Musica Viva Festival This Weekend

Mischa Maisky
Mischa Maisky

Over four jam-packed days from  today (Thursday 9  April) to Sunday 12 April, Musica Viva presents its biennial Musica Viva Festival at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

Festival goers of all tastes will be entertained by some of the world’s most talented chamber musicians in seven concerts, along with a number of interactive music-themed festival events.

Festival events include:

– Cellist Mischa Maisky appearing along with other recent Musica Viva guest performers, Serbian pianist Aleksandar Madžar, Armenian clarinettist Narek Arutyunian, the Doric String Quartet from the UK and the Pavel Haas Quartet from the Czech Republic

– Bella Hristova, winner of the 2013 Avery Fisher Career Grant and the 2007 Michael Hill International Violin Competition, making her Australian debut

– Guitarist Karin Schaupp, Melbourne pianist Daniel de Borah and the Orava Quartet from Brisbane

Karin Schaupp
Karin Schaupp

– The world premieres of two works by Australian composers. Perth based Lachlan Skipworth’s first Piano Trio and Natalie Williams’ string octet Saudade performed by Bella Hristova and the Pavel Haas Quartet

– Mischa Maiskyl performing Bach’s Cello Suites, Nicolas Altstaedt and the Doric String Quartet performing Glazunov’s String Quintet

– Gavin Bryars’ iconic Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet, involving most of the festival artists and images from the exhibition ‘Through Your Eyes’: photographs taken by homeless people in Sydney of each other and their surroundings

– A series of performances by the Australian Youth Orchestra Chamber Players directed by German cellist Nicolas Altstaedt

– Family Mornings from 10 am to midday each day, offering children a variety of music-themed free activities, including craft with Sydney’s queen of craft, Kaila Percusco; a workshop where they can create music with the Australian-made HarmonyWiz iPad app; percussion and ukulele workshops with Tom the Pom; and mini guided tours of the Festival’s violin and bow exhibitions.  Activities from 10am to 11am are geared to children aged six to nine, and from 11am to noon activities will be aimed at children ages 10 and up.

Pianist Aleksandar Madžar
Pianist Aleksandar Madžar

– From Friday to Sunday Musica Viva’s Artistic Director, Carl Vine AO is in conversation in the Music Café interviewing distinguished festival artists Nicolas Altstaedt, Aleksandar Madžar, John Myerscough (Doric String Quartet), Thomas Chawner (Orava Quartet), Pavel Nikl (Pavel Haas Quartet), Bella Hristova, Karin Schaupp and Narek Arutyunian about their work.

– Other guest talks including a presentation by Musica Viva’s photographer Keith Saunders entitled ‘How to Shoot Musicians’; author and academic Dorottya Fabian will give a brief history of the Cello Suites and the recordings that made them famous; Ruben Zilibowitz, Australian mathematician and creator of the HarmonyWiz app, will talk about his creation; clarinettist Narek Arutyunian presents ‘The Secret Life of the Clarinet’; musicologist and critic Peter McCallum will discuss the impact of migration on Sydney’s musical culture; and in Musica Viva’s 70th anniversary year, a special presentation is scheduled to be given on Musica Viva founder Richard Goldner’s legacy by his son Peter Goldner and violinist Charmian Gadd.

– Meet the Makers, which consists of two exhibitions- one featuring modern Italian violins curated by luthier Simeone Morassi. The second is the largest French bow exhibition ever assembled in Australia, set up by leading international archetier, Pierre Guillaume.

– Have your questions answered in “Ask the Experts” sessions focused on the piano, violin and bow. Two representatives Theme & Variations Piano Services, will be on hand to assist with piano questions; one of the world’s premier dealers in fine stringed instruments, Peter Biddulph, visits from London to provide expert advice and informal consultations on the violin; and expert Michael Maurushat, maker and carer for bows of many of Australia’s finest string players, will be on hand to answer all questions relating to the bow.

– Two demonstrations take place on Friday 10 April – one by leading bow expert Pierre Guillaume who is joined by Festival Artist, violinist Bella Hristova, in an illuminating demonstration of French bows, and immediately following, a performance by the Sydney Conservatorium’s Hillel String Quartet, winners of the 2015 Westheimer Fellowship, playing on fine, contemporary Italian instruments from the violin exhibition.

– Other experiences include a masterclass by Mischa Maisky on Friday 10 April; a live broadcast of RN’s The Music Show with Andrew Ford in the Music Café on Saturday 11 April starting at 10am; a video booth that can be visited on Saturday and Sunday, where Festival goers can share their Musica Viva stories to help celebrate the organisation’s 70th anniversary; Festival closing drinks after the final concert on Sunday

– Daily documentaries screened at the Festival Cinema; guided tours of the Sydney Conservatorium; a photographic exhibition by Keith Saunders; lunchtime performances in the Music Café by The Acappelicans and Musica Viva In Schools groups and musicians, The Sousaphonics and Llew and Mara Kiek; fun and interactive light painting and long-exposure photography sessions where participants can get their portrait taken surrounded by music and light; demonstrations of the HarmonyWiz app;

– Festival lunchboxes will be available for purchase daily, and gourmet dinners are on offer in the Music Café before the evening concerts from Thursday through Saturday.

Musica Viva Festival, 9-12 April, Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Conservatorium Rd, Sydney. For tickets and information visit

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