Professor The Honourable Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO
Professor The Honourable Dame Marie Bashir AD, CVO is the former and second longest-serving Governor of New South Wales. Born in Narrandera, New South Wales, Bashir graduated from the University of Sydney in 1956 and held various medical positions, with a particular emphasis in psychiatry. In 1993 Bashir was appointed the Clinical Director of Mental Health Services for the Central Sydney Area Health Service, a position she held until appointed governor on 1 March 2001. She has also served as the Chancellor of the University of Sydney (2007–2012).
Elena Kats-Chernin - Composer
Elena Kats-Chernin is one of the most cosmopolitan composers working today, having reached millions of listeners worldwide through her prolific catalogue of works for theatre, ballet, orchestra, and chamber ensemble. Her dramatically vivid music communicates a mixture of lightheartedness and heavy melancholy, combining strong rhythmic figures with elements of cabaret, tango, ragtime, and klezmer.
Born in 1957 in Tashkent (Uzbekistan), Kats-Chernin received training at the Gnessin Musical College before immigrating to Australia in 1975. She graduated from the New South Wales Conservatory in 1980 and was awarded a DAAD (German academic exchange) grant to study with Helmut Lachenmann in Hanover. She remained in Germany for 13 years, returning in 1994 to Australia where she now lives in Sydney.
One of Australia’s leading composers, Elena Kats-Chernin has created works in nearly every genre. Among her many commissions are pieces for Ensemble Modern, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the Adelaide, Tasmanian and Sydney Symphony Orchestras, Present Music, City of London Sinfonia, Swedish Chamber Orchestra and the North Carolina Symphony.
Her brilliantly scored, energetic, and often propulsive music has been choreographed by dance-makers around the world. In 2000 she collaborated with leading Australian choreographer Meryl Tankard in a series of large-scale dance works. The first of these, "Deep Sea Dreaming", was broadcast to an audience of millions worldwide as part of the opening ceremonies of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
Recent works include the concerto for basset clarinet and chamber orchestra Ornamental Air which has been toured internationally and also released on CD for Chandos by Michael Collins, and her fourth opera The Rage of Life, staged in Belgium, Holland, Hungary, Germany and Switzerland. For the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and choir, she composed Prelude and Cube.
Kats-Chernin's music continues to be heard on TV and at the cinema in the UK with the long-running Lloyds TSB advertising campaign "For the journey…" employing Eliza Aria from her ballet Wild Swans. Her piece Russian Rag became Max's theme in the claymation film "Max & Mary" by Adam Elliott.
In 2011 Kats-Chernin was appointed Composer-in-Residence with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Her first symphony, Symphonia Eluvium for organ, choir and orchestra commemorating the devastating Queensland floods of January 2011, was premiered that year by QSO conducted by Asher Fisch at the Brisbane Festival. In 2012, the work was voted by the readers of the Australian monthly performing arts journal Limelight as the best composition of the year.
Elena Kats-Chernin is one of the subjects of a "Creative Minds" 6 episode series of artist’s portraits. The documentary by Robin Hughes was made for Australian TV’s STUDIO channel.
A CD of her complete music for string quartet, performed by Acacia, was released under the title "Blue Silence" by Vexations840 in 2012.
One of Elena Kats-Chernin’s most recent major premieres was her adaptation of Monteverdi’s three operas (Orpheus, Odysseus, Poppea) at the Komische Oper Berlin, directed by Barrie Kosky, in September 2012 – a 12 hour Marathon performance with live telecast on 3sat TV.
Im January 2014, her music for the drama Frankenstein at the Sydney Ensemble Theatre won jointly the "Sydney Theatre Award 2013 for best score". In March 2014 she was a joint winner of Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award.
In September 2015 Shobana Jeyasingh's dance work Material Men was premiered with Elena Kats-Chernin’s score performed by Smith String Quartet at the Southbank Centre in London.
Her opera Schneewittchen und die 77 Zwerge opened at Komische Oper Berlin on the 1st November 2015. The dance piece Three Dancers, choreographed by Didy Veldman, to Elena’s music had been premiered at Sadler’s Wells, London, on the 3rd November 2015.
Two more world premieres, this time at the Sydney Opera House, are programmed for autumn 2016: The Witching Hour, a concerto for 8 double basses and orchestra, and Singing Trees for string orchestra, commissioned by the Australian World Orchestra and the Australian Chamber Orchestra respectively.
Elena Kats-Chernin's music is published exclusively by Boosey & Hawkes.
Simon Tedeschi - Pianist
Simon Tedeschi is quite often described by respected critics and musical peers as one of the finest artists in the world making the young pianist’s mark on music both undeniable and admirable.
Tedeschi first performed a Mozart Piano Concerto at age 9 in the Sydney Opera House. He has studied piano in Australia with Neta Maughan for 10 years as well as in London with Noretta Conci and Boston with Peter Serkin.
Tedeschi has a string of international prizes and scholarships under his belt. This includes winning the Open Age Concerto Series and ‘Most Outstanding in all Youth Sections’ at the IBLA Grand Prize in Italy in 1994 and taking out the top prize in the keyboard section of the Royal Overseas League Music Competition in London (2002).
While working with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Tedeschi went on to be named the Symphony Australia Young Performer of the Year and was a recipient of a $10,000 Queen’s Trust Overseas Study Award.
More recently, Tedeschi was awarded a Centenary of Federation Medal by the Prime Minister of Australia and was the recipient of an award from the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia and the Australian Opera Auditions Committee.
In 2000, Tedeschi signed a recording deal with Sony Music Australia under its Sony Classics label and his debut CD led to nominations for an ARIA award for Classical Record of the Year.
The versatility and scope of Tedeschi’s appeal is exemplified by having shared the stage with numerous acclaimed musicians, including conductor Alan Gilbert, soprano Yvonne Kenny, jazz luminary James Morrison and Larry Adler, the legendary Harmonica player who called Tedeschi ‘the greatest pianist he ever heard.’ At age 13, Tedeschi gave a private recital to the iconic Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti.
In 2004, Tedeschi recorded Tchaikovsky’s 1st Piano Concerto and Grieg’s Piano Concerto with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Richard Bonynge and in 2013 recorded Gershwin and Me (Universal/ABC), a CD of both solo and orchestral music that went to number 1 on the classical music charts for two weeks.
Regularly invited to perform for foreign dignitaries, Tedeschi has entertained the likes of Their Royal Highnesses the Crown Prince and Princess of Denmark, Vladimir Putin, George W Bush and Nelson Mandela at events such as the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, World Expo and G’day USA.
Charitable performances and commitment to worthwhile causes have been most prominent in Tedeschi’s career. Among these special performances includes playing for the Dalai Lama at a fundraising concert in London (2000), for the Karuna Foundation in support of Cambodian Orphans and at the Sydney Opera House gala concert for the Wayside Chapel. Tedeschi is the Roving Ambassador for The Australian Children’s Music Foundation, Ambassador for Sydney Eisteddfod, and patron of Ryde Eisteddfod, the Bowraville Cultural Festival and the Blue Mountains Concert Society.
His profile has permeated to other art forms, most notably as the subject in Cherry Hood’s striking portrait of Tedeschi that won the 2002 Archibald Prize, one of Australia’s oldest and most prestigious art awards, for her work entitled Simon Tedeschi Unplugged. He is also attached to the Oscar-winning movie ‘Shine’, playing the hands of acclaimed pianist David Helfgott and was a regular guest on ABC TV’s Spicks and Specks.
Recent seasons include the role of Mozart for the second time in Sydney Opera House’s acclaimed Babies Proms, a follow up Gershwin album for Universal/ABC entitled Gershwin Take 2, a one-man show for children at the highly acclaimed Monkey Baa Theatre Company entitled Simon Tedeschi: Pianist and Prankster based on Tedeschi’s own childhood at the piano, and workshops all over Australia. He has just released a recording of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition for ABC/Universal and is scheduled to give hundreds of recitals throughout the country. Simon is also Brand Ambassador for the new Casio Celviano Grand Hybrid piano.
Richard Tognetti - Violinist
Australian violinist, conductor and composer, Richard Tognetti has established an international reputation for his compelling performances and artistic individualism. He studied at the Sydney Conservatorium with Alice Waten, in his home town of Wollongong with William Primrose, and at the Berne Conservatory (Switzerland) with Igor Ozim, where he was awarded the Tschumi Prize as the top graduate soloist in 1989. Later that year he was appointed Leader of the Australian Chamber Orchestra and subsequently became Artistic Director. He is also Artistic Director of the Maribor Festival in Slovenia and Creative Associate of Classical Music for Melbourne Festival.
Tognetti performs on period, modern and electric instruments. His numerous arrangements, compositions and transcriptions have expanded the chamber orchestra repertoire and been performed throughout the world.
As director or soloist, Tognetti has appeared with the Handel & Haydn Society (Boston), Hong Kong Philharmonic, Camerata Salzburg,Tapiola Sinfonietta, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Nordic Chamber Orchestra and the Australian symphony orchestras. He conducted Mozart's Mitridate for the Sydney Festival and gave the Australian premiere of Ligeti’s Violin Concerto with the Sydney Symphony.
Tognetti has collaborated with colleagues from across various art forms and artistic styles, including Joseph Tawadros, Dawn Upshaw, James Crabb, Emmanuel Pahud, Jack Thompson, Katie Noonan, Neil Finn,Tim Freedman, Paul Capsis, Bill Henson and Michael Leunig.
In 2003, Tognetti was co-composer of the score for Peter Weir’s Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World; violin tutor for its star, Russell Crowe; and can also be heard performing on the award-winning soundtrack. In 2005, he co-composed the soundtrack to Tom Carroll’s surf film Horrorscopes and, in 2008, created The Red Tree, inspired by illustrator Shaun Tan’s book. He co-created and starred in the 2008 documentary film Musica Surfica, which has won best film awards at surf film festivals in the USA, Brazil, France and South Africa.
As well as directing numerous recordings by the ACO, Tognetti has recorded Bach’s solo violin repertoire for ABC Classics, winning three consecutive ARIA awards, and the Dvorak and Mozart Violin Concertos for BIS.
A passionate advocate for music education,Tognetti established the ACO’s Education and Emerging Artists programs in 2005.
Richard Tognetti was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2010. He holds honorary doctorates from three Australian universities and was made a National Living Treasure in 1999. He performs on a 1743 Guarneri del Gesù violin, lent to him by an anonymous Australian private benefactor.