Wagner Ring Cycle Melbourne 2016

Opportunity knocks in many ways

At yesterday’s sell-out concert I had to ask myself several times whether it was really 13 years since Melbourne was introduced to its new choir. I have strong memories of standing in a queue which snaked around Melbourne Town Hall, and an excited buzz of anticipation in the crowd. A couple of hours later that had turned to excited conversation, following the revelation of both the concept of the street choir, and the quality of the Choir of Hard Knocks, thanks to its founder and conductor, Jonathan Welch.
Their success and influence in the mushrooming of similar choirs has been well documented in the lead up to this concert, billed as “Seasons of Love”.
David Johnson treated us to a burst of sound from the full powerful town hall organ (which currently has no peer in the city’s concert halls) provided an impressive start to the afternoon of music, and the Welcome to Country added gravitas.
But it was Jonathon and the Choir that the audience wanted.  They soon arrived, Jon dapper in a bright blue jacket,  leading the Choir in a chorus of “We’re Still Here” which, straight away, had the audience clapping and joining in with gusto.
This set the pattern for the afternoon, which was more of a gathering of friends to reflect, sing a few songs and catch up with the news (of which more later). It was not a formal program as featured in their 10th anniversary concert.  But, to everyone’s satisfaction they did  perform their signature piece, “Hallelujah”, with as much conviction as ever.
And so the evening continued, with Jonathon proudly sharing success stories of some individual choir members, but most importantly, the Choir of Hard Knocks itself.  We even had a foray into composition by one of the longer-term members.

We heard of the new arrangements for the direction of the choir.  (See media release below.)  And we heard something of Jonathon’s plans for the future.  This became tangible when many more black-clad choristers filed to the stage to join the Choir of Hard Knocks, just in time for a few rousing numbers with the audience joining in!

The evening ended as it began, all those years ago, with loud, confident voices raised celebrating success and hopes for the future.  It was good to be with the singers on both occasions!

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MEDIA RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday 3 June, Melbourne, Victoria

CHOIR OF HARD KNOCKS ANNOUNCES NEW CO-ARTISTIC DIRECTORS

Melbourne Street Choir Inc. is very excited to announce the appointment of Danielle Matthews and Adam Przewlocki as Co-Artistic Directors to lead the Choir of Hard Knocks in the future.

After 13 years at the helm of Australia’s most famous and loved, award winning choir, its Founding Artistic Director, Dr Jonathon Welch AM,conducted his Melbourne farewell Choir of Hard Knocks concert “Seasons of Love” at Melbourne Town Hall on Sunday 2 June, 2019.

“I’m absolutely thrilled that Adam and Danielle will work together with the choir members now and take them on to an exciting new chapter in the Choir of Hard Knocks’ journey.  I’ve known them both professionally and personally for many years, and they’re outstanding performing artists and have such great empathy.  The choir is in the best hands artistically moving forward” said Founding Artistic Director, Dr Jonathon Welch AM upon his retirement from the role.

On announcement of the appointments, Adam Przewlocki said: “I feel deeply humbled and privileged to come on board as Co-Artistic Director of Choir of Hard Knocks as they move forward into their next chapter.

What my dear friend Jonathon has galvanised with this group of extraordinary human beings is truly remarkable and unique and I am so excited to now have the opportunity to play a part in the choir’s continued journey.”

Danielle Matthews also expressed her joy in undertaking the new role, saying “I’m so privileged and honoured to be able to take on this role.  I can remember watching the Choir of Hard Knocks documentary 13 years ago and being so inspired.  Never would I have imagined that one day I would be leading that very choir!

My mother was a teacher of the blind and disabled for 40 years and I grew up with people the world considered to be different–physically, mentally or both.  For me, they were home. I understood them and they understood me.

I am so grateful that I can continue to share my journey of life and music with this amazing group of people who to the outside world may seem different but to me are perfect.  They are family.  Thank you Jonathon. I’m truly blessed.”

Danielle and Adam have worked together in the past and are looking forward to working as Co-Artistic Directors of the Choir of Hard Knocks. The Choir meet and rehearse on Mondays at St Michael’s in Collins Street.

Ringside Seats

Welcome to Classic Melbourne and our coverage of the Melbourne Ring: Opera Australia’s largest and most ambitious production, Wagner’s Ring Cycle, returning exclusively to Melbourne in 2016. Directed by Neil Armfield the Melbourne Ring will play at the State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne from November 21 to December 16, with Finnish conductor Pietari Inkinen returning to conduct.

In 2013, Armfield’s Ring Cycle was acclaimed a triumph by audiences and critics. “The verdict was pretty much unanimous: this was one of the best Rings anywhere in a long time” Classical Voice North America said. Opera Australia’s CEO Craig Hassall agreed. “In 2013, audiences from Victoria, Australia and around the world embraced the Melbourne Ring,” he said. “The return of the Ring in 2016 is the next step towards fulfilling our aspiration to make Melbourne a regular international destination for the Ring Cycle”. (more…)

Need to know

Wagner’s Ring Cycle is so popular that, no matter where it is put on, audiences usually flock from near and far to see it. This is why (as in Melbourne) there may be several Cycles of the four operas that comprise the Ring. (more…)

Interviews

Alternative Text

Mezzo-Soprano Deborah Humble is one of Australia’s best-known and most successful opera singers, and your guide to the 2016 Wagner Ring Cycle in Melbourne.

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Volunteers worth their weight in Rheingold

Volunteers worth their weight in Rheingold

They act as one. Donning swimming costumes at the beginning of Das Rheingold to hide golden pom-poms as they form a Sea of Humanity, they are still there 16 1/2 hours later for the closing bars of Die Gotterdammerung watching everything go up in flames from the sideline bleachers. Acting as one but in fact…Read More

Interview: Amber Wagner

Interview: Amber Wagner

Soprano Amber Wagner will sing the role of Sieglinde in the Melbourne Ring Cycle which opens tonight. She first performed in Melbourne in 2013 when she sang the Verdi Requiem under the baton of Sir Andrew Davis with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. “I love Melbourne,” Ms Wagner says. “It’s such a great city; easy to…Read More

Interview: Liane Keegan

Interview: Liane Keegan

Deborah Humble talks with dramatic contralto Liane Keegan about her musical life in Melbourne and recreating the role of Erda in the 2016 Melbourne Ring. What motivated your return to Australia in 2012 and what is your perception of the cultural and artistic life here by comparison? I no longer enjoyed working in opera in…Read More

Interview: Anna-Louise Cole

Interview: Anna-Louise Cole

Deborah Humble introduces soprano Anna-Louise Cole who talks about her recent successes, singing in the Melbourne Ring Cycle and future engagements. With two roles and an understudy to prepare for, Cole is one very busy young singer. “Could you tell us about your recent competition success and experiences?” “I feel like I’ve had a pretty…Read More

Interview: Warwick Fyfe

Interview: Warwick Fyfe

Interviewer Deborah Humble presents a full and fascinating interview with her erstwhile colleague and friend, Warwick Fyfe, including his huge success with  Alberich in the Melbourne Ring Cycle in 2013. “Can you tell me a bit about what you have done/sung since the last Ring Cycle?” “Ooh lots. I can’t list everything but there was Rigoletto,…Read More

Interview: Matthew Hassall

Interview: Matthew Hassall

Interviewer Deborah Humble finds herself in the pits, as Associate Principal Violinist for the Ring Cycle, Matthew Hassall, talks about seeing Wagner from “the best seat in the house…” Out of all the people involved in the Ring, you will probably be one of the hardest working. What is it like to play so many…Read More

Interview: James Johnson

Interview: James Johnson

Wer ist Wotan? Deborah Humble introduces American bass-baritone James Johnson… A collective metaphorical groan rang out amongst Melbourne Ring Cycle ticket holders the day Opera Australia recently announced that, due to ill health, Greer Grimsley would not be coming to sing the role of Wotan in the 2016 Melbourne Ring Cycle. Actually, it was not…Read More

Interview: Brad Daley

Interview: Brad Daley

Deborah Humble in conversation with tenor Brad Daley as he prepares the role of Siegmund for the Melbourne Ring Cycle. “The pinnacle of Heldentenor roles is arguably Siegfried, which you covered in the 2013 Ring in Melbourne. How does Siegmund compare as a role vocally and dramatically?” If you are just talking about length alone…Read More

Interview: Greg Eldridge

Interview: Greg Eldridge

Deborah Humble in conversation with Australian director Greg Eldridge, a recent member of the Jette Parker Young Artist Programme at the Royal Opera House who has returned to Australia to be assistant director for the Ring. “Can you give readers a brief update on your time at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden? What has…Read More

Interview: Stefan Vinke

Interview: Stefan Vinke

Deborah Humble in conversation with Stefan Vinke who reprises his role as “Siegfried” in the Melbourne Ring. I was recently privileged to hear you sing an extraordinary Siegfried at the Bayreuth Festival in Germany. Can you tell us what it is like to sing this role at the house where Wagner designed it to be…Read More

Reviews

MSO: Simone Young conducts Wagner and Bruckner

MSO: Simone Young conducts Wagner and Bruckner

While Melbourne’s State Theatre reverberated to the awe-inspiring strains of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, the adjacent Hamer Hall was having more than its fair share of Wagner excitement in a Melbourne Symphony Orchestra concert entitled Simone Young Conducts Wagner & Bruckner. In a series of coincidences, we had yet another gifted American singer to add to the…Read More

The Ring: Götterdämmerung

The Ring: Götterdämmerung

Breathing as one, the Melbourne Ring Orchestra brass introduced the third and final day of Wagner’s music drama with another of the composer’s masterstrokes: a dramatic stricken chord that resolved into ascending waves of arpeggios from upper strings and winds. From the first two chords marking “Brünnhilde’s Awakening” to watery undulations and birdsong, the scene…Read More

The Ring: Siegfried

The Ring: Siegfried

Pietari Inkinen and the Melbourne Ring Orchestra created an unearthly atmosphere of mythic dominions as muted dark woodwinds, a wonderfully yawning tuba and ominous Wagner tubas/horns introduced the “Second day” of Wagner’s music drama. Progressing from the weighty evocation of the dragon Fafner in his cave the music gathered momentum to depict the labours of…Read More

The Ring: Die Walkure

The Ring: Die Walkure

A reviewer would seldom draw attention to cast sheets, but Opera Australia’s decision to feature Jeff Busby’s splendid whole-page photographs deserves special attention since they highlight a pivotal aspect of each opera. For Das Rheingold James Johnson (Wotan) is a portrait of solemn, conflicted god-like power; for Die Walküre Bradley Daley and Amber Wagner personify…Read More

The Ring: Rheingold

The Ring: Rheingold

When Opera Australia first mounted Wagner’s Ring Cycle in 2013 much of the production details were secrets as closely guarded as Fafner’s golden hoard. This time, most members of the audience had seen this production at least once or had followed some of the controversy surrounding Neil Armfield’s conception. The element of surprise might have…Read More

Wagner in Tasmania

Wagner in Tasmania

  While crowds of Wagner supporters flock to Melbourne for the three Ring cycles, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and soloists stole a march on proceedings, with its own curtain-raiser – excelling in a dramatically astounding performance of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde. Mezzo Deborah Humble again found herself in the audience, pen in hand, this time…Read More

Wagner in Paris

Wagner in Paris

As Wagner fever increases with the imminent arrival of Opera Australia’s reprise of its Ring season, the Melbourne Recital Centre and The Parlour have joined in with a more critical take on the Great Man. Subtitled “A Story of Prison, Ambition & Song” Wagner in Paris is a reminder that musical genius is no guarantee…Read More