Great Performers 2018

Melbourne Recital Centre’s 2018 Great Performers series is on sale now.

The Centre’s flagship international concert series is dedicated solely to the art of the recital and, uniquely in Australia, showcases the talents of virtuoso performers of a variety of instruments and singers. Over 10 concerts, audiences can experience the best violinists, pianists, vocalists and even an accordionist in one of the world’s most superb halls, the 1000-seat Elisabeth Murdoch Hall. Fittingly, for one of Australia’s great venues, the Australian voice is powerfully present, with four internationally renowned Australian musicians in the spotlight.

In its eighth year, Great Performers continues to present distinguished artists, new discoveries, international luminaries and Australian legends. Melbourne Recital Centre’s Director of Artistic Planning, Marshall McGuire has selected a bold and diverse range of brilliant performers, playing repertoire from the Baroque to the 21st century. ‘The Great Performers series aspires to surprise, to challenge and redefine your idea of what great performance can be. Above all, we look for musicians who have something to say – the artists in 2018 are masters of the art of storytelling.’

The series begins in February with one of the world’s most revered musicians, Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire (26 Feb). A musicians-musician if ever there was one, Freire brings a profound thoughtfulness and exquisite touch to everything from classical warhorses to delicate chamber music. The year ahead sees a focus on the voice, with the first of three acclaimed singers, Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman with Australian pianist Ian Munro (21 Mar). The multitasking singer is an opera star, acclaimed recitalist and recording artist, and more recently an author. Brueggergosman and Munro perform exotica by Ravel and Montsalvagte and witty cabaret numbers by American composer William Bolcom, plus some surprises.

With his leading-man charisma and opulent sound, Canadian violinist James Ehnes (9 April) is in demand across the globe. While he usually fronts an orchestra, this is a chance to hear him up close and intimate as he plays three solo violin masterpieces by J.S. Bach, including the towering D minor Partita. The second of our celebrated singers is the renowned American baritone Thomas Hampson in his Melbourne Recital Centre debut (31 May). McGuire says, ‘Hampson is simply one of the greats, and a superb interpreter of the song of Gustav Mahler – naturally we’ll hear Mahler in this recital – but much else too, giving us an insight into the musical soul of this outstanding singer.’

Leslie Howard’s recordings (99 CDs containing 7255 minutes of formidably virtuosic playing) and live performances reveal the multifaceted genius of Franz Liszt. The Melbourne-born pianist celebrates his 70th birthday with a recital of the composer he has spent a life championing with a program inspired by Liszt’s appreciation of opera (13 June). Another celebrated Australian artist, Stuart Skelton, has made his mark in opera houses the world over. One of the most-lauded tenors of his generation, Skelton specialises in the most demanding roles in the repertoire – the operas of Richard Wagner. Skelton UK-based Richard Peirson explore rarely-heard gems by composers both familiar and overlooked (3 Aug).

British pianist Paul Lewis returns for the second year of his epic three-year survey of music by Haydn, Beethoven and Brahms over two evenings (27 Sep and 1 Oct). An audience favourite and a fascinating artist, Lewis has been a frequent guest of the Centre, and appeared in the inaugural Great Performers series. The formidable duo British violinist Tasmin Little and Australian pianist Piers Lane have been making beautiful music together for years. Their recital will demonstrate their special rapport and their gift for communication in Romantic gems by Schubert, Szymanowski and Franck (23 Oct). Finally, a true find: the spectacular artistry of Ksenija Sidorova, a classical accordion player from Latvia. Marshall McGuire says, ‘I first heard Ksenija in Townsville at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music – she dazzled audiences there with her spectacular virtuosity and thoroughly engaging stage presence. It’s often on the rarely heard instruments where we are surprised, challenged, delighted and moved, and in Ksenija’s hands this instrument becomes an orchestra. It’s a perfect way to end a remarkable series of great performers.’

Melbourne Recital Centre’s Great Performers Series 2018 is available now from or by phone (03) 9699 3333, season ticket packages start from $210.


Nelson Freire (Brazil) piano, Mon 26 February 7.30pm
Measha Brueggergosman (Canada) soprano with Ian Munro (Australia) piano, Wed 21 March 7.30pm
James Ehnes (Canda) violin, Mon 9 April 7.30pm
Thomas Hampson (U.S.A.) baritone with Maciej Pikulski (Poland) piano, Thu 31 May 7.30pm
Leslie Howard (Australia/U.K.) piano, Wed 13 June 7.30pm
Stuart Skelton tenor (Australia) with Richard Peirson (U.K.) piano, Friday 3 August
Paul Lewis (U.K.) piano, Thu 27 September & Mon 1 October
Tasmin Little (U.K.) violin with Piers Lane (Australia) piano, Tue 23 October 7.30pm
Ksenija Sidorova (Latvia) accordion, Tue 4 December 7.30pm

Plus, audiences can join musicians and experts to delve deeper into the music and lives of the composers by attending a free pre-concert talk 45-minutes before each performance.



You can stream highlights of Great Performers 2018 on Melbourne Recital Centre’s curated Spotify channel at


Di Rolle | 0419 001 068