Australian Chamber Orchestra – 3 Cheers Winter Morning Walks

Composer and bandleader Maria Schneider accepts her Grammy Award. Her album Winter Morning Walks earned three awards yesterday at the pre-telecast Grammy ceremony in Los Angeles photo by Michael Buckner courtesy Getty Images

Congratulations to the Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) for your great achievement when, at the recent 56th Gramophone Awards (Grammy) you were rewarded for your significant contribution towards the award winning recording of the brilliant album Winter Morning Walks.

The album won Best Contemporary Classical Composition, Best Classical Vocal Solo, Best Engineered Classical Album and also helped David Frost to win the coveted Classical Producer of the Year.

You shared the honours with American composer Maria Schneider (Best Contemporary Classical Composition), the scintillating American soprano Dawn Upshaw (Best Classical Vocal Solo), the St Paul Chamber Orchestra and a trio of US jazz musicians clarinettist Scott Robinson, pianist Frank Kimbrough and bassist Jay Anderson, who all toured the US in 2012 playing this extraordinary music with you.

How wonderful that from the 7th – 24th February Dawn Upshaw and her jazz colleagues will appear on tour in Australia with the ACO to present Winter Morning Walks. This will give audiences an ability to give you first hand ‘three cheers’ for your achievement.

What a great shame the Australian media and their bosses proved how biased they can be about presenting good stories about achieving Australians in the music world.

They were conspicuous by their virtual silence about your involvement in such significant Grammy success. While not endeavouring to take anything away from musicians and singers who won awards in their categories, what I am expressing is disappointment.

We used to be a country that offered everyone equally a ‘fair go’ to achieve excellence in their field and if they did we joined together and gave three cheers.

I don’t believe for a minute Australians, given the chance to honour their elite musicians, just like the elite athletes they admire, wouldn’t feel just downright proud to know the ACO had just won against the best in the world. So why wasn’t their success a headline too?

After all the ACO have been described by the international press as ‘the best chamber orchestra on earth’.

American composer Maria Schneider produced memorable contemporary music for Winter Morning Walks, the album that saw the  ACO sharing these coveted awards.

The music and lyrics for the songs sung by Dawn Upshaw were inspired by wonderful words written by Ted Kooser, a Pulitzer Prize winning poet who wrote them while on morning walks, as part of his recovery from cancer.

Dawn Upshaw and Maria Schneider have both had first hand experience of this dreadful disease, so we can all understand that his words meant a great deal.

Music as art, is all about the hand, the head, and the heart working together as it did with this award winning album.

Winter Morning Walks describes a northern hemisphere landscape, one very different from the Australian experience and the players were applauded in the US for performing it with ‘crystalline clarity’.

The ACO is all about culture and creative diversity celebrated. They make their music with vigour and passion every time.

They are a group of high achieving musicians led by award winning violinist Richard Tognetti, who has a reputation for presenting the eccentric and unusual, alongside the classical and contemporary in his choice of both guests and repertoire.

His fellow players and peers admire that he has the courage of his convictions. His style is to always challenge both the audience and his players at all times, by providing presentations that are always stimulating, forever inspiring and completely unforgettable. This happens through live performances, educational programs and the incorporation of technology.

What is it about putting the word ‘classical’ in front of the word music that scares so many people in Australia?

Do they not know classic means of renowned excellence ?

The music for Winter Morning Walks while contemporary has been awarded in the ‘classical’ category of the Grammy’s, which would seem to make the point that a great many people believe it will endure.

Classical music is about works that have stood the test of time. Its tenets lie in the eighteenth century when music on its evolutionary path from antiquity to today crossed all boundaries of culture to be celebrated as an expression of civilised life all over the world. It’s also when each countries cultural achievements in music began to be celebrated for their  individual contribution to the quality of life and humankind’s well-being.

In Australia with the expansion of our multi-cultural mix, particularly over the last thirty years, the intoxicating music of other cultures is now being woven into the fabric of our lives.  Whether played on authentic instruments or a mix of east and west, music that reflects on the richness of all our cultures and their development, is seductive in anyone’s language.

Today we can enjoy all genres of music from the footstamping flamenco music of Spain, to the beauty of music sung in diverse holy places or the hard edged music of the streets.

The ACO have gained over the last two decades and more a huge reputation internationally. They have been declared living National treasures.

They provide quality musical programs, which not only accommodate the needs of the community, but also contribute through the style of music they offer, to the growth of endeavour and enterprise in performance art fields in Australia.

They are innovative, offering an extraordinary variety of repertoire from Bach to sharing the stage with a group rocking out playing garbage bins so they are not at all scared to take risks.

I have always considered it a great privilege that I was there in 1989 when as a young man Richard Tognetti walked on stage and completely changed Australian music history. Being part of supporting their efforts for a period of time has indeed been an honour

As well as frequent Australian tours, the Australian Chamber Orchestra tours Asia, Europe and the USA, including regular performances at London’s Wigmore Hall, New York’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Centre, Vienna’s Musikverein and Washington’s John F Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts.

The ACO is all about musical diversity in action. Each concert performance is themed and cleverly crafted to help expand its follower’s experience of notable repertoire from the past and present.

This year for their 2014 program they will be working with the seven-time ARIA Award winning electronic music duo The Presets in Richard Tognetti’s Timeline concert, which surges through 42,000 years of musical evolution.

Classical masterworks will include Mahler’s “Heavenly” Symphony No.4, Grieg’s Holberg Suite, Beethoven’s Symphony No.1, Haydn’s C major Cello Concerto and Dvorják’s Serenade for Strings and they will premiere Water, by Radiohead guitarist-turned-composer Jonny Greenwood.

Hip Hip Hooray!

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2014

Watch a Video about Winter Morning Walks introduced by Maria Schneider

The Australian Chamber Orchestra

7 – 24 FEBRUARY 2014

JOHN ADAMS Selections from John’s Book of Alleged Dances
GRIEG Holberg Suite
GRIEG Solveig’s Song
EINOJUHANI RAUTAVAARA Die Liebenden: Liebes Lied
MARIA SCHNEIDER Winter Morning Walks [AUSTRALIAN PREMIERE] ELGAR Introduction and Allegro

Helena Rathbone Lead Violin
Dawn Upshaw Soprano
Scott Robinson Alto & Bass Clarinet
Jay Anderson Double Bass
Frank Kimbrough Piano


Artistic Director & Musicians

Unlike Australia’s symphony orchestra organisations, which are generously funded with up to 70% of their costs from the government, the ACO receives less than 15% of its revenue from government sources and relies on the generosity of supporters.



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.