Season Preview: Your guide to the arts in 2024

Curator Casey Green calls the Sydney Opera House’s Utzon Music series the renowned venue’s “best-kept secret.” With some glowing Limelight reviews throughout 2023, saying that the series is “going strong” into its 17th year is no stretch.

“Looking to 2024, there’s so many reasons to remain connected to and immersed in music,” said Green.

The Utzon Room. Photo supplied

“Total immersion is best experienced in the Utzon Room, where – mere metres away – audiences can experience the world’s finest musicians gathering to play music that will uplift the spirit and soothe the soul,” says Green.

On 3 March, the season opens with Brooklyn Rider on its debut Australian tour. The New York-based quartet will perform works by Shostakovich, Osvaldo Golijov and its own Colin Jacobsen, who has composed a work that draws upon Ruth Crawford Seeger’s collected folk songs.

The Canberra-born, New York-based pianist Lisa Moore will make her return on 17 March with a program that explores the birds and the bugs. Schumann’s Forest Scenes, Glass’s Kafkaesque Metamorphosis II and more colours a program from Romanticism to contemporary composition.

With a passion for modern music, another consummate New York string outfit – JACK quartet – makes its Utzon debut on 6 April, presenting Johny MacMillan’s Songs from the Seventh Floor and two works written especially for it by American composer Amy Williams and Australia’s Liza Lim.

Arriving straight after performances with the 2024 Canberra International Music Festival, Trio Karénine will make its SOH debut on 5 May. The French ensemble will offer French and Spanish desserts from Ravel, Saint-Saëns and more.

VOCES8. Photo © Andy Staples

Utzon Music’s headliner falls in the dead centre of its season. On Sun 23 June, VOCES8 sees Utzon Music expand to the SOH’s Concert Hall for a concert Green believes “will be life-affirming”.

The British vocal ensemble will deliver the world premiere of Endlessly by American composer and arranger Taylor Scott Davis, as well as works by Nat King Cole, Don McLean, Simon and Garfunkel, John Barry and more. Vocal delights continue with Australia’s soprano Siobhán Stagg in July, who will be accompanied by pianist Nico de Villiers for works by Richard Hageman, Strauss and Duparc.

The second trio to premiere in 2024 will be Trio Gaspard, showcasing works for piano trio from Haydn to now on 17 August.

In its 2019 Utzon Music performance, Steve Moffat noted the LA Philharmonic Wind Quintet’s “warm and burnished tone” in a four-star review. This time, the five LA Phil members return on 22 September with a program that collates Ross Edwards’ summery Incantations, the neoclassical stylings of Jean Françaix, and music from West Side Story.

Renowned Afghan-American and composer Qais Essar returns to Australia after his 2022 east coast tour. Also a composer and producer, Essar will perform on the rahab, a lute-like instrument from Afghanistan, in a program of Indian classical raga and folk music with tabla player Murtaza Damoon.

Closing the year on 24 November is a solo recital from pianist Konstantin Shamray. The Russian-born pianist was a nominee for Limelight’s 2023 Artist of the Year, and won both First Prize and the People’s Choice Award in the 2018 Sydney International Piano Competition.

Tickets for the general public are released on 15 Dec, though SOH Insiders are able to dive in on 12 Dec.

More about the 2024 Utzon Music series can be found here.

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