It’s a star-packed issue this month. Editor-at-Large Clive Paget talks to Sydney Symphony Orchestra Chief Conductor Simone Young about the upcoming Sydney premiere of Schoenberg’s mighty Gurrelieder. It’s not only going to be a first for Sydney, Young reveals. “It’s going to be a first for me! I’ve known it from recordings for yonks because it’s a favourite of people who do my kind of repertoire – Mahler, Richard Strauss, Berg – but it calls for such extravagant forces that the opportunity to do it doesn’t arise very often. You need the right kind of hall as well, which we now have in Sydney.”

Cover of Limelight's March 2024 issue

This month’s cover image features Opera Australia’s 2022 concert version of Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda under the baton of conductor Renato Palumbo. Photo © Prudence Upton.

The Icelandic piano star Víkingur Ólafsson is also making his Australian debut in March, as part of his year-long global tour of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. “It’s a little bit like Olympic gymnastics,” says Ólafsson –the most talked-about pianist in the world right now – in an interview with Paget. “You are absolutely exposed in this music – as you are in Bach in general; more exposed than in any other keyboard music I know.”

Ahead of the Adelaide Festival performance of Lior and Nigel Westlake’s hugely popular song cycle Compassion, presented for the first time with its companion piece Ngapa William Cooper, co-written with Dr Lou Bennett, Jansson J. Antmann explores the serendipitous relationship created between the singer-songwriter and the composer-conductor, and asks them what comes first: the lyrics or the music?

In another of this month’s long reads, arts writer Steve Dow dons his hard hat and steel-capped boots for a survey of the latest renovations being undertaken at some of our leading arts venues, and in a timely feature, regular contributor Shamistha de Soysa unpacks the pros and cons of in-concert opera performances. Are they really the poor relation of a fully-staged production? Or can they stand as a unique form, with upsides for performers, opera companies and audiences alike?

Limelight’s Maddy Briggs turns her gaze northwards for the second edition of Brisbane Powerhouse’s ΩHM Festival of Other Music and talks to Arts Program Director and festival co-curator Brad Spolding about the city’s rising international profile. She also speaks to bassist Lloyd Swanton of improvised music masters The Necks about their entirely off-the-cuff contribution to the event.

In this month’s coverage of new music, composer Deborah Cheetham Fraillon explains how her new work Earth – commissioned by Melbourne Symphony Orchestra as a celestial addition to Gustav Holst’s The Planets – broke her compositional silence in the wake of the outcome of the Voice to Parliament referendum.

Limelight Editor Jo Litson talks to poet Kate Llewellyn about her new work Faith, which has been set to music by Anne Cawrse for the Adelaide Chamber Singers, who will perform it live at this year’s Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art. Virtuoso German cellist Alban Gerhardt tells us about his “beaten-up” 1710 Matteo Goffriller cello, and why it’s such a challenge to play, in this month’s Playing Up column, while Marcia Hines shares her love of gospel music and her take on the character of Teen Angel in the musical Grease in My Music.

As always, we have all the latest classical and art music albums covered in our reviews section (a Finnish Recording of the Month; Tognetti’s resounding Beethoven and more) and reviews of the must-see movies and must-read books. And you can’t go past Guy Noble’s Soapbox. The subject for consideration this month? Tantric music-making!

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