As leader of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Richard Tognetti has never done quite what was expected, other than to be very good at what he and the orchestra undertake. Back in March, I wrote about the orchestra’s appointment to a three-year residency at the Barbican Centre in London.
The official title is International Associate Ensemble at Milton Court at the Barbican Centre. The first season was in October; a complete success. Three strikingly varied programs were presented. The first was Mozart’s last three symphonies of which the Times, among other glowing reviews wrote: ‘Nothing about this orchestra is ever routine’.
The second concert was the UK premiere of Tognetti’s cross-artform concept, the cinematic and musical odyssey, Mountain. It was rapturously received by the sold-out audience. For their final concert in Milton Court, the new 608 capacity venue at the Barbican, the orchestra was joined by the golden girl of Australian opera, soprano Nicole Car. With additional musicians from the Guildhall of Music, the ACO presented a program of Bach, Beethoven, Bartók and, perhaps surprisingly, Sufjan Stevens. The Guardian wrote: ‘Car’s soprano glowed and glinted… the ACO itself shone in Tognetti’s arrangement…’. The ACO is our only orchestra to hold such a residency at a major performing arts centre outside of Australia. It confirms a heightened maturity and a remarkable level of recognition.
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