Abstract illustration of figures singing around a piano

Sydney Conservatorium of Music announces 2023 Festival of Art Song program

23 August 2023
Discover the world of Art Song
The Festival of Art Song returns for 2023, taking place from 23rd to 27th of September at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. This five-day event celebrates the unique connection between poetry and music, showcasing the magic of art songs composed by Australian talents.

This year's festival will feature performances from the Con's Collaborative Piano, Vocal and Composition units, special guests from the Melbourne Conservatorium and Germany, and composers from Australia and Europe.

What is Art Song?

Art songs are a harmonious blend of music and literature, where the poet, composer, singer, and pianist collaborate to create a fully realised work of art. Picture the composer weaving the poet's words into melodies that evoke feelings and emotions. The songs are further enriched by the singer and pianist, whose performances unveil new layers of meaning hidden within the verses.

The Festival of Art Song 2023 goes beyond the surface to explore the intricate bonds between these four elements. This year's festival will also spotlight the genre's development in Australia through a variety of captivating performances and informative lecture/recitals.

Gala Opening and German Romanticism

The festival kicks off on Saturday, September 23rd, with a grand gala performance by Songmakers Australia, presenting "Wagner and Baudelaire". Saturday's program will also include two trios by Johannes Brahms and Frank Bridge for voice, viola and piano, performed by Yanfei Yin, David Howie, and Roger Benedict.

On Sunday, September 24th, the spotlight turns to German Romanticism, celebrating the 200th anniversary of Schubert's "Die Schὅne Müllerin". In addition to performances of Schubert's works, delve into mesmerizing cycles by Schumann and Mahler, and expand your knowledge through a lecture on German Romanticism by Associate Professor Goetz Richter.

Australian Composers and Contemporary Voices

Monday, September 25th, will highlight Australian composers from the early 20th century. Experience the premiere of recently discovered songs, and works by composers Linda Phillips, Roy Agnew, Raymond Hanson and Horace Keats, Peggy Glanville-Hicks, and Meta Overman. The program will also uncover songs written during the First World War, as well as the many works inspired by the poetry of John Shaw Neilson.

Tuesday, September 26th celebrates contemporary Australian composers. Dive into the world of George Palmer's intriguing cycles inspired by the words of Ned Kelly, John Peterson’s lunar-inspired 'Satellite of Love and Fear' and a recital presenting works by Peter Sculthorpe, Linda Kouvaras and John Haddock. The day will culminate in a performance by Songmakers Australia artists Merlyn Quaife and Andrea Katz.

Shining a Light on the Future

The final day, Wednesday September 27th, showcases the future of art songs with fresh melodies that honour the rich tradition of art songs. Enjoy premieres of new works by postgraduate students undertaking the Con's new Words, Text, Voices, Music program, supervised by Associate Professor Paul Stanhope, in addition to a new work composed by Anna Hueneke with Anna Fraser (mezzo-soprano) and Connor Pendelbury (piano). The festival will close with a special recital presented by the Conservatorium's inaugural Elizabeth Todd Chair of Vocal Studies, Deborah Cheetham Fraillon AO

From the deep roots of Australian composition to the vibrant tapestry of contemporary voices, the Festival of Art Song in 2023 promises to be an enriching experience for music lovers. Book your ticket via our Box Office.

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