The Weekend Australian - Review - - Profile - Tim Dou­glas

Syd­ney Sym­phony Orches­tra pulled out all the stops this week to an­nounce it had ex­tended the con­tract of chief con­duc­tor David Robert­son. The de­ci­sion of the Amer­i­can mae­stro to wave the ba­ton in Syd­ney for an­other year was cel­e­brated with a slap-up lunch for me­dia at Matt Mo­ran’s har­bour­side restau­rant Aria on Mon­day. The news had been such a closely held se­cret not even prin­ci­pal cel­list Um­berto Clerici, who sat cradling his price­less 1722 Mat­teo Gof­friller, knew why he had been sum­moned to Mo­ran’s tem­ple of gas­tron­omy. Soon enough, though, SSO boss Rory Jeffes made the an­nounce­ment and Clerici, smil­ing, played an ex­cerpt from Gio­vanni Sol­lima’s Alone (to the de­light of most, and the dis­ap­point­ment of one at­tendee who had hoped to hear the cello-bound Game of Thrones theme played in hon­our of the reco­ro­na­tion). The mae­stro re­vealed his 2018 plans, which in­clude a Brahms mini-fes­ti­val, a Euro­pean tour and a new com­po­si­tion by Aus­tralian com­poser Brett Dean. In 2018-19 Robert­son also will end his ten­ure with the St Louis Sym­phony Orches­tra, where he has been mu­sic di­rec­tor since 2003. Run­ning world-class sym­phony or­ches­tras on sep­a­rate con­ti­nents is no mean feat. So how does the 59-year-old keep his fa­mously cool hand? The se­cret may be a power nap. As di­vulged to this or­gan’s arts ed­i­tor Ash­leigh Wil­son, Robert­son is a fan of a pre-per­for­mance siesta. He might have needed it at the week­end’s Mahler con­certs, where he was kept on his toes by one punter in par­tic­u­lar, Syd­ney’s Mahler tragic-inchief Paul Keat­ing. There was no fine din­ing to ac­com­pany its an­nounce­ment but the West­ern Aus­tralian Acad­emy of Per­form­ing Arts had a clas­si­cal coup of its own this week. So­prano Emma Matthews has been an­nounced as WAAPA’s new head of clas­si­cal voice. Matthews, who has won more Help­mann awards (seven) than any other per­former and is star­ring as the tit­u­lar dame in new mu­si­cal Melba, will start at WAAPA in Jan­uary. Matthews was born in Eng­land and spent her early child­hood in Fiji and Van­u­atu, but her west­ern ap­point­ment is a home­com­ing. She moved to Perth at 13, stud­ied at WAAPA’s con­ser­va­to­rium, and made her de­but with the WA Opera soon af­ter. The Aus­tralian Fes­ti­val of Cham­ber Mu­sic kicked off last night in trop­i­cal Townsville, and artis­tic di­rec­tor Piers Lane is again lay­ing claim to the coun­try’s most ex­otic mu­sic des­ti­na­tion. On Tues­day, cham­ber mu­sic lovers will head for tiny Coral Sea out­crop Or­pheus Is­land (pop­u­la­tion 21) to be en­ter­tained by the Nexas Quar­tet, Poul Hoxbro and Ti­mothy Con­sta­ble.

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