It’s an arresting image on the cover of our May 2022 magazine, isn’t it? It’s a portrait of Australian concert pianist Simon Tedeschi called He who hears, painted by Loribelle Spirovski, a three-time Archibald Prize finalist, and Tedeschi’s wife.
Portraits of the pianist are a running theme of our cover story, Key Change; Tedeschi is about to publish his first book, Fugitive, which he describes as “an undiluted portrait” of himself and the world he lives in, and the thing he is most proud of in his career thus far. Miriam Cosic’s profile of Tedeschi is a lot like the man himself: wide-ranging, intensely thoughtful and hugely insightful – and you can also read an excerpt of the book, in all its abstract, stream of consciousness glory.
It is a well-worn path for aspiring Australian opera singers to head to Europe, though that has become a more fraught choice due to COVID. But as Clive Paget discovers in Home and Away, Australian mezzo-soprano Anna Dowsley is managing to build a career in Europe – where her husband, New Zealand tenor Jonathan Abernethy is based – as well as maintain an active schedule in Australia. And all this with a one-year-old daughter!
Lucifer, Beelzebub, Baal, Mephistopheles – whatever name he goes by, the Devil is a source of endless fascination in Western culture, and certainly in opera. This month Opera Australia will stage a concert version of Mefistofele by Arrigo Boito, a man best known as the librettist for Verdi’s Otello and Falstaff. But as Mahima Macchione details in The Devil You (don’t) Know, Boito was also a composer, and strove to drive music forward as a member of the Italian avant-garde in the 1860s and 70s.
In our fourth feature, Notes from a Long Life, Rebecca Franks interviews 97-year-old pianist Ruth Slenczynska about her new album and her extraordinary life. Slenczynska is the last-surviving student of Rachmaninov, and is full of incredible stories about her friendship with Samuel Barber, taking advice from Arthur Rubinstein, studying under Artur Schnabel, Alfred Cortot and Egon Petri, and how she learned to put the music above all else.
Steve Dow interviews Julian Meyrick about his new book, Australia in 50 Plays, in which Meyrick explores the relationship between our national drama and our national life, and laments that more politicians don’t go to the theatre. Our Deputy Editor Hugh Robertson interviews Claire Edwardes, Artistic Director of Ensemble Offspring, about their new podcast The Offcast, which sees Edwardes talking with “musical mavericks” including Nardi Simpson, Jane Sheldon, Julian Day and others, about pushing boundaries in their art. And in our Cutting Edge column, Leigh Harrold tells us all about The ANAM Set, possibly the biggest commissioning project in Australian history, with 67 Australian composers writing a piece for each of the 67 musicians training at ANAM in 2021.
Stefanie Farrands, Principal Viola with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, talks about being immersed in music as a child in our Playing Up column; Professor Catherine Crock, the founder and Chair of the Hush Foundation, answers 5 Questions about the benefits of music to everyone in the health system; and Artistic Director of West Australian Ballet, Aurélien Scannella, talks about the impact of hearing The Sleeping Beauty for the first time, and his love of Radiohead.
Christine Hinton tackles too-eager audience members in Sacred Cow, pleading for everyone to give the music time to sink in before applauding; Guy Noble gets on his Soapbox to argue that living in the city is a constant assault on the ears, from motorbikes to construction noise to people yelling into their phones in public.
Our Recording of the Month is a disc of Scriabin’s Mazurkas by brilliant young Russian pianist Andrey Gugnin, a “most impressive recording” according to Lisa MacKinney. Clive Paget takes a closer look at more of this month’s best new releases in On the Record, headlined by two big box sets from Decca and Deutsche Grammophon. Will Yeoman finds insights galore in pianist Jeremy Denk’s new book Every Good Boy Does Fine, Jonathan W. Marshall reviews City of Gold, Meyne Wyatt’s raging cry against Australia’s endlessly replayed racial violence, and Lynden Barber looks at a new film about a year in the lives of author Roald Dahl and actor Patricia Neal. Enjoy!
Subscribe to Limelight by Tuesday 19 April, 9am AEST to receive a copy of the May 2022 issue. All purchases include the chance to win tickets and accommodation to see Maestro Zubin Mehta conduct Strauss with the Australian World Orchestra. Plus, for a limited time, receive a free six-month digital subscription to share with a friend with annual print subscription purchases.