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From Hobart to Naples: Van Diemen's Band revives Italian Baroque treasures

In concert at Melbourne Recital Centre as part of Melbourne International Arts Festival 2018

Van Diemen’s Band is a dazzling chamber music orchestra dedicated to the historically informed performance of music from the 17th and 18th centuries. Featuring the finest Australian and European early-music specialists, its concerts breathe life into unjustly forgotten works, some of which have been left unloved for centuries.

No stranger to Melbourne audiences, Artistic Director and Baroque violinist Julia Fredersdorff has performed in many eminent early-music ensembles and orchestras including Ludovico’s Band and Latitude 37. Her expertise in Baroque performance combines with a passion for unearthing hidden musical treasures. She says: ‘There is so much amazing music out there collecting dust in libraries, so we are on a mission to dust them off and let them shine again.’

You can imagine her reaction to the demise of Tasmania’s popular Hobart Baroque Festival, following which Julia immediately perceived audiences’ hunger for Baroque music. The name for Van Diemen’s Band miraculously popped into her head one day, and she felt this was a sign she had to bring the orchestra into being.

Van Diemen’s Band gave its first performances in 2017 as part of Tasmania’s Ten Days on the Island festival. It makes its Melbourne debut on Monday 8 October as part of Melbourne International Arts Festival in the exquisite surrounds of Melbourne Recital Centre’s Elisabeth Murdoch Hall.

The program’s highlight is the music of Italian Baroque composer and violinist Nicola Fiorenza, whose music ripples with abundant emotion. Cello soloist Catherine Jones said:

‘I’m really looking forward to performing the Neapolitan cello concerti of Fiorenza for an Australian audience. It’s a repertoire not often done and is quite particular. It combines the typically Neapolitan bel canto singing style of the mid-18th century with smaller rhythmic cells, ornaments and rhetorical phrasings, which need a historically informed approach for the best effect – something that Van Diemen’s Band can definitely produce. I think the audience will be very surprised about how beautiful this relatively unknown repertoire is.’

Julia adds: ‘People are really going to love the Fiorenza; it is hugely passionate music with slow movements that are drop-dead-gorgeous.’ Coupled with musical treasures by Alessandro Scarlatti and Francesco Geminiani, these works speak to the passion of the Italian opera of the day, while expressing their own enduring power.

Guitar soloist William Carter said, ‘It’s rare, in my experience, to find the combination of musical strength and flexibility that Van Diemen’s Band has; usually you get one or the other.’ With rarely heard works set to become indelibly treasured, and a chamber music group that has travelled the globe to bring Baroque back for modern audiences, this is a concert to discover something brand new – at least to modern audiences.


Monday 8 October 7.30pm
Elisabeth Murdoch Hall (90-mins incl. interval)
Catherine Jones cello (Italy/Australia)
William Carter guitar (U.K.)
Van Diemen’s Band
Tickets $69 ($59 concession)
Presented by Melbourne Recital Centre in association with Melbourne International Arts Festival.

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