Concert Reviews

Vivaldi - Purcell - Telemann
with guest artist
Kimberly Scriven (recorders)

21 August 2016

The group Camerata Academica of the Antipodes, directed by Dr Imogen Coward, marked its second anniversary on 21st August. Its debut concert had been held in the same hall, St. Albans at Epping, on 31st August 2014.

Few would claim that Sydney is a world centre of high culture, nor even NSW or Australia. We are therefore all the more indebted to the Camerata for helping to raise our level. A resident group of young people dedicated to the making and fostering of artistic music, in this case mostly from the Baroque, and including an academic ingredient, is far from the norm here. Not only are the Camerata doing this, they are doing it very well.

Their support for children’s musical education continues, and as a hors d’oeuvre we heard a group of beginners, who played with confidence and demonstrated that they had mastered off-the-beat entries. Three of them were indeed no longer beginners but now veterans, having played in the inaugural concert.

As before, the program unfolded with a minimum of announcements, and there was no interval; the resulting smooth continuity was welcome. Also as before, the academic and historical studies were kept entirely in the background; for instance, the ornamentation incorporated in the Handel "Lascia ch'io pianga" aria from Rinaldo sung by Dr Coward was partly improvised, but this was left unmentioned.

Most items were quite brief, and thus did not risk exceeding the attention span of an audience drawn from today’s general population. A good mix of lamenting and rejoicing was achieved in the program selection. I will not draw attention here to the many notable individual contributions except for the satisfying compositions of Leon Coward and an expressive highlight provided by the visiting recorder-player, Kimberley Scriven, in Telemann's Suite in A.

Bravo to the Camerata!

Review by Nigel Nettheim

Corelli, Vivaldi, Telemann & Wieniawski's Legende for Violin

15 May 2016
"...a reflection of the Camerata’s recognition of, and deepest tribute to, these legendary composers and the performing tradition of their times..."
Criticks British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (BSECS).

Corelli, Purcell, Mozart & Vivaldi's "Spring" from The Four Seasons

5 December 2015

"A festive showcase of the Camerata's distinctive identity and historically informed approach...Precise but never rigid, refined but exciting, these musicians give of themselves by entering the music and allowing the audience to experience this generosity of sound."
Criticks British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (BSECS).

Handel, Vivaldi, Wieniawski, Gluck

23 August 2015

Although only a year old, Camerata Academica has already established a distinctly recognisable culture and ethos...the ability to blend effortless music-making with an authentic desire to connect with its listeners was on full display from start to finish..."
Criticks British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (BSECS)

Handel, Vivaldi, Telemann, G&S

24 May 2015

Camerata Academica of the Antipodes span six centuries of music in their superb first concert of the season...The best word to describe this musical journey would be 'joy'...The character of the performances and of the Camerata’s interpretations reflect the fact that most of the members of the orchestra are also soloists in their own right. The orchestra is never less than fully engaged with the audience, and we are invited to meet them in the music..."
Criticks British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (BSECS)

Corelli, Purcell, Bach, Nachez, G&S

6 December 2014

“Camerata Academica of the Antipodes present another stunning evening of music to end their 2014 season... their engagement with scholarship and historically informed practices, their enthusiasm, talent, and entertaining variety of repertoire, make for a musically combustible mix, and will no doubt produce many more fine concerts..."
Criticks British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (BSECS)

Handel, Vivaldi, Purcell, G&S

31 August 2014

“Camerata Academica of the Antipodes delight and astonish in their debut concert...
The inaugural concert of the Camerata Academica of the Antipodes presented a delightful spread of bite-sized musical morsels, drawn from five centuries, to a full-house of enthusiastic concert-goers and scholars...”
Criticks British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (BSECS)


The group [Camerata Academica of the Antipodes] made a very good impression, especially through bridging the gap between academia and the real world of non-specialist audience members. Contributing to that bridging was a selection of short items, for it is widely noticed that attention spans are diminishing these days. The items, mostly from the Baroque period, were performed, where appropriate, at suitably brisk tempos. The informal atmosphere was welcome, including encouragement to applaud at any time. The academic approach, which the Camerata had clearly taken in their study of early music performance, would not have intruded consciously upon most of the audience members, yet it was an important part of the background, as the program notes indicated.

Before the concert proper began, the group's support of musical education was reflected with a group of beginning children playing their violins in unison. I estimated the typical ratio of player height to instrument length to be between two and three.

The program ventured beyond early music several times, thus satisfying a variety of tastes in a general audience. After Franz Schubert, in his moving "Staendchen" from Schwanengesang, followed Arthur Sullivan who, after all, had studied Schubert's compositions closely. All the performances were well received, and deservedly so, a highlight being provided by the guest artist soprano Georgia Kokkoris in an item from The Pirates of Penzance.

The hall was very resonant, so it was not easy for the performers to explore the softer end of the full range of dynamics. On the other hand, a stentor or a microphone would have assisted the announcing. But I have no doubt that these academics, wearing their learning lightly, will continue to make a great and wide impression.

Nigel Nettheim 

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