Stefan Cassomenos, composer & pianist Sarah & Monica Curro, violins Chris Cartlidge, viola & Dan Curro, cello


2.00pm Sunday, 5 August 2012
29 College Crescent, Parkville

Year Composer Title Group
1986 BrentonBroadstock Down the Emperor’s Road Woodwind Quartet
1989 Felix Meagher The Glugs of Gosh Wind Quartet
1990 Anne Shirley Peel Selection of poems by Gwen Harwood Soprano, Violin, Guitar
1991 Stuart Greenbaum String Quartet No. 1 String Quartet
1992 Peter Twilley String Trio No. 2 ‘Song of Autumn’ String Trio
1993 Robert Trumble String Quartet No. 4 String Quartet
1994 ChristineMcCombe Songs of truth and loneliness Piano
1996 Tullia AshtonLomax Night Road Soprano, Piano
1997 Tim Davies Twine Flute, Clarinet,Bassoon
1999 Estelle Pizer Unveiled – String Quartet No. 1 String Quartet
2000 Wendy Hiscocks Unseen Dances Piano Duet
2000 Robert Trumble Quartet Oboe, String Trio
2001 William Hughes La Alcoforado Violin, Cello, Piano
2002 David Horowicz Piano Quartet in C Piano Quartet
2003 Jane Hammond Two’s company Clarinet, Violin, Piano
2004 Tim McKenry ‘Lament’ Tenor, Soprano,Piano, Saxophone,Marimba
2005 Dennis Vaughan Seven Interludes from the Third Stone String Quartet
2006 Natalie Williams Songs of the Glass Bead Game Voice, Strings
2007 James Wade A Stillness Clarinets, Violin, Piano
2008 Katy Abbott The Empty Quarter Percussion, Cello
2009 Lorenzo Alvaro Piano Trio No.2 ‘Hidden Dimensions’  Piano Trio
2010 Peter de Jager Elegy Trio Piano, Viola, Oboe(doublingCorAnglais)
2011 Calvin Bowman Leunig Songs –  Real Right and True Soprano, Piano

The Curro Quartet made its debut in 2001 performing Mendelssohn and Haydn at an in house concert at the Curro family home in Brisbane.  They were Sarah, Monica and Dan, with their father John on viola.  In 2007, the siblings came together again and this time violist Ceridwen Davies braved the Curro quartet in a fascinating concert of Australian Composers of the 19th Century at the State Library.

That same year the Curro Quartet reunited for the Shostakovich Chamber Music Cycle at the Australian National Academy of Music organised entirely by Monica. Sarah had agreed ONLY to play Shostakovich Quartet No 15 because she had no particular desire to play string quartets the way many others dream of doing.

The viola player for that concert was the wonderfully soulful ANAM student SuYing Aw.  Monica then somehow convinced Sarah to play a further three quartets to fill in the remaining gaps in the series. Theincredible Erkki Veltheim joined to play Shostakovich’s fourth, sixth and unfinished Quartets.  The siblings inspired by the musical mastery that was Erkki Veltheim and his ability to control and temper the potentially irrational Curro atmospheredecided that whether Erkki was part of the quartet or not, they would henceforth be the Veltheim Quartet.

This confused many people as there are always three Curros and only one non-Curro and it is possible, it could be seenas disrespectful towards the viola player whoever that may be. Last year, after submitting their program to the 4MBS Chamber Music Festival as The Veltheim Quartet, for which Chris Moore was the viola player, the programmers proceeded to announce them as The Curro Quartet.  Once again, their effort to pay homage not only to the great Erkki Veltheim but also to all viola players who take on the Curro challenge were thwarted. The glamorous Lauren Brigden saved us from a viola-less event when the very same Erkki Veltheim became unavailable for the 3rdBrunswick Beethoven Festival in 2009.

This quartet changes viola players more often than a rock band change drummers. For this Lyrebird Commission Concert, the quartet is delighted again to work with their current favourite drummer, Christopher John Barrington Cartlidge.

That issue aside, there is the question of who will play first violin and who will play second violin.  In the Curro family, the Seniority Rule always applied to which child got to travel in the front seat of the car, but not so here.  It is Monica’s firm belief that she is and always will be what is called a Career 2nd Violinist and maybe even a viola player someday but never a 1st violinist.  This suits Sarah fine since everyone knows she would only try and drive from the back seat anyway.

Meet the Composer& Pianist cont.

As a pianist, Stefan has appeared as a soloist throughout Europe and Asia, and regularly performs recitals and concertos around Australia. His 2007 London debut was reviewed in Musical Opinion as ‘alive, passionate, and dramatic … As if the pianist’s life depended on it … A prodigious London debut by a formidable talent.’ In 2012, Stefan was a grand finalist in the Rhodes International Piano Competition. 2012 engagements include solo recitals in London, Rome, Auckland, Wellington, Brisbane and Perth, several recitals around Victoria and in Melbourne, and concerti with the Monash Academy Orchestra, Orchestre Nouveau, Waitakere Symphony Orchestra (NZ), and Orchestra 21.

Stefan is also active as an Artistic Director and Conductor. He was Artistic Director of the 2007 Melba Festival in the Yarra Valley, Guest Artistic Director of Melbourne’s Piano Landmarks Festival 2009-10, Conductor of the Percy Grainger Youth Orchestra 2010-11, Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Chamber Strings of Melbourne for 2011, and founding director of Creativity Australia’s ‘Our Community Sings’ Choir for 2011.

Stefan is generously supported by Kawai Australia, Creativity Australia, and the Youth Music Foundation of Australia.


Cassomenos: String Quartet No. 1(Premiere)

  1. Moderato con anima II. Grazioso
  • Allegro molto
  1. Grave


 Shostakovich: Piano Quintet in G minor Op. 57

  1. Prelude
  2. Fugue
  • Scherzo
  1. Intermezzo
  2. Finale

The Society and the Lyrebird Commission

The Lyrebird Music Society Inc is a ‘not-for-profit’ music society registered in Victoria as an Incorporated Association. It was formed in 1921 by music enthusiast and philanthropist Louise Dyer (1884-1962), under the name of The British Music Society of Victoria, as an autonomous local chapter of a parent society in the United Kingdom, which had branches throughout the British Empire.  The parent body foundered in 1933, since when the Society has been completely independent. The music presented at the Society’s concerts is universal in nature, embracing all forms of fine chamber music.

The objective of the Society is to promote the appreciation of fine chamber music by presenting an annual series of concerts to its members, their guests, and to the public. These concerts are always of a high standard, featuring professional artists, mostly from Melbourne.

New works are encouraged through the awarding of the annual Lyrebird Commission for Compositionto an Australian composer and the presentation of the commissioned work at a public concert.

The Commission for Composition by the Society dates as a separate award only from 1996.  For some years prior, the Australian Natives’ Association sponsored the writing of an original musical composition organised and presented by the Society.  This sponsorship was ended in October 1994.

The award is for a composition of a chamber work of approximately ten to fifteen minutes in length, for solo, or any combination of performers (up to four).  The prize includes an award of $1500, and the Society provides the artists fees for the first performance of the commissioned work, usually at its October concert.  Artists arechosen in consultation with the successful applicant.

The Society gratefully acknowledges The Robert Salzer
Foundation for its generous contribution to the 2011 Lyrebird Commission.


Meet the Composer& Pianist

Melbourne pianist, conductor and composer Stefan Cassomenos has been writing music since the age of seven, and performing his music internationally since the age of ten. As a child he performed his piano compositions overseas on five occasions, representing Australia in Yamaha Junior Original Concerts, including a UNICEF Benefit Concert in 1997 in Tokyo. In 1999, Stefan was selected for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) Young Composers Program, culminating in a workshop performance of his composition Diaspora, performed in April 2010 by the MSO. Stefan was invited to perform his Piano Concerto No. 1, Aegean Odyssey, with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra for the 2001 ASME Futures Project. In 2002, in his final year at school, Stefan premiered his Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Melbourne Grammar School Symphony Orchestra.

Stefan’s early composition tutors included Keisuke Watanabe, Fred Fujiwara, Stuart Greenbaum, Tony Gould, and Martin Rutherford. In his tertiary studies Stefan chose to focus on piano performance, however he continues to write music and his compositions are regularly commissioned and performed by a number of orchestras and chamber ensembles.

From 2007-09, Stefan wrote several pieces for The Yarra Trio, that were performed extensively throughout Australia and internationally. In 2009, Patma Music commissioned and performed his Trumpet Concertino. In 2010, his Fanfare for Brass Ensemble commissioned by the Australian Music Association was performed at the Melbourne International Brass Festival.

Stefan was Composer-in-Residence for Creative Universe’s CI-2010 Conference, culminating in the premiere of his Piano Concerto No. 3, The Art of Thought, at the Melbourne Recital Centre. In 2012, in addition to being awarded the Lyrebird Music Society’s Commission, Stefan completed two other works – a commission for the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir culminating in three performances of his new work Hieratikon, and a Double Violin Concerto written for Sarah & Monica Curro to perform on electric and semi-acoustic instruments designed and made by Melbourne luthier Paul Davies. The concerto was premiered in May with Melbourne ensemble Orchestra 21, conducted by the composer.