow movements, in particular the exquisite Adagio in Boccherini’s Quartet in D.

The well-balanced program placed the vibrant vignettes that comprise Brunetti’s Quartet No 4 alongside the brooding darkness of Beethoven’s C minor Quartet No 4. Beethoven’s adventurous changes of tonality had an almost shocking aural impact thanks to the colours of the gut strings, tuned slightly lower at 430 Hz.

It was an engrossing performance. But I have quibbles too. The opening work of the program (Boccherini) was unsettled with slapdash starts to phrases. Lee-Chen’s assertive musical ideas sometimes came at the expense of unity within the ensemble. And the program didn’t list the movements of each work which created an unnecessary stumbling block for the uninitiated (who were left wondering when to clap) and was a missed opportunity in terms of audience engagement. Dollman’s insightful introduction from the stage was all too brief; chamber music has the potential for much richer transactions with an audience already attracted to the intimacy and intellectual richness of this musical genre. More could be done here if the quartet intends to grow a loyal, informed audience.

The Brandenburg Quartet national tour continues to Brisbane on April 12 and Adelaide on April 13.

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Church choristers
Calendar, May 19, Music, Performing arts

Music: Mark Coughlan Rising Stars

19 May @ Government House Ballroom ·
Presented by Music on the Terrace ·

Every year Music on the Terrace proudly presents a program dedicated to the best young talent in Western Australia. This year they are delighted to welcome for the first time the Chapel Choir of John Septimus Roe Anglican Community School. Making a return visit is the String Quartet of St George’s College and the program will also feature a number of outstanding young solo performers.

More info
W: www.perthconcerthall.com.au/events/event/mark-coughlan-rising-stars
E:  boxoffice@perthconcerthall.com.au

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Freddy Kempf
Music, News, Performing arts, Reviews

Russian romance and jazz

Perth Festival review: Freddy Kempf ⋅
Government House Ballroom, February 17 ⋅
Review by Ron Banks ⋅

The Perth Festival over its long history has enticed dozens of first-class pianists to our concert halls, and London-born pianist Freddy Kempf is another name to add to an already impressive list.

Kempf’s soloist style can best be described as aggression leavened with passages of pure lyricism and subtlety. Playing with confident bravura he brilliantly essayed two of the great Russian composers of the repertoire: Rachmaninov and Prokofiev. Sonatas by both composers made up the bulk of his program, each a masterclass in passionate, daring performance of what are complex, demanding works.

Seated at the great beast that is the ballroom’s Fazioli grand, the 41-year-old pianist played with an assurance, muscularity and musicality that suggested we were witnessing an authoritative voice in the highly competitive arena of the solo recitalist.

His playing of Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 1 and Sonata No. 8 and Rachmaninov’s Sonata No. 2 revealed their power, complexity and subtlety. But the biggest revelation was the choice of the music of Nikolai Kapustin, a composer I suspect was not well-known by the capacity Festival audience.

The Russian-born Kapustin, now aged 81, was originally a jazz pianist and composer in jazz. It is this jazz background that comes into play in his Concert Etudes which are a fusion of classical composition and jazz. There is not the improvisational aspect of jazz in his studies, but instead a brilliant coming together of musical forms in his compositional style. Kempf’s understanding of the jazz idiom was just part of his complete mastery of performance, his technique well-equipped to transition in an instant from the strictures of classical music to the more swinging, chordal structure of jazz.

His interpretation of Kapustin sounded somewhat like Andre Previn in jazz-classic mode, and it would have been enjoyable to have heard some more of Kapustin beyond the three studies presented in the second half of the program. Overall, though, his choice of repertoire was excellent and Kempf’s brilliance should long be remembered as a Festival highlight. Hopefully he will return.

Pictured top: Freddy Kempf plays with confident bravura. Photo supplied.

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Brandenburg Quartet
April 19, Calendar, Classical music, Music, Performing arts

Music: Brandenburg Quartet

9 April @ Government House Ballroom ·
Presented by the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra ·

Formed by the principal string players of the multi-ARIA Award-winning Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, the Brandenburg Quartet has become Australia’s most imaginative period instrument ensemble.

Drawn from across the country, and performing exclusively on gut strings, the group explores little-known Baroque and Classical works and composers, in addition to well-loved quartets from the Classical repertoire.

In a national tour covering Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, the Brandenburg Quartet will captivate audiences with an imaginative program of lesser-known works by Beethoven, Boccherini, Brunetti and Jadin.

More info
W: www.perthconcerthall.com.au/events/event/brandenburg-quartet
E:  boxoffice@perthconcerthall.com.au

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WASO Festival of Chamber Music
Calendar, March 19, Music, Performing arts

Music: WASO’s Festival of Chamber Music

2 & 3 March @ Government House Ballroom ·
Presented by West Australian Symphony Orchestra ·

Celebrate some of the most exquisite music written for chamber ensembles over two days in the beautiful and intimate Government House Ballroom. Enjoy the endless talents of WASO’s own chamber ensembles performing seven distinctive concerts and soak up the festival atmosphere in the beautiful surrounds of the Government House Gardens. From Bach to Britten and brass quintets to wind octets, this is a musical feast for everyone.

Come to a single concert, settle in for a day, or join us for the whole weekend experience. Don’t miss our final Sunday Twilight Gala; a special picnic followed by a performance from WASO’s strings. Packages available to suit your taste.

More info
W: www.waso.com.au/concerts-tickets/series/wasos-festival-of-chamber-music/
E:  waso@waso.com.au

Pictured: WASO’s Festival of Chamber Music

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Freddy Kempf
Calendar, Music, Performing arts, Perth Festival

Music: Freddy Kempf in Recital

17 February @ Government House Ballroom ·
Presented by Freddy Kempf ·

An audience with pianist Freddy Kempf is an exhilarating experience – whether his fingers are glittering at breakneck speed across the keys or he’s exquisitely serenading you with a deft emotional touch. Kempf is one of today’s most successful pianists performing to sell-out audiences all over the world. Exceptionally gifted with an unusually road repertoire, he has built a unique reputation as both an explosive and physical performer who is not afraid to take risks, as well as a serious, sensitive and profoundly musical artist.

Kempf’s strong rapport with Russia and its music, developed over years of frequent concert engagements and a language fluency to rival the locals,began in 1998 as he won the hearts of Moscow audiences in the TchaikovskyPiano Competition. Few contemporary pianists have the measure of these iconic monuments of 19th century pianism quite like he does. His often-called meteoric rise to the stage has now stood the test of time, and while the music he champions seems to always require nerves of steel and highly impressive dexterity, his experience and deep understanding of the repertoire will blow you away.

Freddy Kempf is certainly no stranger to piano enthusiasts, but this opportunity to hear him perform in the beautiful surrounds of the Government House Ballroom will be a truly special experience.

More info:

Pictured: Freddy Kempf, credit: Nada Navaee

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Vienna Opera House
Calendar, Music, Opera, Performing arts, September 18

Music: Mozart at the Opera

16 September @ Government House Ballroom ·
Presented by Music on the Terrace ·

Mozart himself conducted the first performance of this work in Vienna, and it has become a favourite in opera houses around the world.

The hero Belmonte, assisted by his servant Pedrillo, attempts to rescue his beloved Konstanze from the harem of Pasha Selim. In this performance we present a chamber music version, an opera without singers, perfectly suited to the intimacy of Government House Ballroom and featuring outstanding guest performers and resident musicians of the Australian National Academy of Music in Melbourne.


Featuring music from Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio


Phillip Lambert – Narrator
Nick Deutsch – Oboe
David Thomas – Clarinet
Lyndon Watts – Bassoon
Marie-Luise Neunecker – French horn

More info:

W: www.perthconcerthall.com.au/events/event/mozart-at-the-opera
E: boxoffice@perthconcerthall.com.au

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