Sydney Camerata Chamber Orchestra was formed in 2008 with the aim of nurturing and promoting the talents of some of Australia's finest young string players. Artistic Director Mathisha Panagoda & Concertmaster Liz Gormley speak to Australian Stage's Eliza Eggler and film maker Thijs Rozeboom.


When was the ‘Sydney Camerata’ formed? And Why?

Sydney Camerata was formed in 2008 with the desire to provide performance opportunities to young emerging professional musicians and to bring classical music to new audiences.

What style of music are you most interested in performing/playing and why?
We play a variety of styles of music ranging from early Baroque to the great Romantic works and modern Australian music written just this year.

You mention on your website an annual composition competition – can you tell us more about that?
We have for two years run an annual composition competition and in 2010 we are pleased to announce a composition fellowship program which will allow an Australian composer to workshop new music with the orchestra as well as hear commissioned works performed by the ensemble.

What happens at your composer – performer workshops?
Our composer-performer workshops are orchestral rehearsals in which the composer is present and interacts with the ensemble making suggestions and having the opportunity to try out ideas with their music.

How often do you rehearse? What do your members do in addition to their activities with ‘Sydney Camerata’?
Our musicians are drawn from around Australia, but predominately Sydney. They are all graduates of various Conservatoriums around the country and many are pursuing postgraduate studies and/or performing as members of the professional orchestras and ensembles in Australia.

What would you like to see the ‘Camerata’ achieve in the future?
I would like to see the Camerata continue to share a passion and enthusiasm for fine music with audiences. We look forward to meeting new audiences and performing great chamber music.

Are the ‘Camerata’ musicians all Sydney based as the name suggests or do you use interstate musicians as well?
Our musicians come from various parts of Australia, but are predominately Sydney based. In this concert we will have musicians from Sydney, Adelaide, Hobart, Melbourne and Brisbane joining us.

How do you choose the pieces for each concert? Is the decision a group decision? And the pieces for Saturday’s concert, could you tell us something about each piece? What specifically drew you to them?
As the artistic director I am responsible for the repertoire we perform, however it is a collaborative process with the musicians making suggestions. The process also depends on factors such as the availability of parts and availability of certain musicians who might be required.

How long is the rehearsal process for a concert?
We rehearse intensively - that is - we will usually meet in Sydney up to a week prior to the concert and rehearse every day in an intensive mode. The musicians are sent practice parts months in advance to allow the rehearsal process to be efficient.

Do the ‘Camerata’ musicians hope to build a career in Australia or do they think greener pastures await them in Europe?
As with any career, it is hard to say where one will end up or where opportunities may present themselves. In Australia there is a wealth of musical talent and limited professional opportunities. We hope that our musicians whether based here or overseas will feel that they can always return and have our ensemble to perform with.

What do you think is the future of chamber music in Australia? - and the future of new Australian music?
I think chamber music in Australia has a bright future given its versatility. There is an enormous range of fantastic repertoire. Also logistically and financially it is often easier to put on concerts on this nature, not to mention they can take place in such a variety of venues.

As a burgeoning, new chamber group, how do you survive financially? Does the government help or do you have to rely solely on the generosity of private sponsors?
We receive no government funding and rely mostly on the generosity of private sponsors and ticket sales.

Could you tell us something about the composer of ‘Down Tango’d’? Will he be present at the performance?
Stephen Yates grew up in Newcastle and is now based in Sydney. It will be a pleasure for us to welcome him to the concert on Saturday night.

Why do you think people should get off their lounges on Saturday night and come to your concert?
We believe it is always much more exciting to hear and see a live performance such as ours rather than watching TV. It’s a chance to also meet the musicians, join us for complimentary champagne after the concert and perhaps discover some new music.

What do you hope the audience will walk away with at the end of a ‘Camerata’ perfomance’?
I hope the audience will walk away with a lasting memory, an appreciation for music and a desire to discover more about classical music. We hope that the concert will be enjoyable and that the audience may share our enthusiasm.

Sydney Camerata perform Sat 19 December 2009 at Paddington Uniting Church. Further details»


Cover Image - Sydney Camerata Chamber Orchestra. Photo - Maja Baska

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