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.


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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