Australian Brandenburg Orchestra 2018 – Tales of the Baroque


Seated: Shaun Lee-Chen, Bianca Porcheddu, Jamie Hey. Standing: Catherine Shugg, Rob Nairn, Matt Bruce, Monique O’Dea members Australian Brandenburg Orchestra photo ©Liz Ham

The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra (ABO) in 2018 under the direction of its much-admired artistic director Paul Dyer AO are promising ‘a season like no other’. ‘Tales of Baroque’ will be a banquet of bounteous and beautiful music.

Founded in 1989 the ABO has gone from strength to strength as it breathes new life into the early music genre. It pushes the edges and often exceeds the boundaries of the Baroque (1600 – 1750) musical style.

Musicians of the ABO bond beautifully with the men and music of the past, bringing the sweet sounds of many great composers brilliantly across the centuries and continents to enchant and delight their audiences.


Managing Director Bruce Applebaum and Artistic Director Paul Dyer, Australian Brandenburg Orchestra photo by ©Liz Ham

They broaden the scope and help to expand knowledge for their appreciative audience, for whom they keep the experience alive, interesting and inspiring by combining enjoyment of their craft with a wonderful curiosity, ensuring it’s a living art.

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Managing Director Bruce Applebaum commented ‘… we have the Australian debut of the extraordinary harpist Xavier de Maistre; a musical voyage from west to east with a Eurasian inspired ensemble from France; and a choral concert featuring one of the most ambitious programs Paul has ever prepared’.

Max Reibl

Countertenor Maximilian Reibl

Paul Dyer will start the ABO’s 2018 journey with Series One Thomas Tallis’ England.

Accomplished countertenor Maximilian Riebl joins Paul Dyer and the ABO as soloist to present a program showcasing wondrous works by Thomas Tallis and his friend, pupil and protégé William Byrd (1539- 40 -1623) and other gifted gentlemen of the Chapel Royal who followed their lead.

They were Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625), Henry Purcell (1659 – 1695), George Friderich Handel (1685 – 1759) and founder of a nationalist movement in English music Ralph Vaughn Williams (1872-1958), well-known for his glorious tone poem The Lark Ascending (1914.

ABO 12

Members of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra photo by ©Liz Ham

Organist and composer Thomas Tallis (1510 – 1585) somehow miraculously managed to remain Roman Catholic in sixteenth century England. He spent his life as a gentleman of the Chapel Royal, an establishment providing settings for the English liturgy in the service of the monarch.

A highlight is sure to be Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis composed on a hymn in the Metrical English Psalter by Ralph Vaughn Williams, who discovered it in the archives when he took over music editorship of The English Hymnal (1906). It was used effectively in the award winning film Master and Commander starring Russell Crowe.

Music ManRalph Vaughan Williams had a passion for English folk songs and a passionate interest in English music of the Tudor period. Queen  Elizabeth 1 (1533-1603) loved music, both sacred and secular.

An accomplished musician the Queen played both the virginals, an early type of keyboard instrument smaller and simpler than the harpsichord, as well as the lute, a stringed instrument known from the days of ancient Egypt.

She also actively encouraged new forms and means of musical expression as an inalienable aspect of the reformed faiths, especially in the doctrines and aspirations of English Protestantism.

It was January 21, 1575 when she granted Tallis and Byrd the monopoly for printing music and music paper in England; the first instance of letters patent issued for that purpose.

Every great artist is not only an integral part of his own times but also helps to create them. Tallis’ friend, pupil and protégé William Byrd reshaped the rich musical life of the Christian church in England and it began to dominate the music of the continent in both depth and variety and in a way not seen before or since.

William Byrd also helped the English madrigal, a form of secular Italian music picked up and transplanted into that green and pleasant land, to flourish. First appearing in print with English words in 1588, heartfelt lyrics sang of the outlaw and the forest and the joys and woes of love, expressing a depth of human emotions with an openness not known before.


Tommie Andersson Theorbo and Concertmaster Shaun Lee-Chen, Australian Brandenburg Orchestra photo by ©Liz Ham

The harp is not an instrument we encounter a great deal today, unless you are here in Melbourne where they employ a harpist at the Royal Botanical Gardens during the summer months to enchant the crowd.

The earliest harps and lyres known were found in the ancient Near East at Sumer in royal tombs some three and half thousand years before the Christ Event. It gained in popularity during the Middle Ages and Renaissance period in Europe, where it also developed into a variety of styles, which vary globally.

de Maistre and Harp

Xavier de Maistre with his French Harp courtesy Australian Brandenburg Orchestra

Series Two The Harpist: Xavier de Maistre will present a young virtuoso artist who has been described as being ‘profoundly musical and capable of realizing a remarkable range of nuance’ when playing his fabulous French period pedal harp.

Pedals on harps were first introduced in 1697 by Jakob Hochbrucker of Bavaria and by the Romantic music era (1800-1910 the pedal harp had become a standard instrument in European orchestras.

On a mission to change the way people view the harp today, de Maistre in his quest has gained the reputation of being one of the most creative and extraordinary soloists of his generation. He is helping to redefine what it is possible to play with his most marvellous instrument.

de Maistre

Xavier de Maistre plays his French Harp courtesy Australian Brandenburg Orchestra

 Xavier de Maistre will be playing music by W.A. Mozart (1756-1791), Francois-Adrien Boleldieu (1775-1834), C.P.E. Bach (1714-1788), Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), Manuel De Falla (1876-1946), Francisco Tarrega (1852-1909) and Bedrich Smetana (1824-1884) seeking to create ‘… inner worlds of exquisite sensitivity, filled with light and shade’.

Poetry and painting of the music life from the Middle Ages in Europe to the Renaissance in Italy reflected the enthusiasm of a new age of musical scholars, which has continue unabated to the present day.

La Camera

La Camera della Lacrime courtesy Australian Brandenburg Orchestra

Series Three Karakorum promises to be exciting and exhilarating as folk ensemble La Camera delle Lacrime joins the ABO exploring the haunting and beautiful music of the Christian, Islamic and Eurasian worlds of the thirteenth century when sacred and secular music were still very separate.

An exotic pasticcio created by Bruno Bonhoure and Khaï-dong Luong, the program will feature Mongolian melodies, Buddhist hymns, Sufi chants and much more.

The musical heritage we enjoy today was a result of nineteenth century Romanticism in Europe, ensuring all the cultures of the world are today becoming better known through their music and more and more connected.

Stefano Montenari, Melissa Farrow and Paul Dyer, Melbourne Recital Hall 2013, Image courtesy Steven Godbee Publicity Edgecliff, NSW

Stefano Montenari, Melissa Farrow and Paul Dyer, Melbourne Recital Hall 2013, Image courtesy Steven Godbee Publicity Edgecliff, NSW

Series Four The Burning Violin presents virtuoso violinist Stefano Montanari who weaves spellbinding musical magic on his 1680 Dutch Violin.

For this concert he will be Guest Director as well as soloist playing with Baroque flautist Melissa Farrow.

Stefano Montanari 21 ph cifarelli

Stefano Montanari courtesy Australian Brandenburg Orchestra


Stefano Montenari on stage courtesy Australian Brandenburg Orchestra photo Steven Godbee 2013

When Montanari played with the ABO in 2013 and on the night I was there you could have heard a pin drop in the hall, which by the end of the night resonated with sounds of sublime satisfaction through acclamation.

How glad was I to have the joy of being there.

By the time Spring 2018 comes around I will be looking forward to a program featuring marvellous works by composers Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767), Antonio Vivaldi (1678 – 1741), Pietro Locatelli (1695-1764), Giovanni Lorenzo Gregori (1663-1745), Johann David Heinichen (1683-1729) and Johann Georg Pisendel (1688-1755).

Series Five Lixsania and the Labyrinth will feature Cuban soloist Lixsania Fernández playing a Viola da Gamba (leg-viol), a superb instrument, one of the bowed, fretted and stringed musical instruments from the viol family.

Lixsania will reveal the mellow, soft, round tone of the Viola da Gamba, developed during the mid-late fifteenth century. Used primarily during the Renaissance and Baroque periods of music in Europe it is now making a comeback worldwide.


Lixsania Fernandez viola da gamba courtesy Australian Brandenburg Orchestra

The program consists of music by Italian composer Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713) a master of the Baroque era, Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757), Pietro Locatelli (1695-1764), Carl Heinrich Graun (1704-1759) and Marin Marais (1656-1728) the central figure in the French school of bass-viol composers and performers flourishing during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.

ABO Brandenburg Leaders (c) Liz Ham

Australian Brandenburg Orchestra leaders photo (c) Liz Ham

Lixsania will also play a Tango from the Concerto for 2 Violas da Gamba by contemporary soloist and chamber player Rene Duchiffre (Rene Schiffer) a composer in both historical and modern styles.

Music expresses emotions and ideas in significant forms with rhythm melody, harmony and colour elements contributing to creating an art of sound.

Over the centuries the instruments played and the voices that have either sung, or narrated to music, have been a powerful force affecting the lives of many people.


Concertmaster Shaun Lee-Chen, Monique O’Dea, Kirsten Barry, Melissa Farrow, Ben Dollman members of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra photo by ©Liz Ham

In 2018 at the end of the year you will be able to visit to a Christmas market place where you can follow your own star.

Series Six Noel! Noel! the grand finale every ABO year showcasing the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and its talented musicians who with the Australian Brandenburg Choir will help ‘unwrap what Christmas means to you’.

You can enjoy Christmas favourites from days gone by and works considered musical treasures, which not only make wonderful historical sense but also provide fine entertainment.


Violins and Violas, members of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra photo by ©Liz Ham

Australian Brandenburg Orchestra musicians all use gut stringed instruments, alongside wind and brass instruments made of age appropriate materials with a harpsichord or fortepiano in original disposition.

The music they play has abundance and it became the music of friends because it has an intrinsic intimacy we can all relate to.

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2017


Shaun Lee-Chen, Monique O’Dea and Paul Dyer, Australian Brandenburg Orchestra photo by ©Liz Ham

Australian Brandenburg Orchestra 2018
Tales of the Baroque

Download the ABO 2018 Brochure here.

February / March 2018
Thomas Tallis’ England

May 2018
The Harpist – Xavier de Maistre

July / August 2018
Karakorum, A Musical Journey

September 2018
The Burning Violin, with Stefano Montanari

October / November 2018
Lixsania and the Labyrinth

December 2018
NOËL! NOËL! Follow Your Star

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