The philosophy behind Omega Ensemble

The philosophy behind Omega Ensemble

Samuel Cottell, musician, writer and music journalist digs deeper into what sets Omega Ensemble apart.

As a nation Australia boasts a large number of exceptional chamber music ensembles but can you name one that has performed works ranging from Mozart to Matthew Hindson, Mahler to John Adams, and Saint-Saëns to Paul Stanhope? You might be scratching your head to think of any one group that can offer such a diverse range of music with alternating instrumental forces who deliver fresh and vital performances to all age groups… but, if your answer is Omega Ensemble, then you’d be correct.

Omega was established in 2005 by clarinetist David Rowden, who had then just returned to Australia after studying at the Royal Academy of Music. Omega began performing in churches to small audiences and over the years have shaped their philosophy of performing the best music regardless of the venue. In every recital (which is an event that is never forgot by audiences) they provide an experience of the senses, no matter if overlooking Sydney Harbour in the Utzon Room or at City Recital Hall where they are currently the ensemble in residence.

As well as performing a diverse range of well known and loved repertoire, Omega’s programming includes works that have been lost to time and possibly never heard until beautifully delivered by Omega and their world class musicians. Their ability to find these pieces and bring them to life spells their deep love and passion not only for well-known chamber music, but for exploring gems that delight, entertain and enrich their audiences on every occasion.

For audiences particularly new to chamber music or those wanting to experience it in a way they have never before, a performance by Omega touches their mind, heart and spirit. To experience an Omega performance is to experience the finest chamber music performance in the country and each concert you attend will offer you a deeper understanding of chamber music in a number of different instrumental combinations; for in each concert programmed by Omega there is surprise and delight.

Audience members leave Omega concerts feeling invigorated, inspired, entertained, even spoiled. Their freedom in programming gives their performances a unique mutability, with every concert having alternating instrumental forces (such as string quartets, piano quintets, clarinet trios and all performed by world class musicians who deliver all of their performances with panache and intricate detail., leaving the audience surprised, engaged inspired and with a deeper understanding of chamber music. 


At the end of any performance by Omega Ensemble, I want the audience to go away with a feeling that they got to experience and discover something new, and perhaps expand their musical tastes.

As the core of Omega’s philosophy is their passion for engaging with audiences from a broad spectrum, particularly the young to the old; enriching the lives of their audiences with a deeper engagement with chamber music from the broadest possible field. From their traditional performances on stage, to their uploads to Digital Concert Hall, Omega has music that is as readily available to each demographic as the next.

True to themselves, Omega is now also offering $30-under-30 tickets for young audiences in love with fresh performances to attend at an affordable price. Omega commits to opening up a world of opportunity for listeners who are craving for something different, something more, and something that will satiate. The Ensemble offers a range of ticket offers; for groups of friends, or for a class of students, Omega has found a way to accommodate for the listener’s situation, eager for the vital to experience their flavour of music.

Their first concert this year premiered Nicole Brady’s “Postlude”, a homage to Bernard Hermann that featured electronics and speaking voice. This was an exciting moment for Omega and even though it might have been somewhat left of field, the ensemble’s ability to engage with any material continues explores the furthest corner of the avant-garde.  To date, they have commissioned and performed brand new works that demonstrate a roster of who’s who of Australian composers including Daniel Rojas (Hard Boiled Overture), Mark Isaacs (Chamber Symphony No.2), Eventide Visions, George Palmer, Elena Kats-Chernin, Anne Boyd, Matthew Hindson, John Peterson, Margery Smith, Stuart Greenbaum, Paul Stanhope, Ben Hoadley, Cyrus Meraunt and their latest world premiere Contradance by acclaimed composer, author and music journalist, Andrew Ford. This is new music within the context of chamber music that audiences all know and love, as well as introducing audiences to ‘new’ chamber music that has existed for hundreds of years and remained unexplored.

I leave you now where we began; with a few questions: Do you love chamber music but want something fresh, new, engaging? Do you love world class musicians, composers, and new music? Do you love new and exciting ways of listening to your favourite music? Do you want to enrich your life with a deeper understanding of chamber music? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then Omega Ensemble is the chamber music group for you to next explore. 

Omega Ensemble’s recent concert “Four Last Songs” as well as their past concerts are now live in our Digital Concert Hall so you can relive your favourite moments from the concert. 

Omega's next performance is Brahms and the Clarinet held on Sunday 29 May 2016 in the intimate setting of the Utzon Room at the Sydney Opera House. Tickets on sale now. 


Samuel Cottell

Samuel Cottell is a multi-verstalie musician (pianist, arranger and composer), writer, music journalist (Leader Writer -Cut Common Mag, Fine Music Magazine, Music and Literature, Jazz Australia and Australian, and biographer. Samuel is also an music educator and currently tutors music theory and analysis in the Arts Music Unit, Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Samuel is currently undertaking his PhD (Musicology) at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music where he is researching the life and music of Tommy Tycho. Samuel has also been published in the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and has interviewed world-acclaimed musicians Renee Flemming, Steven Isserlis, Maxim Vengerov, Stuart Skelton and local musicians Daniel Rojas,  Simon Tedeschi and Katie Noonan. As well as these activities Samuel is in demand as a program note writer (Nexas Saxophone Quartet) and gives pre-concert talks for The Grevillea Ensemble and appeared on Radio National's "RareCollections" talking about Tommy Tycho's recording career and contribution to music.