Society News: July 2011


I was sorry to have missed our July concert but after a hectic season with Orchestra Victoria, I needed a short break. A week cycling to Beechworth and Bright has revived both energy and enthusiasm. Thank you to Laila Engle (flute), Julia Stoppa (clarinet) and Leigh Harrold (piano) for our July concert performance. The highlight for the audience seems to have been Richard Toensing’s stirring piece, “Children of the Light”.
Turning up the heat
The Wyselakie Auditorium got very cold by the end of the last concert. The Committee has now arranged for the heating to remain on during all future winter concerts.
New Committee Members Wanted
We have our AGM in September and the Committee would love to hear from any members who may have time and be interested in assisting with the running of the Society. Also, if you know people with accounting, marketing, media, events or other administrative skills who are not members but may be interested in volunteering as a member of the committee, please let me or the Secretary know.
Fundraising Thermometer
Help us to keep our artists fees fundraising thermometer growing by putting your gold coin in the box for the program.
There is limited parking immediately to the right on Morrison Close in front of the Centre. The first priority is for people with mobility problems and artists. If you are having difficulty finding a park in College Crescent try the car park, there may be space available.
I look forward to performing for you at the August concert, until then, enjoy your music!
Sarah Cuming

If you received a renewal letter with the last newsletter, your membership is now due. You can pay this at the August concert or by credit card at Try Bookings. You will need to click the online bookings link located on our website at


Tickets for members are only $10 and will be on sale at the August concert. This will be your last opportunity to get a ticket to this very special event.
The day’s program will commence at 2.00pm with a representative from the City of Melbourne launching the Society’s History Booklet written by committee member, John Perry OAM. All members will receive a copy either on the day or by post.
Jamie Hey (cello) and Elizabeth Anderson (harpsichord) will then perform a wonderful program arranged specially for the occasion and your enjoyment. The program includes:

J S Bach: Sonata in G major for viola da gamba and harpsichord BWV 1027
Francois Couperin: L’Exquisite 27th Ordre
J S Bach: Suite No.1 in G major for unaccompanied Cello BWV 1007
J S Bach: Allegro from the Sonata in D major for viola da gamba and harpsichord BWV 1028
A special celebratory afternoon tea will follow the performance.


The Aequales Ensemble featuring Edwina Kayser and Kirsty Greig, violins; Danny Neumann, viola; Sarah Cuming, cello; and Robin Baker, piano will perform an exquisite program featuring:
Theodore Dubois: Piano Quartet in A minor
Frank Bridge: Phantasy in F# minor for Piano Quartet
Giacomo Puccini: “Crisantemi” String Quartet
Dmitri Shostakovich: Piano Quintet

Memories of MICMC:Impressions of the 6th Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition

Imagine this musical experience: a mid-morning concert with two chamber groups, young, engaged in the music and engaging to watch, each performing two string quartets. Some of the works are familiar, but performed with fresh insight, while the unfamiliar provides an exciting and challenging experience. A quick lunch and a brief walk then back for the afternoon concert for more of same, but this time with piano trios. Then it’s off to an early dinner at a nearby eating place, only to find the other patrons were also at the concert – animated conversations between tables ensue. Afterwards it is back for an evening concert with more string quartets.
The next day is similar, but with different groups, different pieces, and the trying out a different eating place, and so on for several days. The whole experience is a rich one that will live in my memory until the next competition in four years’ time.
The Chamber Music Competition featured 16 groups, 8 piano trios and 8 string quartets, from around the world. The average age of each group was less than 30. The first two rounds were held at the South Melbourne Town Hall, the home of the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) before moving to the Melbourne Recital Centre for the finals. The town hall has a wonderful acoustic and specially tiered seating in the back half of the hall gave an excellent view of the performers, while the jury sat upstairs in the balcony.
Over the eight days of competition, 57 different pieces by 35 composers were performed, a true musical feast. In Round One, the groups each performed a work by Haydn or Mozart and a work of their own choice. Nearly all groups chose Haydn, but as he wrote so many trios and quartets, there were many delightful discoveries as well as the opportunity to hear the occasional piece played by different groups. The latter was a rewarding experience to contrast and compare interpretation and technique. Brahms and Mendelssohn were the other popular choices by the groups, but Schumann, Debussy and Shostakovich also got a guernsey.
In Round Two, the groups each performed a work written after 1989, and again, a work of their own choice. Some of the contemporary works presented a challenge to player and listener alike, but the players’ commitment was undeniable and the audience warmly appreciated their efforts. Nevertheless, from my point of view the worthiness of some pieces was questionable. As an exercise, I came up with the following set of tests for a piece of new music, indeed any music:

 If you heard the piece on the radio in the car, would you turn it off?
 If the piece was performed by a less able group, could you tell the difference?
 Do you want to hear the piece again?
 Do you think it is good that the piece was written?

With an arrogance born of musical ignorance, I gave most pieces two or three out of four. Roger Smalley’s piano trio, the compulsory piece from the first competition in 1991 and performed this time by the Stretton Trio, the only Australian group in the competition, stood the test of time.
It was inevitable as I listened to the groups and talked with others, I developed a view about which three groups in each section should proceed to the final. This enhanced my engagement with the competition. However it could be a frustrating exercise when ultimately, I found myself mystified by some of the jury’s decisions. It would be much better in hindsight just to sit back and enjoy a feast of quality music making one is not likely to see for another four years.
Going to this competition was like attending a music festival, with many regulars fronting up concert after concert. There were even a significant number of audience members from interstate and overseas.
If the prospect of such a competition entices you, you don’t need to wait four years. In between each international competition, Chamber Music Australia runs the Asia Pacific Chamber Music Competition. So you only need to wait until July 2013.

Dan O’Keeffe

Two Grands Four Hands Recital
Two of Australia’s most talented and rising young women pianists, Bonnie Brown and Louisa Breen will give two concerts together, as a Piano Duo at the South Melbourne Town Hall at 2.00pm and 8.00pm on Saturday, 6 August. They will perform:
Ravel: La Valse
Bernstein: West Side Story (arr. for two pianos)
The concession ticket discount for all Lyrebird Music Society members is $22. Tickets can be booked online: Enquiries 0414 097 290