For Omega Ensemble 2017 has been an extremely busy and exciting year! We've had many highlights with our performances, music making, and our first international tour. This was also an exciting year as we had Maria Raspopova working in her new role as the Co-Artsitic Director implementing many exciting projects and initiatives this year and into the 2018 season.
At the launch of the 2017 season Maria Raspopova said:
Chamber music starts with the name, continues with the repertoire and ends with the challenge of bringing it to life. When one person plays, one person speaks. When 4 people play, 4 people speak. Sometimes they speak in harmony, other times they disagree passionately. They challenge each other, inspire each other. They support, tease, gang up again each other, laugh and have loads of fun together. The musicians who are together on stage in the moment of performances are supremely important to each other as they go deep into these intense emotions. It is with these thoughts in mind, David and I selected the works for the next season. Next year, we focus on the repertoire where each instrument has a strong voice and is not afraid to show it.
This year has been all about musical friendships, and celebrating the individual musical voices and instruments of Omega ensemble and the magic they create when they join forces. It has been about celebrating new friends, old friends and with you, our audiences. The most magic part about chamber music is sharing the musical experiences with your friends and then sharing it with everyone else, and this year has been full of musical and personal highlights.
Our Master and Virtuoso Series at The Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House and City Recital Hall have been met with great enthusiasm and we have been pleased to see so many of our loyal audiences and many new faces. We've also been busy with a number of other projects including recording Beethoven's Quintet for Piano and Winds, op.16 for ABC digital release in the near future. We also recorded Nielsen's Wind Quintet and we welcomed two new woodwind players to the Omega family, who'll continue to perform with us in 2018.
Maria's First Year as Co-Artistic Director
2017 saw Maria in her first year as Omega's Co-Artistic Director. From everything to programming to talking to audiences and working effortlessly behind-the-scenes (as well as playing thousands of notes on the piano), Maria has had a remarkable success in the day-to-day running of Omega. Maria has been superb in her day-to-day running of Omega, and organising all the things that happen around concerts. In fact, she even appeared on ABC radio with James Valentine where they had a fun time talking about page turning, which lead to a page-turning master class.
Maria with James Valentine at ABC Radio Studios.
As part of our commitment to new Australian music, Omega performed a number of new Australian works this year. We started the season with Ben Hoadley's Clarinet Quintet Broken Songs, and it received wonderful reviews from the press and our audiences, who loved it. We also performed Cyrus Meurants' Concertino for Clarinet and Strings in the Utzon Room and in the Taste of Omega concert series we gave the world premiere of Andrew Anderson's Miniatures, which was composed especially for us. Thank you, Andrew!
A Taste of Omega
It was a real treat to share bite-sized versions of Omega programs with the lunchtime audiences at City Recital Hall as part of their new lunch series. We had so many special guests in this series including the delightful soprano Lee Abrahmsen, our resident bassoonist and dear friend Ben Hoadley, cellist Teije Hylkema and Ian Munro, who stepped in at the last minute for our final taste of Omega in November. We had so much presenting these mini concerts to the many appreciative audiences who came along throughout the year.
Page Turning Masterclass
Before our biggest concert of the year, Schubert's Trout, Maria appeared on ABC radio with James Valentine and they got to talk about the art of page turning and our Chairman of the Board, Robert Titterton's special role as the official page turner (except that one time he was a away and Sam Cottell, our content manager, stepped in). Robert ran a page turning masterclass for our patrons, and it was hilarious! Rest assured, Robert is still Principal Chair of Page Turning for the 2018 season!
The Art Gallery of NSW
We were thrilled to be part of the The Art Gallery of NSW's Resonate Series where we performed our all Bernard Herrmann program. This was a great opportunity to present this unique chamber music to an Australian audience and to shed light on Herrmann's chamber music pieces (as not many people know much of his music outside of his film scores). We return to the Art Gallery of NSW in 2018 to premiere Ben Hoadley's opera, Miss Brill at the beginning of 2018 and we cannot for this exciting event.
In the Recording Studio
Omega has had a busy year in the recording studio as well! We recorded a few tracks at ABC studios for an up-coming digital release including Beethoven's Quintet for Piano and Woodwinds, Op.16 (stay tuned for details) and also recorded the world premiere of Andrew Anderson's Miniatures which he composed especially for us. Recording music for our audiences is very important to us, particularly with new Australian music ensuring that it gets heard beyond the concert hall and we simply love the process of recording new music.
Maria taking a break during the recording of Andrew Anderson's Miniatures
Each year we tour to regional areas of NSW and present concerts and masterclasses. This year we went to Mudgee and many other wonderful towns with many appreciative audiences. As well as performing we gave masterclasses to young students in regional towns of NSW and this is always a highlight for us. Maria kept a photo journal which we were delighted to share with you, which you can view here. We had a great time playing clarinet and piano repertoire to the appreciative regional audiences and we love taking our music out of Sydney and reaching new audiences. We also popped in to visit Huntington Estate wines, one of our sponsors, wine cellars in Mudgee.
First International Tour
This year was also super exciting as we did our first international tour to China, giving performances and masterclasses at the Beijing Central Conservatory, Chang Chun’s JiLin College of Arts and Dalian University. We were delighted start the tour with an appearance as part of the Beijing International Chamber Music Festival! David, Maria and Neil presented music by Mozart, Glinka and Schumann and gave masterclasses to the many talented and enthusiastic students. We loved our first international tour and made many new friends and hope to return there and perhaps some new places in 2018.
David learned how to Juggle a clarinet
Then there was that time that David demonstrated his juggling skills at a photoshoot, but decided to use his clarinet. To cut a long story short, he caught it and used it make some beuautiful music for the rest of the season!
David and Maria at a photoshoot
That wraps up our 2017 season and we are delighted to have shared this with you. We look forward to many more musical memories and sharing our great new program with you in 2018. Please follow the link below to explore our 2018 program and we hope to see you at some of our concerts.