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BY Sirmai Arts Marketing | 27-Feb-2017
Bold & beautiful programs conducted by Berlin-based Benjamin Bayl. The Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra (ARCO) – which specialises in Historically Informed Performance or ‘HIP’ - opens its 2017 concert season with a bold and beautiful program, conducted by Berlin-based Australian Benjamin Bayl and set for performances in Melbourne and Sydney this March.
Date: March 2017
Web: ww.arco.org.au
The “Italian Romance” program features Beethoven’s Romance for Violin (with Rachael Beesley, soloist) and Mendelssohn’s beloved ‘Italian’ Symphony - all under the baton of principal guest conductor Bayl. Performances take place at the Elisabeth Murdoch Hall of the Melbourne Recital Centre on Friday 24 March and the City Recital Hall, Angel Place in Sydney on Saturday 25 March (both at 7.30pm).

ARCO (which also means ‘to bow’ a string instrument in Italian music terminology) burst onto Australia’s music scene in late 2013, originally as orchestra seventeen88, and has since performed outstanding orchestral and chamber concerts all around Australia. Its 2017 season includes performances in Sydney and Melbourne in May, and Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and the Blue Mountains in September.

In imaginative and authentic performances, the Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra brings to life the colours and contrasts of Classical music together with the expressive and emotional realm of Romantic music – all performed on the exquisite and dynamic period instruments of the time. Its Artistic Director, Richard Gill AO, is a genuine living legend of the Australian performance and music education world and, true to its vision to ‘inspire, educate and enlighten’ audiences, ARCO also continues to bring inspiring masterclasses to schools all around Australia.

Catch the new wave of historically informed performers as they bring a revitalised spirit and energy to Beethoven and Mendelssohn’s masterpieces this March. From the opening - riveting - chords of the Coriolan Overture and the playful Contredanses to the sublime Romance for violin, performed by concertmaster Rachael Beesley, Beethoven will have you swooning in your seats and dancing for joy in the aisles. After the interval the gorgeous sound of a full string orchestra playing on pure gut strings is highlighted, where you’ll fall in love with Hugo Wolf’s Italian Serenade for Strings and be thrilled by Mendelssohn’s passion for Italy in his most lively symphony.


Richard Gill AO, Principal Conductor

Australian conductor and educator, Richard Gill, one of Australia's best-known and best-loved musical figures, is a significant and vital key member of the Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra. His career has taken him from teaching music in Sydney's western suburbs to Music Director of the Victorian Opera, Artistic Director of the Sydney Symphony Education Program, and along the way an involvement with almost every major opera company and orchestra in Australia. He is one of this country's pre-eminent conductors and a passionate advocate of music education. He specialises in opera, music theatre and vocal and choral training and his work in developing young musicians and creating opportunities for them is recognised world-wide. His appearances on the ABC’s “Spicks and Specks” and “Q&A” have made him a household name within and beyond Australia’s musical world.

What truly distinguishes Richard is his passion and enthusiasm for spreading not just the joy of music, but its myriad benefits. He is Australia’s greatest musical educator, and many say one of the best in the world. His life's work - alongside his other roles - has been advocating music in our education system, and furthering the development of those who've gone on to choose music as a vocation. He brings music to life, and his knowledge and deep enjoyment of his subject is as inspiring and enlightening to a class of primary school students as it is to the cast of a major opera. The majority of Australia’s young contemporary professional musicians count Richard as a powerful influence on their musical development. He has been awarded two Honorary Doctorates and an AO for distinguished service to the performing arts as a conductor, artistic director and advisor, to the development of music education, and as a mentor of young musicians.

Benjamin Bayl, Principal Guest Conductor

Born in Sydney in 1978 and currently based in Berlin, Benjamin Bayl was the first Australian Organ Scholar of King’s College Cambridge, and then following conducting studies at London’s Royal Academy of Music he became Assistant Conductor to Iván Fischer (Budapest Festival Orchestra & Konzerthausorchester Berlin) and Paul McCreesh (Gabrieli Consort & Players). He is now building an impressive international conducting career. He was the founder and Artistic Director of London’s Orchestra of the City for six seasons, and the Saraband Consort for many more. He is a co-founder of Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra.

He has made highly successful debuts in recent seasons with Mahler Chamber Orchestra (Musikfest Berlin in the Berlin Philharmonie and Ruhrtrienniale Festival), Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias, Orchestre Symphonique et Lyrique de Nancy, Taipei Symphony Orchestra, RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, The Hanover Band, Wroclaw Baroque Orchestra, Concerto Copenhagen, Leopoldinum Chamber Orchestra, and the Scandinavian orchestras of Gävle, Umeå, Drottningholm, Aarhus, Odense, Aalborg, Sønderjyllands and Copenhagen Philharmonic, with many re-invitations in the coming seasons. He recently made his conducting debut in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw with Collegium Vocale Gent and Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, and performed at the London and Göttingen Handel Festivals with his ensemble Odissea.

In the world of opera, he has conducted for Opera Australia, Staatsoper Berlin, Wiener Staatsoper, Dutch National Opera, Polish National Opera, Royal Danish Opera, Budapest State Opera, Opera Vlaanderen, Opera de Oviedo, Den Jyske Opera, Wigmore Hall and NorrlandsOperan. He is also working on the new Deutsche Grammophon Mozart Operas cycle with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Highlights of the 16/17 season include concerts with Malaysian & Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestras, Orchestra Haydn di Bolzano, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Filharmonica di Torino, Orchestra of the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM), a tour of China with The Hanover Band, a tour of Europe with B’Rock and Mozart’s La finta semplice at Warsaw Chamber Opera. Next season he will return to Collegium Vocale Gent and Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, conducting a tour of the works of CPE Bach. www.benjaminbayl.com

Rachael Beesley, Director and Violin

Rachael Beesley is an internationally renowned Australian violinist, director and concertmaster. A versatile violinist and musician she has devoted her life to performing, teaching, and researching and is one of the world leaders in the field of Historically Informed Performance (HIP). As a regular member of some of Europe's finest ensembles and orchestras, Rachael performs as guest concertmaster with Anima Eterna Brugge, La Petite Bande, Il Complesso Barocco, Restoration Company and the New Dutch Academy as well as performing regularly with Les Arts Florissants, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Combattimento Consort.

Based in Australia since 2009, Rachael is a guest concertmaster of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Pinchgut Opera, Opera Australia and Victorian Opera and has been invited to direct the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Chamber Orchestra (core member), Adelaide Chamber Players and NZBarok. She co-founded the ensembles Quartz, Ironwood and the Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra and regularly leads the chamber music ensembles Ludovico's Band, Salut! Baroque and Accademia Arcadia. Rachael has also performed with Orchestra Victoria, the Melbourne and Tasmanian Symphonies and the Australian Chamber Orchestra.

As a highly regarded teacher and mentor, Rachael is a lecturer at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, The Netherlands, the Sydney and Melbourne Conservatoriums of Music, the School of Music Monash University and guest director at ANAM. In the field of Practising in Flow, she has been invited to speak at conferences in Australia, New Zealand and The Netherlands and is listed in the Who’s Who of Australian Women. Rachael performs in festivals throughout the world, is broadcast on radio and television in Europe and Australia, and has recorded over 50 CDs for Harmonia Mundi, SONY, BIS, Accent, Pentatone, Et’Cetera, Centaur and ABC Classics. www.rachaelbeesley.com

Nicole van Bruggen, Principal Clarinet

Nicole van Bruggen performs with orchestras and chamber music ensembles in Europe and Australia, and is a highly respected exponent in historical clarinet, basset horn, basset clarinet and chalumeau. She is passionate about chamber music from the 18th and 19th centuries and has recorded numerous CDs presenting various research projects into this rich repertoire.

Nicole is principal clarinettist and member of the Artistic Committee for the Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra under the artistic direction of Richard Gill AO. She has recently returned to Australia after being based in The Netherlands for seventeen years where she was principal clarinet in many of Europe’s finest historical instrument orchestras such as Concerto Copenhagen (Denmark), Barokksolistene (Norway), New Dutch Academy, and Concerto d’Amsterdam. She has performed with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Victorian Opera, The Netherlands Bach Society, Tafelmusik (Canada) and Les Musiciens du Louvre (France).

Nicole studied modern clarinet at the Sydney Conservatorium following which she was awarded the Queen’s Trust Scholarship to continue her studies abroad. She consequently moved to The Netherlands where she graduated from a postgraduate degree in historical clarinet and HIP (Historically Informed Performance) at the Royal Conservatorium in The Hague in 1997. Nicole has won prizes at the International Van Wassenaar Concours (2001) and the prestigious Flanders Festival Competition in Bruges (1999) and has performed for many years at the Utrecht Early Music Festival as well as other major festivals in Europe. Nicole is currently teaching historical clarinet at the Sydney Conservatorium, and recently tutored at the Australian Youth Orchestra’s National Music Camp.

Fiona Campbell , mezzo-soprano

Fiona Campbell is one of Australia’s most versatile and beloved classical singers - a producer and guest ABC presenter, accomplished international performer, recitalist and recording artist. Winner of the national Limelight Award for Best Solo Performance 2011 (with the ABO in their Haunting Handel concert series), vocal winner of the ABC Young Performer of the Year Award and the ASC Opera Awards, Fiona has consistently received wide critical acclaim for her powerful performances and exquisite musicianship.

Fiona sings regularly as a principal artist with all of the major ensembles and orchestras in Australia including ACO, ABO, SSO, MSO, TSO, WASO, Australia Ensemble, ASQ, and with Opera Australia, Opera Queensland, WA Opera and Pinchgut Opera. Her international collaborators have included the Brodsky Quartet, Tokyo Philharmonic, Soloists of Royal Opera House Orchestra, Manchester Camerata, Prague Chamber Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Euro-Asian Philharmonic, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Grange Park Opera and Opera North. Career highlights include several concerts with the legendary tenor José Carreras in Japan and Korea and as his special guest artist in Australia. Fiona has also been a touring favourite with Barbara Bonney, making her debut at Suntory Hall in Tokyo and Cadogan Hall in London with the renowned international soprano.

Fiona has recorded many recitals and national broadcasts including her solo album Love & Loss, Baroque Duets, which features a world premiere recording of Handel (Vexations840), Classic 100 Opera, Mozart’s Idomeneo, Vivaldi’s Juditha Triumphans, Early French Cantatas and Just Classics 2 (ABC Classics).

Critical acclaim has been received for her portrayals of favourite operatic roles, such as Angelina Cenerentola, Olga Eugene Onegin, Hansel Hansel and Gretel, Dorabella Cosi fan Tutte, Siebel Faust, Rosina Il barbiere di Siviglia, Venus Tannhäuser, Ruggiero Alcina, Idamante Idomeneo, Vagaus Juditha Triumphans, Erisbe L'Ormindo, Suzuki Madama Butterfly; she was nominated for a Helpmann Award for her portrayal of Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro.

Her busy concert schedule has included works as varied as Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire with the Australia Ensemble and newly commissioned arrangements with the Australian String Quartet. Fiona was a feature artist in Musica Viva’s Huntingdon Festival and has been a soloist in the ACO’s legendary performances of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. In 2015, Fiona appeared as soloist with the Sydney Symphony, Melbourne Symphony, Auckland Philharmonia and sang major roles in The Barber of Seville, The Marriage of Figaro and Faust for West Australian Opera; her 2016 appearances included The Riders and Gianni Schicchi for WA Opera and concerts in Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland, Perth and Singapore.