With Simon Moore

Each week presenter Simon Moore spends an hour in conversation with one of the greatest musicians, singers, composers or conductors, along with up-and-comers and others who influence our arts landscape.


Anne Wood

18/5 – A multi-award winning actress, Anne Wood has been strutting the stage both here and overseas in musical theatre for over 30 years. Whether it’s Cats or Mamma Mia, Crazy for You or The Sound of Music, she’s covered the full spectrum of what the genre has to offer. Melbourne based, she’s currently in Sydney playing Madame Baurel in An American in Paris, currently playing at the Theatre Royal. Anne shares plenty of fun stories about her love of theatre and working in the industry, from her start in the 1980s in Cats, to the joys of the music of ABBA in Mamma Mia, in which she played the lead role of Donna for a total of three years across several productions.

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Anna O’Byrne

11/5 – A soprano and actress who has established an international career spanning opera, theatre, concert and film, Anna O’Byrne has performed with the likes of Anthony Warlow and Emma Thompson, sung for Charles and Camilla, and appeared in everything from West Side Story to Barnum, and Guys and Dolls to A Little Night Music. But her most well-known role on these shores was as Eliza Doolittle in the 60th Anniversary production of My Fair Lady, at the Sydney Opera House, for which she won the Helpmann Award for Best Female Actor in a Musical. Anna appears at the Playhouse of the Sydney Opera House in her own one-woman show, Becoming Eliza, from 9-12 June. In this conversation, Anna shares stories of working with and learning from her childhood idol Julie Andrews, her remarkable start in The Phantom of the Opera, only a few weeks after finished her degree, plus being part of the recreation of the role of Christine Daaé for Love Never Dies when it got its second start in Melbourne.

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Leah Purcell AM

4/5 – An internationally acclaimed playwright, screenwriter, director, novelist and actor, not to mention cultural icon and activist, Leah Purcell stands at the forefront of the Indigenous cultural renaissance and protest movement. A proud Goa-Gungarri-Wakka Wakka Murri woman, she is well known to audiences in Australia and around the world for her many roles, including in Wentworth, Redfern Now, Jindabyne and Lantana. In this conversation, Leah takes a deep dive with Simon Moore into her new film, The Drover’s Wife the Legend of Molly Johnson, which is in cinemas from 5 May. Leah talks fondly about how her mother would read the original Henry Lawson short story to her as a child, and she gives incredible insights into her inspiration and the creation of the film, which she developed from her own play and novel. She often talks emotionally and with great candour about her own experiences and those of her family, which informed the expansion of the story from the original.

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Francesca Hiew

25/4 – Brisbane born Francesca Hiew was quite the child prodigy. Her career took her to the United States at the age of just 9 and in her later studies she won every chamber music competition she entered – often twice! She’s appeared as soloist with the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra and Orchestra Victoria, was part of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and is now one quarter of the Australian String Quartet. Francesca speaks with Simon Moore about her intensely musical upbringing, her love of chamber music, and how she learnt that sometimes it’s possible to practice too much. Photo credit: Jacqui Way

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Skye McIntosh

April 20 – A sought after specialist in baroque and classical period violin in Australia, Skye McIntosh is the founder, artistic director and principle violin of the Australian Haydn Ensemble. For the last decade, they’ve made their mark on historically informed performance practice in this country. Skye speaks with Simon Moore about one of Haydn’s greatest works, The Creation, and talks about her own journey falling in love with period instruments and performance practice which led to the birth of the Australian Haydn Ensemble.

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Dene Olding

April 13 – One of Australia’s most distinguished violinists, Dene Olding has a long history with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, having been their Concertmaster for two separate stints. He’s performed as a concerto soloist in Australia and internationally, whether it be performing the great concertos of the past or premiering new works. A member of the Australia Ensemble, he’s also first violinist of the renowned Goldner String Quartet. In this conversation, Simon Moore speaks with Dene about his long career after growing up in a household with two professional pianists. He also shares touching memories of his father, Max Olding, who passed away in late 2021. Photo credit: Keith Saunders

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John Bell AO OBE

April 6 – A celebrated actor and director, John Bell has been a driving force in the shape and direction of Australian Theatre for more than half a century. A former Associate Artist with the Royal Shakespeare Company in the UK, he’s performed all of Shakespeare’s seminal roles, often several times over. He’s also formed two theatre companies, one of which still bears his name. In this conversation, John Bell shares with Simon Moore some of the highlights of his long and distinguished career, the evolution of Australian theatre and the ever-changing craft of acting, plus provides an insight into what drew him as a teenager to William Shakespeare and why his works are so important to modern audiences. Photo: Pierre Toussaint

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Christopher Gordon

March 30 – A composer across a full spectrum of genres, Christopher Gordon has written for Australia’s leading orchestras, for major events such as the 2006 Commonwealth Games, has penned ballets, and scores for films such as Master and Commander, Mao’s Last Dancer and Ladies in Black. In this program, Christopher talks candidly with Simon Moore about his unorthodox entry into composing after recovering from alcoholism in his early adulthood, the ins and outs of writing music for the screen, as well as his new album with the simple and elegant title “Chamber Music”.

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Leonard Weiss

March 23 – An exciting and dynamic young conductor, Leonard Weiss is the inaugural winner of the Conductor NSW Orchestral Early Career Fellowship with the Sydney Youth Orchestras in conjunction with Create NSW. He was also recognised as the “rising star of 2020” by John Hopkins University during his time there, and has made a name for himself with the Canberra Sinfonia, and the Sydney, Queensland and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras, to name just a few. Leonard is incredibly articulate and entertaining, talking with Simon Moore about his artistic development with good humour, including his time with one of his mentors, Marin Alsop, when he was the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s Peabody Fellow.

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Callum Francis

March 16 – Callum Francis made the role of Lola in Kinky Boots his own, performing it on three continents, including on Broadway and the West End, and winning a Helpmann Award for Best Male Actor in a Musical for his performance on these shores. He’s also appeared in such seminal musicals as Rent, The Lion King and Miss Saigon. Callum features as Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera, on Sydney Harbour from March 25. In this conversation, he speaks candidly about the importance of being a person of colour cast as the romantic lead, and the charity We the Industry that he and his fiancé Ainsley Melham have set up to help promote greater representation and inclusion in the Australian theatre industry. We also hear the extraordinary story of his time playing Lola in Kinky Boots – hang onto your hats for his fantastic rendition of The Land of Lola!

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Emily Granger

March 9th – One of Australia’s leading harpists, Emily Granger has performed across the world, including as Principal Harp of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as well as with the Sydney, Tasmanian & Canberra Symphony Orchestras. She’s played for presidents and prime ministers, presented recitals from the Sydney Opera House to Carnegie Hall, and performed with international artists such as Yo-Yo Ma and Jonas Kaufmann. Simon Moore speaks with Emily about her new solo album “In Transit”, and they delve into her time growing up in Missouri and learning from some of the harp world’s greatest, gaining some insights into this beautiful instrument. Bring your hiking shoes – she does love a good walk!

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Constantine Costi

Mar 2nd – A regular director with Opera Australia, Constantine Costi was responsible last year for the triumphant production of La Traviata on Sydney Harbour. He’s worked with other leading Australian arts companies including Pinchgut Opera and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, and is co-artistic director of Red Line Productions at Sydney’s Old Fitz. Simon Moore spoke with Con in the lead up to him taking on Halevy’s La Juive with Opera Australia, to be performed on these shores for the first time. As well as giving some insights into this opera, he talks about his next show with Red Line, Kurt Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins & Mahagonny Songspiel, and shares stories from the earlier period of his career, creating guerrilla productions of operas in Newtown, plus his handy abilities with a fish and a filleting knife. La Juive is on at the Sydney Opera House from 9 to 26 March. The Seven Deadly Sins & Mahagonny Songspiel is on at the Old Fitz Theatre from 31 March to 23 April.

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Amber McMahon

Feb 23rd – Multi-Helpmann Award winner Amber McMahon plays Eve Kendall, one of the ultimate Hitchcock Femme Fatales, in the stage adaptation of North by Northwest at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre from the 9th of March. Simon Moore talks with Amber about the craft of acting. They delve into a 20 year stage career in which she has worked with Cate Blanchett, picnicked at Hanging Rock, and, of course, climbed Mount Rushmore in high heels.

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Vladimir Fanshil

Feb 16th – Vladimir Fanshill is a conductor who has fast established himself as a versatile artist covering the symphonic, operatic and ballet genres. He’s made a splash in Europe with such orchestras as the Mariinsky, the Budapest Festival Orchestra, and the Odessa National Philharmonic. He and his wife, soprano Eleanor Lyons, have more recently created Live at Yours, an exciting and ever growing project, bringing top quality artists to unique and intimate settings. Vladimir speaks with Simon Moore about the creation and development of Live at Yours, regales us with tales of studying in St Petersburg and working with luminaries like Simone Young and Iván Fischer, plus providing some significant insights into the creative process. This episode is an extended version of the broadcast edition, with additional interview content.

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Jeanell Carrigan

Feb 9th – Jeanell Carrigan is an Associate Professor in the Collaborative Piano Unit at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. She has performed throughout Australia and Europe as a soloist, chamber musician and collaborative duo partner. Her area of research is Australian solo piano repertoire and more recently in the piano music composed by early 20th Century Australian women composers. She’s released 32 albums of solo Australian piano and chamber works and has written several books. In this conversation, Jeanell speaks with Simon Moore in depth about her most recent project – the recording and publication of the first four piano trios written in Australia, by Australian composers, entitled Music for The Salon Trio.

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Todd McKenney

Feb 2nd – Here is a man who has entertained Australia for over 30 years. He’s danced on film in Strictly Ballroom, stepped into stilettos for the Rocky Horror Picture Show, donned top hat and whip for a tightrope-walking PT Barnum, and everything in between – including West Side Story, Singing in the Rain, The Pirates Penzance, Cabaret, and Anything Goes. But perhaps his most well-known performance has been to bring entertainer Peter Allen back to life in the original Australian production of The Boy From Oz. In this wide-ranging conversation, Todd speaks with Simon Moore about these varied roles, plus his start in show business, being a judge on Dancing with the Stars, as well as some of the parts he’s enjoyed a little less than others.

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Henning Kraggerud

It’s difficult to find a more well-rounded musician than violinist Henning Kraggerud. The Norwegian virtuoso has had a career that covers everything – a soloist, composer, arranger, improviser, plus he’s the Artistic Director of the Arctic Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra. This discussion, from when he was visiting Australia in 2017 to guest direct the Australian Chamber Orchestra, provides some fascinating insights into his multi-faceted approach to music-making in his composing, arranging and improvising.

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Pekka Kuusisto

If you’ve ever had the chance to see Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto perform live, you’ll know he is quite the entertainer. It’s been said that he strips every piece, however familiar it is, back to first principles, and we get to hear it as if for the first time. At the time of this conversation in 2016, he had just been appointed artistic director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s emerging artists ensemble – ACO Collective – a position he held until 2019. A great friend of Australia and of the ACO, Pekka is always an absolute joy to talk to. In this program, he gets out his violin in the studio to underscore some of his points, and we even get a live performance of a Finnish folk tune.

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In Conversation with Olli Mustonen

Olli Mustonen is music’s ultimate triple threat – a virtuosic pianist, an extraordinary conductor, and an outstanding composer. He speaks about his start playing the harpsichord from the age of 5 in his native Finland, as well as sharing a story that a misprint in a program led him to having to rearrange one of his chamber works for full orchestra, and how he prefers the simple word “musician” to cover his many talents. This conversation is from 2016 when he was visiting Australia to guest direct the Australian Chamber Orchestra.

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In Conversation with Dean Bryant

Dean Bryant is a multi-award winning theatre director and writer. He has a string of directorial credits, including (with the Melbourne Theatre Company, where he was associate director from 2016 thru 2019): The Lady in the Van and An Ideal Husband; for Opera Australia Anything Goes; and for the Hayes he directed Assassins, as well as their debut production Sweet Charity, for which he won the Helpmann award for ‘Best Director of a Musical’, and to top it all off, he’s the worldwide Associate Director of Priscilla Queen of the Desert. His creativity doesn’t stop with direction, as he’s the co-writer of the musical version of Miles Franklin’s My Brilliant Career, as well as many others. He’s currently in Sydney directing Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along, which will be back at the Hayes Theatre at the conclusion of the present lockdown.

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In Conversation with Shane Placentino

Shane Placentino has made the move from ballet dancer, to choreographer, and now opera director. He began his career with the Australian Ballet in 1991, dancing the entire classical and contemporary repertoire. He went on to be with the Sydney Dance Company from 2002, but more recently he’s hung up his dance shoes and moved into direction with Opera Australia – currently being the Revival Director for Aida, which opened at the Sydney Opera House on 22 June, and is due to return again after the current lockdown.

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In Conversation with Sam Allchurch

Sam Allchurch is at the forefront of the next generation of choral music. In 2019, he became artistic director of the Sydney Chamber Choir at just 29, following in the footsteps of the late, great Richard Gill. He’s also Associate Artistic Director of Gondwana Choirs, and Director of Music at Christ Church St Lawrence which has a musical tradition going all the way back to 1845. He’s been praised for polished and deeply satisfying performances of smart and sophisticated programs.

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In Conversation with Natalie Aroyan

Natalie Aroyan is an Armenian-Australian soprano whose voice has graced the stages of Opera Australia as a principal artist since 2013. She has performed leading roles in Aida, La Boheme, Ernani, and Carmen, to name just a few. In 2019 she was nominated for a Helpman Award for Best Female Performer in a Supporting Role, and later this month, she will be hitting the stage once again as Odabella in Attila, Verdi’s story of Attila the Hun.

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In Conversation with Neal Peres Da Costa

Neal Peres Da Costa is Australia’s authority in historically informed performance on the keyboard. Whether it’s the harpsichord, fortepiano or organ, Neal has performed with all of this country’s leading ensembles, including the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, the Australian Haydn Ensemble, the Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra, and several of the top orchestras in this area internationally, most notably the Academy of Ancient Music and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. This month, he’ll be performing with Bach Akadamie Australia for JS Bach’s Obligato Sonatas. Neal talks us through the art and the science that is “historically informed performance”, how he came to be a passionate advocate for it, and the various historic keyboards he’s collected over the years.

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In Conversation with Josh Piterman

It’s 35 years since The Phantom of the Opera opened on London’s West End, making it one of the most successful musicals of all time. It was still playing there until Covid hit early last year, where Australian Josh Piterman was performing in the title role. Josh Piterman will be donning that famous mask once again in September, this time at the Joan Sutherland Theatre at the Sydney Opera House. Kicking off his career in The Ten Tenors, he’s appeared in musicals as diverse as West Side Story, Hairspray and Beautiful: The Carol King Musical, as well as having an Aria and iTunes number 1 album.

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In Conversation with Alexander Briger AO

Alexander Briger is a conductor who has worked with more orchestras than can be easily listed – pick an orchestra in Australia or Europe, you can be pretty certain he has conducted them, and that’s before you start adding his work with orchestras on other continents. He counts luminaries like Charles Mackerras and Pierre Boulez among his mentors. Alexander is back in Australia to once again conduct his brain child, the Australian World Orchestra, this June. In this episode, which is an extended version of the original broadcast edition, he talks candidly about coming out from under the shadow of his uncle, Charles Mackerras, the pressures he had in his younger days that led to overwork and illness, plus he shares his vast knowledge for his musical choices which include Benjamin Britten, Shostakovich, Brahms, and his particular speciality – Janacek. In 2016, Alexander became an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished services to the arts as a leading conductor, and as founder of the Australian World Orchestra.

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In Conversation with Amy Campbell

Amy Campbell is one of Australia’s most accomplished dance talents with a career spanning all areas of the entertainment industry. Her choreographic credits include Once, which is returning to the Darlinghurst Theatre from 3 June, In The Heights, Violet, Hair, An Act Of God, Spring Awakening, Oklahoma, Carmen. Later in the year, her new production of A Chorus Line is back after being suspended on the day of the premiere last year due to Covid lockdowns. She is also the Resident Director of Sydney’s production of Hamilton, the only production of this groundbreaking show currently playing anywhere in the world.

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In Conversation with Noel Cislowski AM

Noel Cislowski has a long and rich career as a teacher, lecturer, actor, producer, conductor and director. He has performed lead roles in musical comedy, and has appeared as narrator/singer in works such as Peter And The Wolf and Tubby the Tuba with the Sydney Symphony and Willoughby Symphony Orchestras. His passion for education is perhaps best expressed by the fact he is Chair of the Sydney Eisteddfod, one of the largest and most successful competitive performing arts festivals of its type in the world. In 2016, he became a Member of the Order of Australia for his services to the performing arts and community organisations.

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In Conversation with Belinda McFarlane

Violinist Belinda McFarlane is a stalwart with the London Symphony Orchestra. She’s come back to Australia to play with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, and in June will be appearing with the Australian World Orchestra. She talks with great passion about her role with the LSO’s Discover Team, which includes outreach into disadvantaged communities, helping to ensure that everyone can share in the joy of music.

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In Conversation with Van-Anh Nguyen

Van-Anh Nguyen is a passionate and versatile pianist, producer, composer – and fashionista! She’s performed around the world and released 8 albums, topped the classical iTunes chart in both the US and Australia, but spends most of her time between her home town of Sydney as well as her adopted second home of Los Angeles. She’s just embarked on an Australia-wide tour.

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In Conversation with Richard Carroll

Richard Carroll is a Sydney based director, writer and producer. One of the co-founders of the Hayes Theatre, his 2017 production of Calamity Jane won him a Sydney Theatre Award for Best Production of an Independent Musical, and a nomination as Best Director. His directing and producing credits also include Monty Python’s Spamalot, Oklahoma!, Gypsy, Sweet Charity, Mame, and Meet Me in St Louis. In 2019, his season of Once at the Darlinghurst Theatre Company was a sold out success, and is now making a return to Darlinghurst’s Eternity Playhouse from the 8th of June before embarking on a national tour.

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In Conversation with Derek Parker

Derek Parker has been a presenter at Fine Music Sydney for over 15 years, but his career in radio is far longer than that. He’s been a figure in broadcasting on radio and television for a staggering 70 years, but as if that’s not enough he’s also written over 50 books covering topics as diverse as the golden years of radio and erotic fiction. But sadly for us here at Fine Music Sydney, he and his wife Julia have decided to return to their native Britain. He will much missed, both on air and off!

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In Conversation with Francesco Ventrigli‪a‬

Francesco Ventriglia is a dancer, choreographer and artistic director. Making his premiere at La Scala, he’s performed with the Bolshoi Theatre, the Mariinsky Ballet, Grand Theatre du Geneve, the Venice Biennale. He became Europe’s youngest artistic director in 2010 when he was appointed by the Florence Opera House, and was the artistic director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet during the middle of the last decade. He’s now in Sydney as the co-founder and artistic director of the Sydney Choreographic Centre, which was launched in March, and has its premier performance this month at the Parramatta Riverside Theatres.

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In Conversation with Geoffrey Chard AM

Geoffrey Chard is a doyen of the opera world. He was part of the inaugural production of the Australian Elizabethan Trust Opera Company – the forerunner to Opera Australia – back in 1956. He never looked back, performing regularly with the Royal Opera Company at Covent Garden, the English National Opera as well as Opera Australia. Late last year he celebrated his 90th birthday. In this episode, Geoffrey regales us with tales of his long and rich career. In 1988 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for services to opera.

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In Conversation with Madeleine Easton

Madeleine Easton is a violinist internationally recognised for her versatility and expertise. She’s appeared as a soloist, concertmaster and director of some of the world’s most respected ensembles and orchestras. Her mentor John Eliot Gardiner described her as having “fire in her belly and a spirit of enterprise” – which probably helps to explain why she is now the founder and artistic director of one of Australia’s newest orchestras, Bach Akademie Australia.

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In Conversation with Brian Castles-Onion AM

Brian Castles-Onion is one of Australia’s most exciting and well-known opera conductors. His career expands internationally having worked at New York’s Metropolitan Opera and the Julliard School of Music. His love of opera began when he was just 4 years old, at which point his weekly accumulation of new LPs began, creating what is now one of the largest private collections of vocal recordings in the world. He’s worked with Sumi Jo, Kiri Te Kanawa, Placido Domingo, and in March and April he’s conducting La Traviata’s triumphant return to Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour. This episode is an extended version of the broadcast edition, with additional interview content.

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In Conversation with Paul Stanhope

Paul Stanhope is an Australian composer whose compositions have been heard all around the world. The winner of 4 APRA Australian Music Centre awards in instrumental, orchestral, choral and vocal categories, his 2014 work “Jandamarra: Sing for the Country” has been recognised as a milestone in Australian composition. Paul joined Simon Moore ahead of the premiere of his new masterwork, his Requiem, at the City Recital Hall.

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In Conversation with Susie Park

Susie Park is a violinist hailed by the Washington Post as “prodigiously talented”, and praised for her freedom and mastery. She’s been a soloist with countless orchestras around the world, from the Vienna Symphony to the orchestra Wellington, working with some of the world’s best conductors. She’s also spread her wings widely in the chamber music genre, being a former violinist with the Eroica trio, a member of CMS Two, and performing with many other chamber groups around the world.

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In Conversation with Emma Dunch

Emma Dunch made her name in the arts sector in New York, and returned to Australia in 2018 to become CEO of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Emma joined Simon Moore to talk about the challenges of having to temporarily vacate their home at the Sydney Opera House – as well as the current pandemic – but also the exciting new era for the orchestra as they welcome Simon Young as chief conductor and their plans for their 10th decade.

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In Conversation with Nicole van Bruggen

Clarinettist Nicole van Bruggen is co-artistic director of the Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra. She is a leader in the art of historically informed performance, and has performed extensively with some of Europe and Australia’s finest period instrument ensembles, including Concerto Copenhagen, the Netherlands Bach Society and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. This episode is an extended version of the broadcast edition, with additional interview content.

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In Conversation with Alexander Berlage

Alexander Berlage is an award-winning theatre director and lighting designer. His production of American Psycho won 9 Sydney Theatre Awards, including Best Direction of a Musical, an award he had also won the previous year. Alexander joined Simon Moore to talk about his creative process and his work, including his upcoming production of Young Frankenstein at the Hayes Theatre in Sydney.

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In Conversation with Guy Noble

Guy Noble is one of Australia’s most versatile conductors and musical entertainers; not only has he worked with all the major Australian orchestras, but also with artists as diverse as Yvonne Kenny and the Beach Boys. He’s also a broadcaster on the ABC, BBC, and the QANTAS in-flight classical channel. Guy joined Simon Moore to kick off the 2021 season of In Conversation.

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In Conversation with Brett Weymark

Brett Weymark is one of the foremost choral conductors in Australia. Since becoming music director of the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs in 2003, he’s conducted the Choirs in performances around Australia and all around the world. He’s led all of Australia’s state orchestras, as well as the Orchestra of the Antipodes, Sydney Youth Orchestra, and the Hong Kong Philharmonic. Brett joined Simon Moore for a very special edition of In Conversation – helping us celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven

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