Violinist Daniel Hope and the Zurich Chamber Orchestra will headline next year’s Utzon Music Series at the Sydney Opera House. The 2018 season, which sees the series move into its second decade after its 10th anniversary this year, will be a diverse one, featuring artists from home and abroad.

Daniel HopeViolinist Daniel Hope. Photo © Bailey Davidson

“At its very core the Utzon Music Series has a simple philosophy,” Utzon Music Series Curator Yarmila Alfonzetti told Limelight. “We aren’t trying to be too clever or create new perspectives on classical music. We aren’t trying to traverse the breadth of Western art music. And, even though this does tend to happen quite a lot, we aren’t looking for firsts.”

“This Series is about brilliant musicians playing proven repertoire which reflects the quality and beauty of the space,” Alfonzetti said. “The Utzon Room is a pleasure to be in; there is a calm, secure authenticity about those heavy concrete beams and the sense that one is almost outside, but safely encased within. Every musician in the Utzon Music Series is interesting. I like them personally and professionally. I always request, and hope, that they will have a chat to us in what I wish was my fancy living room. Most important is that we hear music we know and love, but hear it anew. The discovery of something through a fresh interpretation is the gift of this Series.”

Orava QuartetThe Orava Quartet. Photo courtesy of Sydney Opera House.

The year kicks off in February with home-grown Australian ensemble the Orava Quartet – who Limelight Editor at Large Clive Paget has described as “the most exciting young quartet on the block” – performing a programme of Rachmaninov, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky in the Utzon Room.

“The Orava sound is rather special,” Paget wrote of the Quartet’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s String Quartet No 1 at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music earlier this year. “Daniel Kowalik’s lean, clean first violin shimmers away on top, gently complemented by David Dalseno’s discreetly supportive second violin. Underneath sits Thomas Chawner – a violist of much flair and warm tone – and Karol Kowalik, whose impassioned cello is a pleasure to watch as well as a joy to hear.”

Measha Brueggergosman credit Hiep VuMeasha Brueggergosman. Photo © Hiep Vu

Following the Oravas is Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman will make her Australian debut in March, in a recital with pianist Ian Munro, while Canadian violinist James Ehnes, whose album with Andrew Armstrong won Limelight’s Chamber Recording of the Year in 2016, will perform a recital of solo works by JS Bach in April.

Chinese pianist Moye Chen, who charmed audiences in Sydney last year at the Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia will return in May – ahead of the release of his debut album on Decca Classics – performing Grainger and Rachmaninov.

American baritone Thomas Hampson will make his debut Australian tour in June, singing Schubert, Mahler and songs from­­ the American songbook, while Hungarian cellist István Várdai will perform solo works by Ligeti, Bach and Kodaly in July.

The big event for the year will be British violinist Daniel Hope – who Alfonzetti described as “one of my all-time favourites” – and the Zurich Chamber Orchestra making their Australian debut in September, performing in the Concert Hall.

“I am most excited about Daniel Hope coming to Australia again,” Alfonzetti said. “Musicians don’t come any smarter than this, and the charm with the smile doesn’t hurt either! I like musicians who get on with being busy, not too precious, and work bloody hard at one hundred things. Daniel’s my man when multi-tasking is concerned.”

“The repertoire will feature two works that showcase the virtuosity of the violin – the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons,” Alfonzetti said. “Hope’s vigorous and bravado-filled musicianship is sure to bring the Concert Hall to life in this charming afternoon concert.”

Ksenija_CREDIT SL ChaiKsenija Sidorova. Photo © SL Chai

The year will come to a close with Latvian accordionist Ksenija Sidorova – described in the Guardian as “glorious” – performing a recital spanning Rachmaninov to Schnittke in December.

“Every artist in the 2018 programme is intensely interesting; they’re in demand and have lots going on,” Alfonzetti said. “Personality and musicality are the most winning combination – as I always say, you either want to be a musician… or be with a musician (wink)!”


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