Season Preview: Your guide to the arts in 2024

Australia Ensemble has announced a pre-launch teaser of four concerts for its 2024 season, full details of which will be made known in December.

But the bigger news for followers of the chamber group is that long-serving members Dene Olding (violin), Irina Morozova (viola) and pianist Ian Munro are stepping back from regular ensemble playing.

Continuing members Dimity Hall, David Griffiths and Julian Smiles will perform alongside special guest artists, with Olding and Morozova – both of whom have played with Australia Ensemble for more than 40 years – performing as Emeritus Artists.

Ian Munro, Irina Morozova and Dene Olding. Image supplied

Morozova was part of the Australia Ensemble from the very beginning. She featured in the AE’s first concert on 10 March, 1980 and as well as playing, has also served as the Ensemble’s archivist. Her sound has always been central to the Ensemble’s dynamic – a sound composer Paul Stanhope describes as inextricably part of Morozova’s personality: “Irina is warm-hearted and completely authentic musician: there is no artifice in her playing.”

For the Australia Ensemble’s third season in 1982, violinist Dene Olding was tempted back to Sydney from the US where he had completed studies at the Juilliard School and was concertmaster and assistant conductor of an orchestra in Florida. Often the public voice of the Australia Ensemble, Olding frequently found himself speaking from stage, almost as an extension of his musical connection to the audience, which Stanhope recognises in his playing.

“I’ve always loved how in chamber music performances, he leans out to the audience on occasions, as though to share special moments,” said Stanhope. “His ability to connect with the audience as well as keep on top of often-difficult repertoire is nothing short of a high-wire act.”

Australia Ensemble welcomed visiting pianist Ian Munro for its 1998 season, as an exchange from the University of Tasmania Conservatorium. He was immediately put through his paces with repertoire including Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time, Dvorak’s Dumky Trio, and Elgar’s Piano Quintet.

The musicologist and critic Roger Covell was quick to recognise the breadth of what Munro brought to the Ensemble: “The arrival of Ian Munro … introduced an additional creative element in the planning and programming of the group. Ian’s strong interest in musical creation and adaptation encouraged the introduction of examples of his compositional activity into Ensemble programs.”

Of their colleagues, Julian Smiles and Dimity Hall said: “We thank Irina, Dene and Ian for everything they have brought to our audiences … and look forward to exploring new directions with them in their emeritus and guest roles with us in an exciting future of the Australia Ensemble. As they move into an Emeritus role, we thank them for their generous music-making, their amazing stewardship and we wish them all the very best for their future.”

Audiences for the first concert of Australia Ensemble’s 2024 season will find not too much has changed, with Olding and Morozova performing in the first recital of 2024 (on 23 March), a program of Beethoven (the String Quartet in E flat) and Mozart (the Clarinet Quintet K581, featuring David Griffiths).

On Stage KLASSIK underground

Tahlia Petrosian. Photo © Kiss & Tell Communications.

The new look AE will be more evident later in the year (18 May), in a program of Mozart’s Trio in E flat, David Bruce’s 2008 composition Gumboots, Stuart Greenbaum’s Northern Lights and Robert Schumann’s Piano Quartet Op. 47. Griffiths will be joined by violist Tahlia Petrosian, guest pianist David Fung, violinists Kristian Winther and Anna da Silva Chen, and guest cellist Svetlana Bogosavljevic.

Works by Bloch, Turina, Gubaidulina, Poulen, Dvorak and Piazzolla are explored in Australia Ensemble’s 17 August concert featuring accordionist James Crabb.

Later in the year, pianist Andrea Lam will join the ensemble as guest (with bassoonist Andrew Barnes) for a program of works by Carl Vine, Elena Kats-Chernin (Blue Silence) and Mikhail Glinka, ending with Beethoven’s Septet in E flat.

For more information on Australia Ensemble’s 2024 programming, visit its website.

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