Russian violinist Ilya Gringolts – Image via City Recital Hall

Sydney siders are spoilt for choice this February, as the city is jam packed with live music events. Here are some highlights of what’s happening throughout the month.

Tuesday February 7: Chamber Philharmonia Cologne – Vivaldi Mozart Paganini
St Patricks Cathedral (1Marist Place, Paramatta, NSW 2150)
The Chamber Philharmonia Cologne return to Australia this year once again with a delightful programme. In the first half the orchestra will perform the famous “Four Seasons“ by Antonio Vivaldi (4 Concertos for Violin and Orchestra) with a joyful performance full of temperament played by Sergey Didorenko, the concertmaster and leading soloist of the Chamber Philharmonia Cologne. After the interval the Orchestra is going to play one of the three “Salzburg Symphonies“ by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Dmitrij Gornowskij, winner of several worldwide competitions will perform the challenging piece “Moses-Variations“ by Niccolò Paganini. A piece, one of a kind, gracefully played only on the A String. The concert will be finished with a technical and musical firework, the “Introduction & Rondo Capriccioso“ by Camille Saint-Saëns, once again performed by Sergey Didorenko on the violin.

Tuesday February 7 / Wednesday February 8 / Thursday February 9: Ilya Gringolts plays Bruch w The Australian Chamber Orchestra
City Recital Hall (2 Angel Place, Sydney NSW 2000)
The Bruch violin concerto is one of the most popular Romantic concertos, beloved for its drama, lyricism and passion. It’s an emotional journey from folk-inflected start to heart-swelling finish. After electrifying audiences with his Paganini in 2018, Ilya Gringolts returns to bring you Bruch, arranged for strings and timpani, and confirm his
reputation as one of the most thrilling violinists on the planet.

Ilya’s virtuosity is equally at home in Frank Martin’s pivotal and spiritually uplifting 20th-century masterwork Polyptyque for violin and double string orchestra. This six-part meditation on episodes from Christ’s life was written for Yehudi Menuhin. Ilya makes it his own. Hot off the press is a work by young Sydney-based composer Harry Sdraulig, while the Concerto for String Orchestra from Poland’s Grażyna Bacewicz puts the ACO’s brilliance in the spotlight with life-affirming vigour, optimism and shimmering beauty.

Saturday February 11: Brenda Gifford’s ‘Dundun Firestick’ featuring Sandy Evans and Friends
Bondi Pavilion (Queen Elizabeth Dr Bondi Beach, NSW 2026)
First Nations composer and saxophonist Brenda Gifford’s work is deeply connected with her relationship to country, community and culture.

Bringing the concert to life, alongside Gifford are leading Australian jazz musicians Sandy Evans, Gary Daley, Chloe Kim, and Jacques Emery. In a moving exchange of artistry and precision, together they’ll beautifully breathe life into a stunning collection of original compositions.
Each musician is a virtuoso in their own right, each with their own distinct lived experience. This music will have a transcendent resonance with people from all cultures, as the musicians explore themes of country, culture, lived experience and reconciliation.

Sunday February 19: Heritage By Ghulam Ali Live in Sydney
Sydney Town Hall (483 George St, Sydney NSW 2000)
Ghulam Ali is considered to be the only legendary ghazal singer of his era. His style and variations in singing Ghazals has been noted as unique, as he blends Hindustani classical music with ghazals, unlike any other ghazal singer. Highly popular in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, as well as among South Asian diaspora in the US, the UK and the Middle Eastern countries.

Many of his hit ghazals have been used in Bollywood movies. His famous ghazals are Chupke Chupke Raat Din, Kal Chaudhvin Ki Raat Thi, Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa, Chamakte Chand Ko, Kiya Hai Pyar Jisé, May Nazar Sé Pee Raha Hoon, Mastana Peeyé, Yé dil yé pagal dil, Apni Dhun Mein Rehta Hoon a ghazal by Nasir Kazmi, “Ham Ko Kiske Gham Ne Maara”. His recent album “Hasratein” was nominated in the Best Ghazal Album category at Star GIMA Awards 2014.

Saturday February 18: Sydney Symphony Orchestra: Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade
Sydney Opera House (Bennelong Point, Sydney NSW 2000)
Captivating stories and high drama abound as Simone Young conducts Scheherazade and Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand with Cédric Tiberghien.

From its suspense-filled opening, Scheherazade plunges you into a world of high drama. Colourful scenes unfurl around you, a twist at every turn, all gorgeously carried by musical themes that have influenced artists the world over. Rimsky-Korsakov uses musical cliff-hangers to dazzling effect in his retelling of this classic tale about the power of story to transport us. It’s hard not to be moved by this music, especially with Chief Conductor Simone Young leading us to a place so captivating.

In his Concerto for the Left Hand, Ravel embraced the challenge of writing for Paul Wittgenstein, a war veteran who had lost an arm. Ravel created an epic work – a triumph of artistry that places no limits on expression. Cédric Tiberghien, who frequently collaborates with Simone Young, has performed this piece with the Berlin Philharmonic and brings his masterful interpretation to Sydney. Award-winning composer Unsuk Chin draws inspiration from Ravel in Frontispiece, a work full of drama and surprise providing a spectacular opening for this vibrant program.

Thursday February 23 – Sunday February 25: Disney 100: The Concert
The Great Hall, Sydney Opera House (Bennelong Point, Sydney, NSW 2000)
A Century of magical moments. Be dazzled as a cast of Australian musical theatre stars, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and maestra Jessica Gethin bring your favourite Disney animated film scores to life. Featuring hit songs from Cinderella, Beauty & the Beast, The Lion King, Moana, Encanto and many more, join us as original Disney film footage is projected live on the big screen at the Sydney Opera House.

Friday February 24 – Friday March 10: Australian Brandenburg Orchestra – Spanish Steps
City Recital Hall (2 Angel Place, Sydney NSW 2000)
Few places in the world express inspiration and romance the way the Spanish Steps in Rome do, for centuries a meeting place for painters, musicians, poets and lovers.

Meet us at the world’s most famous staircase, at the base of the Piazza di Spagna in this spectacular concert starring the leading Canadian-American cellist Elinor Frey in her Australian debut. Awarded Quebec’s Opus Prize for ‘Performer of the Year’ in 2021, Elinor reveals the rich and wondrous sounds of the Baroque cello in rarely performed works by Boccherini and Sammartini.

The Italian-born Boccherini’s deep affinity with Spain is vividly alive in his music – the bustle, distant lulls and night noises of Madrid. Musical connections symbolised by the sweep of the Roman Baroque style Spanish Steps linking the Piazza di Spagna (the Spanish Embassy – the oldest in the world) with the Chiesa di Trinità dei Monti, one of Rome’s most popular tourist destinations.

Sunday February 26: The Marais Project + Duo Langborn/Wendel | Nordic Moods and Baroque Echoes
Sydney Conservatorium of Music (1 Conservatorium Rd, Sydney NSW 2000)
Building on their decade-long commitment to performing and recording Scandinavian baroque and folk music, The Marais Project is proud to announce a new collaboration with leading Swedish artists, Duo Langborn/Wendel with a Sydney and regional NSW tour in February 2023.

Sponsored by the Swedish Arts Board for International Exchange, Duo Langborn/Wendel consists of the unusual combination of baroque violin, played by Catalina Langborn, and percussionist Olof Wendel, who specialises in the rarely heard cimbalom – an instrument he will be playing when he visits this country.

“Catalina is one of the most sought-after Baroque violinists and concertmasters in Sweden,” said The Marais Project’s Jenny Eriksson. “She regularly leads celebrated ensembles such as Drottningholms Barockensemble and Göteborg Baroque. She is also an expert on, and composes, Swedish folk music.”

Australian viola da gambist, Jenny Eriksson – whose grandfather was Swedish – and Swedish-born lutenist/guitarist Tommie Andersson, have been bringing Scandinavian music to Australian audiences for more than a decade. They are joined by singer/violinist, Susie Bishop, who speaks (and sings!) Swedish. The Marais Project’s 2015 popular album of Swedish classical, baroque, and folk music, Smörgåsbord, spent three months in the Australian Top 20 Classical Music Charts.

Friday February 26: Chris Cody – Astrolabe ‘A Summer Voyage’ + Julien Wilson – Meditations & Mutations
The Great Club (160-164 Livingstone Rd, Marrickville, NSW 2204)
Astrolabe is a musical account of the voyages of French explorer La Perouse, who landed in Botany Bay during the Summer of 1788. Chris Cody’s work draws upon jazz, classical and world music to take audiences on a vibrant and exciting musical odyssey.
Inspired by La Perouse’s amazing voyage through the Pacific regions of North and South America, Asia and Australasia, the music delves into differently imagined times, cultures and places to convey the emotions Chris felt after reading the ship journal.

Julien Wilson’s Sydney premiere of his spontaneous solo adventures without maps, taking listeners to places both wild and peaceful. Recorded during Melbourne’s interminable lockdowns, the pair of solo albums called ‘Meditations’ and ‘Mutations’ are melodic electroacoustic cinematic soundscapes created using just woodwinds and electronic effects.

Sunday February 28: Zenith Sunday Sessions: Joseph Tawadros
Zenith Theatre and Convention Centre (Mcintosh St &, Railway St, Chatswood NSW 2067)
The ARIA Award-winning Joseph Tawadros AM is a renowned multi-instrumentalist and master of the oud, a Middle Eastern lute.

Challenging traditional musical forms, and pushing boundaries in meter and melody, this acclaimed quartet bring an exciting performing dynamic to the stage. Joseph’s original works, incorporating fusion, take inspiration from the Arabic modal system (maqam) and blend them seamlessly with elements of western classical, jazz, world, folk and even metal and bluegrass.

From thrilling and furiously paced numbers to beautifully introspective and tranquil tracks, it is woven together by Joseph’s trademark virtuosity and lyricism and the striking contemporary musicality of his oud.