Sydney – Monday 5 December, 2022. The Sydney Opera House’s much-loved chamber music program Utzon Music returns for its 16th year in 2023, showcasing a curated collection of the world’s boldest and most innovative ensembles and soloists from Western and Eastern classical traditions.
From March to October, Utzon Music 2023 will feature 11 performances from 8 world-class international and Australian artists in the intimate Utzon Room – the only performance space designed entirely by Opera House architect Jørn Utzon.
The stimulating and diverse program features Malian singer and guitarist Vieux Farka Touré; British vocal consort The Gesualdo Six; iconic British string quartet Brodsky Quartet; French string quartet Quatuor Van Kuijk; German-British baritone Benjamin Appl; young Australian string ensemble Alma Moodie Quartet; Australian cellist James Morley, joined by soprano Jane Sheldon and fortepianist Erin Helyard; and Australian concert pianist Andrea Lam.
“It’s been a delight to work with all the outstanding Utzon Music 2023 artists to assemble this inspiring program, designed for our loyal and new audiences alike. It delivers on my core beliefs – that you need a minimum of three exceptional string quartets a year to sample a few drops of the oceans of breathtaking quartet repertoire that exist, and that Australia is home to the finest emerging classical artists creating sensational original work.
I’m excited for audiences to delve into this program, performed with the mesmerising backdrop of the Utzon Room. I don’t have favourites… but have to say that powerhouse Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Touré is a total superstar,” says Utzon Music series curator Casey Green.
UTZON MUSIC 2023 PROGRAM
Vieux Farka Touré || Thursday 2 March, 2023, 6PM & 9PM
The “Hendrix of the Sahara” and son of desert blues legend, the late Ali Farka Touré, Malian singer, songwriter and guitarist Vieux Farka Touré returns to Australia with his full band to perform from his back catalogue and critically acclaimed new album, Les Racines. While staying true to his West African roots, Touré’s music also incorporates influences such as American blues, rock, jazz, pop and Latin music. He recently collaborated with Texan trio Khruangbin for the 2022 full-length album Ali, named in tribute to his late father.
The Gesualdo Six: English Motets || Sunday 2 April, 2023, 3PM
Experience the sound of the Tudors with The Gesualdo Six, one of the UK’s finest all-male vocal ensembles, in a concert of Renaissance masterpieces. The members of The Gesualdo Six grew up in the English cathedral tradition, singing the wealth of repertoire that emerged during the English Renaissance, a Golden Age for church music. Now, their Utzon Music debut offers a taste of the invention (and re-invention) that resulted, ranging from the intricate creations of Thomas Tallis and William Byrd to the simplicity of Thomas Tomkins.
Brodsky Quartet: Bach, Britten and Schubert || Friday 21 & Saturday 22 April, 7PM and Sunday 23 April, 3PM
Legendary British string quartet, Brodsky Quartet return to the Opera House in 2023 for a brief residency, after performing at Utzon Music in 2019, 2013 and 2010. Now celebrating their 50th anniversary, the well-loved ensemble will perform a repertoire featuring works by Bach, Britten and Schubert. The quartet have made musical history with ground-breaking collaborations with some of the world’s leading artists including rock and pop icons Björk, Elvis Costello and Paul McCartney.
Quatuor Van Kuijk: Mozart, Debussy and Mendelssohn || Sunday 7 May 2023, 3PM
The acclaimed Parisian string quartet will make a highly anticipated Sydney debut performing Mozart, Mendelssohn and Debussy – music showcasing their youthful energy and joyous music-making. It can take years for a string quartet to shape a distinctive musical personality, but in less than a decade the Quatuor Van Kuijk have won accolades worldwide and praise for their animated and spontaneous performances.
Benjamin Appl: Nocturne || Sunday 23 July, 2023, 3PM
Hailed as “the most promising of today’s up-and-coming song recitalists” (Financial Times), German-British baritone Benjamin Appl makes his Sydney debut in an enchanting recital of songs for voice and piano from the German Lieder tradition. The program, titled Nocturne, will traverse repertoire that plays on themes of dark nights, celestial bodies, sleeplessness and dreaming, and will feature works by Schubert, Brahms, Schönberg and more.
James Morley and Friends: Beethoven and Beyond || Sunday 6 August, 2023, 3PM
A new-generation virtuoso, young Australian cellist James Morley returns home from Switzerland with a varied program of old and new masterpieces. In a nod to Basel, he brings a vivid piece for solo cello inspired by the 20th-century conductor and patron Paul Sacher. Morley will also perform two vibrant new Australian works: a solo cello piece from Johannes MacDonald and a Josephine Macken duo performed with soprano Jane Sheldon. He’ll also perform Beethoven’s most popular third cello sonata written “for piano and cello” in which the two instruments are in equal partnership, with fortepianist Erin Helyard.
Alma Moodie Quartet: Romantic Journey || Sunday 24 September, 2023, 3PM
Young Australian ensemble Alma Moodie Quartet traverses a Romantic musical landscape, from darkly aloof miniatures to an expansive Beethoven masterpiece. The group will perform Webern’s intense Six Bagatelles and Zemlinsky’s final quartet, a piece blacklisted as “degenerate” by the Nazis and unheard in public until 1967, before concluding with Beethoven’s brilliant E flat major quartet. Formed in 2021, the Alma Moodie Quartet takes its name from the acclaimed Queensland-born violinist.
Andrea Lam: Arc of Life || Sunday 8 October, 2023, 3PM
Australian pianist Andrea Lam returns to the Opera House with a program inspired by a 19th-century love triangle and the journey of life. Lam will perform signature works by Clara and Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms – representing one of 19th-century music’s “complicated” relationships – highlights from Granados’ Goyescas, as well as voices of today. With the arc of life as her theme, Lam has turned to the miniatures of the piano repertoire – pieces that capture the essence of an emotion or an image in just a few minutes.