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.
23/11 – Nicholas Hammond first appeared on Broadway at the age of just 11, and his career only opened up further from there, and never stopped. He’s worked all over the world on stage, film and television. He’s been in over 40 films, from Lord of the Flies to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, more than 250 TV shows, most notably the Amazing Spiderman, and he’s made an award winning documentary of the true story behind what is undoubtedly his most celebrated role, one which has given pleasure to millions of people for nearly 60 years – Freiderich von Trapp in the 1965 film The Sound of Music. The spirits of Rodgers and Hammerstein have visited him once again, as he is currently appearing as the Chamberlain Sebastian in Cinderella, playing now at the Lyric Theatre. Nicholas shares some amazing stories from all parts of his career, with particular attention paid to The Sound of Music, and his musical selections include some pieces which are very special to him.
Jonathan Biggins OAM
16/11 – An acclaimed actor, director and writer, Jonathan Biggins OAM has entertained audiences for decades with his wit, cheekiness, and a very healthy dose of irreverence. He’s played Peter Sellers, appeared in The Mikado, and directed Australian productions of Avenue Q and Noises Off. But his most well-known work is in political satire, as one of the brains behind, and a performer in, The Wharf Revue, which has been going strong since 2000. The Wharf Review is back, playing at the Seymour Centre until the 23rd of December, for their new show Looking for Albanese. Jonathan joins Simon Moore to share some stories from the world of satirical comedy from his long career, what’s changed and what hasn’t, the perils of impersonating someone who happens to be sitting in the audience in front of you, and presents a diverse selection of music that he’s encountered in his travels.
9/11 – Liesel Badorrek is a Sydney based writer, director and performer with a pretty diverse and wide ranging repertoire. She’s a founder of Loose Canon Arts, which has created new work for young people throughout Asia and the Middle East, has directed with the Darlinghurst Theatre and CDP Productions, and keeps thing real as a member of the all-woman comedy cabaret collective Six Quick Chicks. Somehow, she also finds time to work with Opera Australia, and with OA is now directing Carmen on Cockatoo Island, on for a limited season from the 25th o November to the 18th of December. In this conversation, Liesel lifts the lid on what we can expect from this unique event, and shares some fascinating tales and perspectives from the other parts of her career. Her music selections include some rather treasured favourites from her present and past.
2/11 – German baroque violinist Jonas Zschenderlein certainly got off to an early start. He’s been performing with professional ensembles since he was a teenager, around the same time as he began his own ensemble, 4 Times Barque. He’s played all over Europe, Asia and the Americas, from the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam to Carnegie Hall in New York, and he’s now performing at the City Recital Hall Angel Place, guest directing the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra for Bach’s Universe, until the 11th of November. For Jonas and the ABO, it’s a case of third time lucky, as the concerts have twice had to be cancelled because of Covid. In this conversation, Jonas shares some of his musical inspirations, some of which come from sources which might surprise. We also hear about his remarkable instrument, the importance of the music of JS Bach, and his early journey to performing the baroque violin. Photo: Keith Saunders
26/10 – One of Australia’s greatest writers, David Malouf has been publishing acclaimed novels, short stories, poetry, plays and opera librettos for over 50 years. He’s the recipient of countless awards – most notably the International Dublin Literary Award for Remembering Babylon in 1996, the Australian Prime Minister’s literary award in 2008, and in 2016 the Australia Council Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature. In the Australia Day 1997 honours he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia, for services to literature. He’s also a great lover of fine music, and in this conversation David shares some of his favourite music and what it means to him, talks about his writing and muses on the best ways to teach literature to young children. This program was recorded at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music in Townsville, where David was both an audience member and also entertaining audiences as part of the Festival’s Conversation series.
19/10 – Alexander Gadjiev is an exciting young pianist who is making waves across the world. He was the winner of the 2021 Sydney International Piano Competition, second place getter in the International Chopin Competition of the same year, including being awarded the side prize for best performance of a Chopin Sonata, and was the BBC New Generation Artist since 2019. In this conversation, Alexander gives some amazing insights into the craft of the pianist, introducing historic performances from some of the great pianists of the 20th Century and elaborates on why he favours those older recordings. He’s touring Australia until 13 November, thanks to the Sydney International Piano Competition.
12/10 – Anyone witness to the Australian theatre scene over the past five decades will know and love Geraldine Turner. Her long and distinguished career, most particularly in musical theatre, includes the original Australian productions of A Little Night Music and Chicago, and she’s also appeared in productions of Company, Oliver, Anything Goes, and The Mikado, to name just a few. She’s been in evergreen shows such as Don’s Party and Present Laughter, and is now appearing in the play which holds the record for having the longest West End run in history. Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap opened there in 1952, and it’s still running, interrupted only by the temporary shutdown caused by the Covid pandemic. It’s now playing now at the Theatre Royal Sydney for a very limited run before touring the rest of Australia. In this conversation, Geraldine shares some highlights from her incredible career, in particular the original and highly successful Australian run of Chicago, her numerous encounters with the late Stephen Sondheim, and some frank stories from her childhood in Brisbane. Her book, Turner’s Turn, A Disarmingly Honest Memoir, was released earlier this year.
Cheryl Barker AO
5/10 – An opera singer with an impressively long and distinguished career, Cheryl Barker AO has sung some of the key roles in the repertoire, perhaps most famously playing Mimi in Baz Luhrmann’s production of Puccini’s La Bohème, her incredible performances of Tosca, and creating the role of Sarah Miles in Jake Heggie’s The End of the Affair, in Houston. She and her husband, baritone Peter Coleman-Wright will be joining the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs under artistic director Brett Weymark for Glorious Puccini in the Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House on October 29. In this conversation, Cheryl speaks about her love of Puccini, shares some wonderful tales from her impressive career, and fills us in about Pacific Opera, the emerging artists program for young opera singers of which she is co-artist director along with Peter Coleman-Wright.
28/9 – To paraphrase The New York Times – the words “superstar” and “mandolinist” have not traditionally been seen together in the same sentence. However that has changed thanks to Avi Avital. He’s the first mandolin soloist to be nominated for a classical Grammy Award and is a driving force behind the reinvigoration of the mandolin repertoire. Over 100 compositions have been written especially for him, including 15 concertos. He’s played in all corners of the world, and has released 5 albums plus an EP on the Deutsche Grammophon label. Avi talks about his remarkable journey with the mandolin, from his early lessons in southern Israel from a teacher who was self-taught on the instrument, to having the chutzpah to dig into his own savings to record his first album in Berlin. He introduces a number of works that he specially wanted to share for this conversation, including a performance from one of his mentors which is not available in Australia. He is currently touring Australia with Musica Viva. Photo: Guy Hecht
21/9 – A remarkable violinist who has had an extraordinary career across three continents, Charmian Gadd started in humble beginnings on a farm in the Central Coast in the 1940s. She exploded onto the music scene as a teenager, and went on to play with such luminaries as Yehudi Menuhin and Neville Marriner, living in the UK and the USA before coming back to Australia in the late 80s. Her contribution to music has not just been as a performer, having also held positions at the Canberra School of Music and the Sydney Conservatorium. She turned 80 in January this year, which ended up being an extra special birthday as she was awarded a Medal in the Order of Australia for services to music in this year’s Australia Day Honours. Charmian tells some wonderful stories from her long and remarkable career, and provides some lovely choices of music from performers that are particularly special to her.
Naseema Sparks AM
14/9 – Naseema Sparks AM is an experienced company director whose passion for the arts led her to take on key leadership roles at board level in organisations such as the Sydney Biennale and the Sydney Dance Company. Now chair of Sydney Living Museums and Music in the Regions, one of our newest arts organisations, she has said “the arts is my balance, it’s good for the soul”, which is a sentiment we can all agree with! In this conversation, Naseema speaks about the works of Sydney Living Museums and Music in the Regions, her passion for Australian composers, and how the she became involved with the arts at board level. Her musical selections include a rarity from Sydney’s colonial past – just a small part of the ongoing projects conducted by SLM.
7/9 – Lyndon Terracini has certainly left his mark on Australian opera – and he’s not done yet. He has been Artistic Director of Opera Australia since 2009, however his association with opera goes back decades, having first appeared with the company as a baritone in the 1970s. His operatic career took him to his ancestral home of Italy, though he made frequent visits back to Australia to perform here too. Lovers of opera will be aware that he’s about to embark on his final year as Opera Australia’s artistic director. The 2023 season has just launched, and Lyndon joins Simon Moore to give a preview of the season, plus share some remarkable tales of his transformative years at Opera Australia and his career as an opera singer. He also eloquently introduces his music selections, which include some seminal performances from some of history’s best singers.
31/8 – For Eric Whitacre, everything seems possible. The music of this Grammy-award winning composer and conductor has been performed in all corners of the world. He has united 100,000 singers in more than 145 countries for his ground breaking Virtual Choirs, his debut album as a conductor, Light and Gold, went straight to the top of the charts, and he’s even collaborated with NASA – his composition Deep Field having been inspired by the Hubble Telescope, leading him to work on a film seen at arts and science festivals across the globe. In this conversation, Eric talks about The Sacred Veil, which he is coming to Australia to conduct with the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs at the Sydney Opera House. We also hear insights about his composing and his unorthodox entry into the classical genre, the Virtual Choirs projects, his public speaking, plus he eloquently introduces a diverse selection of pieces which have inspired him over the years.
24/8 – One of Australia’s most celebrated violinists, Brendan Joyce is the artistic director of Camerata, Queensland’s Chamber Orchestra. His leadership has been described by critics as both dynamic and indefatigable, which is why it’s unsurprising he often appears around Australia with such organisations as the Orchestra of the Antipodes, Van Diemen’s Band, and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. In this conversation, Brendan talks about helping to rebuild and reinvigorate Camerata under his leadership, with diverse and ground-breaking repertoire, including new Australian commissions. He also shares some amusing stories of his upbringing in regional Queensland and his period in the United States.
17/8 – A violinist who has performed on every continent, Adelaide-born Daniel Dodds is the Artistic Director of Festival Strings Lucerne. He’ll be back in Australia shortly to appear as Concertmaster of the Australian World Orchestra under the baton of Zubin Mehta, for performances in Melbourne on the 31st of August and Sydney on the 2nd of September. It is said he elicits “joie de vivre” from fellow musicians and audiences alike, which is apparent in the positivity he expresses about his playing and the repertoire he’s chosen to share with us in this conversation, which includes several private recordings of his past performances.
11/8 – Australian soprano Amy Manford has already played Christine Daaé in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera on the West End and in Athens, and is about to appear in the upcoming production at the Sydney Opera House and the Arts Centre in Melbourne. She also co-runs MM Creative Productions, which produced Disney in Concert A Dream is a Wish, in Perth last year in which she also appeared. An edited version of this conversation was broadcast on Fine Music Breakfast on 11 August, however as Amy was so delightful to speak with, the interview went overtime, so the complete interview appears here as an In Conversation bonus episode.
10/8 – The musical theatre scene in Australia and around the world owes a great deal to Guy Simpson. He has been supervising productions of The Phantom of the Opera for over 30 years around the world, from South Africa to New Zealand, Brazil to the Philippines. He has a similarly long association with productions of Miss Saigon, and has been instrumental in countless others – from the larger scale, like Evita and West Side Story, to the intimate, such as Anna O’Byrne’s recent one woman show Becoming Eliza, who was a guest on In Conversation back in May. Fresh from being conductor of the recent Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour production of Phantom, he’s music supervisor of the upcoming production inside the Opera House, which begins on 19 August. Guy gives us a preview of the production, and tells some fascinating stories from the rest of his incredible career.
3/8 – This week, In Conversation is on tour, coming to you from the Australian Festival of Chamber Music, in Townsville, which runs until this Sunday, 7 August. The Festival’s new Artistic Director is British/German Violinist Jack Liebeck. His music ranges from the intricacy of Mozart through to the passion of contemporary Australian works by Brett Dean. He’s on a whopping 17 albums, including playing on the film scores of Jane Eyre and Anna Karenina, has a keen interest in science to the extent that he’s collaborated with Professor Brian Cox, and he’s been described as possessing “flawless technical mastery”. Jack shares with Simon Moore his vision of the Festival, taking to the violin as a natural which had him playing Paganini concertos within a couple of years, plus some fascinating thoughts on performance and bringing classical music to a wide audience. Photo: Andrew Rankin
Simon Burke AO
27/7 – An actor whose career on the stage, film and television is approaching half a century and still going strong, Simon Burke burst onto the scene in the highly acclaimed Devil’s Playground at the age of 13. He won the AFI Award for Best Actor for that performance – still to this day the youngest person to receive that honour. His career since has included appearances on television which are embedded in the Australian psyche – from The Sullivans through to Rake and everything in between, including the remarkable Brides of Christ, and of course Play School. He’s got a long list of stage credits here and overseas, in both straight and musical theatre – as Marius in the original Australian run of Les Misérables, Phantom of the Opera on the West End, and includes other musical theatre mainstays such as The Sound of Music and A Little Night Music. He’s currently in what could be regarded as the hottest show in town, appearing as Harold Zidler in Moulin Rouge! The Musical, playing now at the Capitol Theatre.
Hayden Tee is not just a triple threat, he’s more of a quadruple one – an actor, singer, make-up artist, and also now a director. He knows a thing or two about musical theatre, having played Javert in Les Miserables in multiple countries, including on the West End and Broadway as well as in Australia. He’s appeared in Matilda, South Pacific, My Fair Lady, and Into the Woods, to name just a few, his cabaret shows have been a hit in New York and in Australia, and he’s released three albums. Based in New York, Hayden is in Sydney to direct the musical Jekyll and Hyde, on at the Hayes Theatre from the 29th of July.
13/7 – One of Australia’s most beloved and renowned pianists, Simon Tedeschi has played with all the major Australian orchestras, and is a seasoned chamber musician and collaborator too. He’s recorded a vast swath of albums covering music from JS Bach and Domenico Scarlatti to Mark Isaacs and Mike Nock, with a decent chunk of George Gershwin too. He’s also a writer, with his first book, Fugitive, published in May, simultaneous with winning the Calibre Essay prize for his essay This Woman, My Grandmother. In this wide-ranging conversation, Simon discusses his writing, including the award-winning essay about his late grandmother, a Holocaust survivor, and reveals what it’s like to learn more about a loved one after their death than was ever known while they were still alive. Also, he compares his writing with his music, and how his early experiences as a proclaimed child prodigy began to shape his psyche and his career. Simon is one of the 2MBS Fine Music Sydney artistic patrons, and is a long-time friend of the station.
6/7 – Australia’s foremost Indigenous classical composer and performer, William Barton has performed internationally with the London and Berlin Philharmonia Orchestras, and in this country with all the premier orchestras. From Kalkadunga heritage, he has vastly expanded the horizons of the didgeridoo with his prodigious musicality. Simon Moore speaks to William as part of NAIDOC Week 2022. William shares insights about the importance of the instrument and how it varies in different parts of the country. He also talks about his experiences in the classical music industry and the importance his family had on his musical development, including his uncle who introduced him to the instrument. Listen out for his special live performance in the studio!
29/6 – American soprano Leah Crocetto continues to astonish audiences with her moving portrayals of opera’s greatest heroines. She has performed across America, in such seminal operas as Turandot, Otello and Norma, in venues from Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Centre to the Metropolitan Opera. She’s also sung the title role of Aida with Opera Australia, and is about to appear as Leonora in Il Trovatore. Leah has a particular love of music and shares some works that are very special to her which provide a soundtrack to her life. She speaks about her special relationship with her family which was vital to her path in becoming an opera star, and delights with stories from her career.
22/6 – Making his film debut in Wolf Creek 2, Philippe Klaus has been in such Australian dramas as Rake and Home & Away. He’s appeared on stage with the Old Fitz Theatre, and toured his one man show with the Adelaide and Melbourne Fringe Festivals. His next gig, though, is a bit of a contrast – appearing in the title role in Ibsen’s Peer Gynt, the next show from Endangered Production, from June 30 to July 3 at the Paddington RSL. It’s to be performed as it was meant to be – with singers, actors, dancers and a 30 piece orchestra – promising romance, sin, salvation, and some heavenly music. Philippe talks with Simon Moore about the upcoming production of Peer Gynt and shares great insights into acting for the different mediums of theatre, film and television, the extra skills one can acquire along the way, plus his love of jazz.
15/6 – A much-loved cellist who Australia has adopted from his native Finland, Timo-Veikko Valve (known as Tipi) came to this country to become principal cellist of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, a position he has held ever since. He spreads his wings far beyond the ACO, making frequent guest appearances with chamber groups across the country, and of course has played across Europe, North America and Asia. He’ll be featured as a soloist in the upcoming ACO tour titled simple “Bach”, and has been very busy in the recording studio too. In this conversation, Tipi shares his thoughts on some of his favourite works, including the CPE Bach Cello Concerto in A which he’ll be performing with the ACO this month. He also talks about the complex task of making recordings of his music and the joys of the Finnish sauna experience!
8/6 – Internationally renowned clarinettist David Rowden has performed throughout Europe, Asia, North America, as well as Australia. Not content with being just a soloist, he founded the Omega Ensemble, championing Australian musical talent, and has picked up plenty of APRA/AMCOS classical music nominations along the way. His playing has been described by critics as possessing “superb technique and artistry”. In this conversation with Simon Moore, David talks about his earlier career, and also takes a deep dive into CoLAB, the program which the Omega Ensemble has created for early-career composers to obtain direct industry experience in collaboration with the musicians of Omega Ensemble, and under the mentorship of leading professional composers.
1/6 – Through the Sydney Art Quartet, founder James Beck connects audiences with layered, multi-sensory experiences based on live music woven with contrasting art forms and the wider world of history, arts & sciences. In the pursuit of that goal, he’s performed over 150 original Art Quartet shows with a cross section of some of Australia’s most vibrant creative voices. Previously the Artistic Manager of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, he is well versed in bringing historic music artefacts to contemporary relevance. In this conversation, James demonstrates his ability to make the most complex and esoteric of ideas engaging and accessible, sharing witty and erudite stories of the art of creating and sharing music.
25/5 – Julia Fredersdorff is a violinist who has planted her flag very firmly with the Baroque violin – so much so, that she was the first student at the Victorian College of the Arts to study the instrument, separate from the modern violin. After a period in Europe playing with some of their finest ensembles, she returned to Australia to found the perfectly titled Van Diemen’s Band, as well as playing frequently as concertmaster with the Orchestra of the Antipodes, period string quartet Ironwood and baroque trio Latitude 37. In June, she is making a guest appearance with Bach Akadamie Australia. In this conversation, Julia shares some delightfully light-hearted stories about what attracted her to the Baroque violin, the formation of Van Diemen’s Band, and gives great insights into music of the era and performance technique.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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”.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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