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Our writers

Symphony Services International has access to some of the best international writers and researchers. Here are profiles of some of our writers.

A former ABC news correspondent in south and south-east Asia, Tony Cane was for eight years assistant manager of the ABC’s London office, where he engaged touring concert artists and helped set up the Sydney Symphony’s 1974 tour of Europe. Joining the ABC Music Department following his return to Australia in 1976, he was able to pursue his long-standing musical interests as a broadcaster and writer about music. He was among the Sydney Symphony’s first pre-concert speakers and has given similar presentations for the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Musica Viva Australia, the Australia Ensemble and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

Among his special interests are Haydn, the Czech composers and Carl Nielsen. In Haydn’s 250th anniversary year, 1982, he had a volume of manuscripts then held privately in Melbourne authenticated as the long lost autograph scores of four of the composer’s Op 50 string quartets, which thus became available to scholars for the first time in their original form.

Lee Christofis has been a writer and broadcaster on dance in the national media, including ABC arts programs since 1981 and The Australian from 1994 to 2006. His chief interest in ballet music has been the repertoire of Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, notably Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky. Lee has been Curator of Dance at the National Library of Australia since 2006, where his recent work has included the exhibition, The Ballets Russes in Australia 1936-1940 and an associated five-part series for ABC Classic FM.

Lee has been a regular contributor to dance journals and programs for symphony concerts, ballet and festival performances. Amongst his many public conversations he regards those with the legendary Merce Cunningham and Russian ‘baby ballerina’ Irina Baronova as outstanding experiences. In a previous life he was a dancer with the Queensland Ballet.

Scott has written for SSI on the music of Rachmaninov.

He is known to audiences as both a soloist and chamber musician. He has given concerts throughout Australia, and his performances and recordings have been broadcast on radio and television. The recipient of numerous awards and prizes, Scott studied in London with pianists Leslie Howard and Geoffrey Parsons, and composer Malcolm Williamson. 
In 2005, Scott collaborated on Grand with Graeme Murphy and the Sydney Dance Company, giving highly acclaimed performances throughout Australia. In November 2006, the production featured at the Shanghai International Arts Festival, and later toured the United States. A CD of the music from Grand was released on the Melba label.

Scott’s study of the music of Sergei Rachmaninov and his academic research have resulted in performances of this composer’s works in Europe, where he has also given lectures and interviews. Since 2000, Scott has developed a focus on Russian music, and has visited that country for research a number of times. His first solo CD, Lilacs (ABC Classics), featured the music of Rachmaninov, while Pictures from an Exhibition (ABC Classics) was released in 2006. He currently lectures in Russian music history at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

Robert holds a BA (Hons) and a MA (Hons) degree from the University of Sydney, and a PhD from the University of NSW. He is an early music specialist with particular interest in the repertoire of the 16th and 18th centuries, especially the works of Orlando di Lasso, Claude Le Jeune, Gallus Dressler, Handel, Bach, Vivaldi and Haydn. Much of his research and writing has been focused on the relationship between music, language and literature, and Robert has a good knowledge of French, German and Latin. He has lectured and tutored in music at the University of NSW, at the University of Sydney Centre for Continuing Education, and the WEA, Sydney. He has written program annotations for both Symphony Services Australia and Musica Viva. He is also one of the directors of the Latin Summer School held annually at the University of Sydney. His major publications are an edition of Gallus Dressler’s compositional treatise, Praecepta musicae poeticae (University of Illinois Press, 2007), and articles on Dressler and the music of Orlando di Lasso. Robert also has a great interest in the visual arts and European cultural history.

Yvonne Frindle’s program notes come from the pen of a musician, a scholar, a concert programmer, a speaker and, above all, a concert-going music lover.

She completed a Bachelor of Music degree with first class honours at Sydney University, majoring in musicology and performance, and holds postgraduate diplomas in Education and Communication (Journalism). She has worked for Symphony Australia in publications and artistic planning roles, and was Artistic Administrator of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra (1999–2001) and Apollo’s Fire, the Cleveland Baroque Orchestra (2002–2005). She is currently Publications Editor & Music Presentation Manager at the Sydney Symphony, and sits on the Artistic Advisory Committee for CityMusic Cleveland.

Her writing has been published by the major Australian orchestras, Musica Viva Australia, Apollo’s Fire, CityMusic Cleveland, and other presenters, as well as ABC Classics and Koch International Classics. She also edits the programs for the Sydney Opera House’s World Orchestra presentations. She has presented pre-concert talks since 1997, appearing for the Cleveland Orchestra, Apollo’s Fire, Musica Viva, Sydney Symphony and the WASO, and has created audio features for ABC Classic FM, the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Sydney Symphony.

Yvonne Frindle admits to playing baroque and modern flutes as well as piano.

One of Australia’s most prolific writers of program notes, David Garrett has combined writing and speaking about music with a career as a programmer for musical organisations, including Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and the six Australian symphony orchestras. David’s training was as a historian, and he is studying and writing the history of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s involvement with music. He has helped train other music writers and presenters as one of the founders of the Words about Music program administered by the Australian Youth Orchestra, in association with Symphony Australia and ABC Classic FM. A frequent pre-concert speaker, David Garrett understands program notes as part of a continuum from repertoire selection to performance. Many of his notes were first written for concerts he had a hand in programming. They range from chamber and solo works to large-scale choral-orchestral pieces. Mozart and French music are particularly represented in his extensive catalogue of notes.

Anna Goldsworthy is a Melbourne-based pianist and writer. She has published numerous essays on music and cultural issues, and writes regularly for The Monthly. Anna has toured nationally and internationally as a concert pianist, and is a member of the Seraphim Trio. Her debut solo piano CD, Come With Us, was released by ABC Classics.

She currently teaches piano at the University of Melbourne, and is Artist-in-Residence at Janet Clarke Hall. Her two-part radio documentary on the Mendelssohn siblings was broadcast on ABC-FM in 2004. Anna has collaborated with her father, Peter Goldsworthy, on a stage production of the novel Maestro, and her prize-winning memoir, Piano Lessons, was published to wide acclaim by Black Inc in 2009.

Andrew has written for Symphony Australia on 19th century opera and operetta and the Strauss family. Currently he is Director of the Young Artists Program for Opera Australia.

Works Andrew has conducted include Così fan tutte (for Opera Australia and the Canberra School of Music), The Magic Flute (for OA and Lyric Opera of Queensland), The Barber of Seville (for OA, LOQ, Canberra Opera and Pacific Opera), and Trial by Jury (OA and Covent Garden Festival London).

He has also conducted Faust, La traviata, The Merry Widow, My Fair Lady, A Little Night Music, and for State Opera of South Australia: La finta giardiniera, The Marriage of Figaro, The Italian Girl in Algiers, and Sweeney Todd. He has appeared in concert and opera in London, Taiwan, Beijing, Shanghai and New Zealand and been a regular conductor of Opera Australia’s Christmas at the Opera House and the New Year’s Eve concerts.

As an accompanist, he has appeared in recital in every major concert venue and art gallery throughout Australia, at festivals, for Musica Viva and in broadcasts and recordings for ABC Radio. Recordings include best-selling CDs such as Operatunity and DVDs of H.M.S. Pinafore/Trial by Jury, The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado.

Gordon has written about music for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, Australian Financial Review and various magazines, as well as writing annotations for Symphony Australia, Musica Viva, Opera Australia and other organisations.

In 2009 Gordon Kerry was awarded an Established Composer fellowship from the Ian Potter Cultural Trust, with which to compose new works for the Sydney Symphony, Sydney Chamber Choir, Bendigo Symphony Orchestra and Scottish Chamber Orchestra and complete a new opera with playwright Louis Nowra. 2009 also saw the publication by UNSW Press of his book, New Classical Music: Composing Australia, which examines aspects of Australian music over the last 30 years.

Recent works of music include settings of poetry by John Kinsella for soprano Merlyn Quaife; a completion of Mozart’s Requiem for ABC Classic FM; string quartets for ensembles in Australia, the UK and the Netherlands; and Clouds and Trumpets for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s centenary. In 2008 he was composer in residence at the Australian National Academy of Music.

Gordon studied composition with Barry Conyngham and has held fellowships from the Australia Council, Peggy Glanville-Hicks Trust and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. He lives on a hill in north-eastern Victoria.

Over almost thirty years in the Australian music industry, James Koehne has established a career encompassing arts administration, public policy development and professional writing. Jim has engaged intensively with issues about classical music’s current situation and future prospects both at the production “coalface” and in his writings, and brings a unique and thorough perspective to addressing the industry’s challenges and opportunities.

As an administrator and policy adviser, he has worked in Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney. His career in music management began in 1982, when he was Music Officer with the Arts Council of the ACT in Canberra. He served as Music and Dance Executive with the Victorian Ministry for the Arts (now Arts Victoria) for eight years, where he played an active role in the establishment of Chamber Made Opera, the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition and the Contemporary Music Events Company. As Policy Adviser at the ABC in Sydney from 1993 to 1997, he managed the process of the corporatisation of the six symphony orchestras, involving extensive co-ordination with the ABC Board and with Federal and State Governments. He has worked as a music administrator and programmer for several ensembles and was Music Adviser to the 1990 Adelaide Festival. From 1997 until March of this year, he was Artistic Administrator and Manager of Artistic Planning for the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

Jim has pursued an active parallel career as a writer, encompassing everything from promotional copy (for the Melbourne International Festival, Adelaide Festival, and the New Zealand and Sydney Symphony orchestras, among others) to serious scholarly essays, covering music literally from Bach to Bacharach. Major essays and articles have appeared in Meanjin, Quadrant, The Age Monthly Review and Australian Financial Review, and a controversial essay, “The Flight from Banality”, in the collection of studies of Bad Music published by Routledge.

He is currently tutoring in music history at the Elder Conservatorium of the University of Adelaide, and striving to complete his PhD, an examination of Australian “Light Music”.

Andrew Riemer is the Chief Book Reviewer of The Sydney Morning Herald.

Andrew Riemer taught at Sydney University for many years. His books include Inside Outside and Sandstone Gothic.

Duffy & Snellgrove have published Hughes, his biography of art critic Robert Hughes, and in June 2004 will publish his translation of Alcheringa, a novel by Betty Villeminot. He won the Geraldine Pascall Prize for reviewing.

Natalie Shea is an experienced writer and editor across a broad range of genres. An honours graduate in Musicology and Linguistics from the University of Sydney, she has written program notes for all the Australian professional symphony orchestras, Musica Viva Australia, Halcyon, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and Sydney Chamber Choir, and her CD liner notes have appeared with releases on the ABC Classics and Walsingham labels. She is also in demand as a pre-concert speaker.

Natalie is a fluent speaker of French and a professional, NAATI-accredited translator whose translations of CD liner notes into French have been published by Melba Records. She has provided English translations of opera librettos for Pinchgut Opera and the Sydney Symphony, and her translations of opera aria texts have been used by orchestras around the country. She has extensive experience as an editor, having worked in that area for Symphony Australia and Musica Viva. She is currently the Publications Editor for the record label ABC Classics.

Natalie is also active as a singer, working with Pinchgut Opera, Cantillation, The Song Company, Halcyon, Australian Baroque Brass, Sydney Chamber Choir and many others.

Graeme Skinner is a musicologist and researcher who writes on all aspects of classical music, symphonic, chamber, early, and contemporary. His acclaimed authorised biography Peter Sculthorpe: the making of an Australian composer‎ (University of New South Wales Press, 2007) was greeted warmly by Roger Covell in The Sydney Morning Herald: “Skinner’s mastery of his sources…sets high standards for biographical thoroughness and provides…a vivid sense of Sculthorpe’s day-to-day discovery of music and people in a significant period of our artistic history.”

Graeme was a 2007 Harold White Fellow at the National Library of Australia. His recently completed University of Sydney doctoral dissertation, “Toward a General History of Australian Musical Composition: First National, 1788-1855”, charts the beginnings of settler music in Australia.
In recent years he has written for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian, published academic articles in the international journals Notes and Fontes Artis Musicae, and book chapters in scholarly symposiums, respectively on Gregorian chant and Renaissance sacred polyphony.
Other recent assignments include program notes for the Edinburgh Festival 2010 (UK), Australian Festival of Chamber Music 2010, and Opera Australia, and entries on colonial musicians for the City of Sydney’s online Dictionary of Sydney project.

Graham Strahle is a freelance writer and music critic who contributes regularly to The Australian, The Adelaide Review, and Music Forum. He has written program notes for Symphony Australia, the Adelaide Festival and the ABN AMRO Morgans International Piano Series. He has been the Music Council of Australia’s elected representative for music journalism and criticism since 2001. In addition he is a musicologist, having graduated from the University of Adelaide in early music research. He was recipient of a Fulbright postdoctoral award and held postdoctoral fellowships at King’s College London and Yale University, and wrote An Early Music Dictionary for Cambridge University Press.

Presently he is a Visiting Research Fellow and on the part-time staff at the Elder Conservatorium, University of Adelaide. He also regularly performs the viola da gamba in early music concerts, having appeared at the Coriole Music Festival, the Ballarat Goldfields Festival, Bundaleer Weekend, the Ngeringa Farm and Elder Hall concert series, and on ABC Sunday Live with the Adelaide Chamber Players. He wrote the play The Secret Life of Samuel Pepys and is editing the odes and instrumental works of John Eccles (1668-1735) for A-R Editions.

Frank Van Straten was the first archivist of the Victorian Arts Centre’s Performing Arts Museum, and its director from 1984 until 1993. His Nostalgia Show had a 15-year run on ABC Radio, and his audio documentary The Sound of Melbourne, celebrating the 75 years of 774/3LO, won a Victorian Community History Award. He has recorded hundreds of oral history interviews with performing arts practitioners.

Frank writes for many theatre programs and journals, including On Stage. His books include National Treasure: The Story of Gertrude Johnson and the National Theatre (1994), The Regent Theatre: Melbourne’s Palace of Dreams (1996), Tivoli (2003), Huge Deal: The Fortunes and Follies of Hugh D. McIntosh (2004) and Florence Young and the Golden Years of Australian Musical Theatre (2009).

Frank is a patron of the Cinema and Theatre Historical Society, a founding member of Theatre Heritage Australia, and has served on the judging panels of the Green Room and Helpmann Awards. He was Historical Consultant for Graeme Murphy’s 2001 ‘dance musical’ Tivoli. In 2007 he compiled the biographies for Live Performance Australia’s ‘Hall of Fame’ web resource and was appointed LPA’s Official Historian.

In 1999 Frank received the Medal of the Order of Australia in recognition of his services to the performing arts.