Australian music, Ross Edwards celebrates a milestone birthday, and a new music micro festival in CRH’s 2018.

City Recital Hall has announced its 2018 curated programme, which will span new Australian music to musical theatre events, a birthday celebration and a brand new micro festival. The 2018 season will be the third of City Recital Hall’s curated seasons, since the establishment of City Recital Hall Limited as a not-for-profit company in 2015. “Two years ago when this company was established,” CEO Elaine Chia said at the launch event last night, “there were about 16 concerts in the programme and this year we’ve presented over 60 and next year over 80.”

The 2018 season programme is a diverse offering – in addition to City Recital Hall’s regular presenters, such as Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Musica Viva, Pinchgut Opera, Sydney Festival and Sydney Symphony Orchestra – encompassing a wide array of styles and formats.

You and Me, starring musical theatre performers Michael Cormick and Rachael Beck, comes to City Recital Hall in January directed and choreographed by Kelley Abbey. Cormick and Beck will interlace songs from hits such as Beauty and the Beast, Cats, Chicago, Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera with anecdotes about their careers and experiences in the musical theatre world.

Sonya Lifschitz performing Stalin’s Piano at the Canberra International Music Festival. Photo © Peter Hislop

March will see Australian composer Robert Davidson’s multimedia work Stalin’s Piano, which premiered at the Canberra International Music Festival, come to Sydney. The work, which will be performed by Ukrainian-born pianist Sonya Lifschitz, uses material from speeches by artists and politicians from Bertolt Brecht and John F Kennedy to Judith Wright and Joseph Goebbels in a complex duet between audio, video and pianist that Limelight described as “a captivatingly scrapbooky interplay between piano and the voices of history.”

Singer Kate Ceberano will join musical theatre performer Michael Falzon, also in March, for a concert of music from the James Bond films, such as Goldfinger, Live and Let Die, From Russia With Love, Diamonds Are Forever, Skyfall and more, with the suave and dashing Guy Noble standing in for 007 at the podium.

Deborah CheethamSoprano Deborah Cheetham

April will see a concert showcasing the work of Greek composer Yannis Markopoulos, while acclaimed Australian Indigenous soprano and composer Deborah Cheetham AO will present Songs of Belonging in May, sharing her unique life story and musical journey in a performance that will see new works by the singer in the languages of the Yorta Yorta, Gunditjmara and Boon Wurrung people alongside music by Catalani, Cilea, Puccini, Dvořák, Strauss and Vaughan Williams. “Aboriginal people have always known their belonging and we have done that through song,” Cheetham says. “It’s how we’ve given meaning to everything in our world, but it’s more than a song – it’s a map to our identity.”

Following on from the success of Elena Kats-Chernin’s Birthday Bash – celebrating the composer’s 60th – City Recital Hall will celebrate another milestone birthday of an iconic Australian composer in 2018: Ross Edwards’ 75th. Sydney Chamber Choir and percussion ensemble Synergy will join in the festivities, in a concert including works that have inspired the composer, his own works, and works he has in turn inspired, all conducted by Richard Gill.

August will see a new micro festival called Extended Play take over City Recital Hall. “The inspiring Lyle Chan is working with us to shape this event and the full programme will be announced in May,” said Chia. “But one presentation that we have already decided will be in the programme is a non-stop performance of Satie’s Vexations. Now this piece, in case you don’t know it, is a single sheet of music that is meant to be played continuously 840 times. In 1963 it took John Cage and his team of pianists 18 hours and 40 minutes. In 1971 the Leeds Music Centre Festival attempted it. They failed at 611. We have 12 hours and for all of you who play piano and even for those who don’t, but want to, now’s your time to start. Because you can join us for one or two iterations or 30. Because believe me, we need you.”

Richard GillRichard Gill conducting Flash Mob Choirs at City Recital Hall. Photo © Simon Bernhardt

One of the big hits of 2017 was Richard Gill’s Flash Mob Choirs, an initiative for which people sign up to receive text messages about spontaneous choral gatherings. “2018 is a special year for the Flash Mob. Flash Mob has been a huge success this year and it’s a very, very sad regret of mine that I wasn’t able to do a couple of them,” Gill said via video message. “However in 2018 I’m going to make up for that and we’re going to make sure that we get about 10,000 people registering for Flash Mobs.”

October will featureTasting Notes, featuring tenor David Hobson, a concert of opera and classical music highlights featuring music by Puccini, Bizet, Mozart, Vivaldi and many more, conducted by Guy Noble, while Gondwana Choirs will be back at City Recital Hall in 2018, with Eternal Voices in June and Voices of Angels in December.


The Full Programme