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Sergei Rachmaninoff: 150th Jubilee Lunchtime Concert

Dear Friends!

2023 marked the 150th jubilee of the great composer Sergei Rachmaninoff. In this concert, we celebrate his art with a selection of his songs and arias.

Singing: Natalia Melnik (soprano), Ian Warwick (baritone), Jill Sullivan (mezzo-soprano), Louise Keast (soprano) Piano: Benjamin Burton

Friday, October 13th 2023, 1.10pm - 1.50pm, St.Stephen's Uniting Church, 197 Macquarie St, Sydney NSW 2000

Entry by note donation, donations collected at the door.

Facebook event link

(Registration is not required)

About out performers:

Jill Sullivan (Mezzo-Soprano)

Jill has performed throughout Australia in opera, concert, oratorio and recital.

She has performed for Opera Queensland, West Australian Opera, recorded for Victoria State Opera and now sings on a casual basis for Opera Australia. Her wide vocal range has facilitated soprano and mezzo roles that include Flora, Leila ( Iolanthe), Second Lady, Mercédès, Cherubino, Euridice, Saffi and Belinda. She looks forward to performing the role of Madame Flora in The Medium for Operantics in October, Neris for the TOSC adaptation of Cheribuni’s Medée in 2024 and is covering the role of Rossweisse for Opera Australia in the Brisbane Ring Cycle. Jill began musical studies on piano later switching to voice and has a Licentiate of Music (AMEB, Singing) and an Honours Degree in Opera Studies through The University of Manchester. While resident in Perth she co-founded the Lieder Society of WA, jointly ran a production company, Opera in Company that promoted young artists, directed choirs and was a pre-show presenter for WASO.

Jill thrives on curating programmes and collaborating with other artists to perform new and lesser known works alongside standard repertoire favourites.

Louise Keast (Soprano)

Australian soprano Louise Keast joined the Opera Australia chorus and company in 2021. In 2023 Louise performed the role of First Page in Wagner’s opera Tannhaüser with Opera Australia and was a featured soloist in "Chorus!" at the Sydney Opera House. In October 2023 Louise will perform the role Monica (Menotti’s The Medium) with local company Operantics.

An associate artist with Melbourne Opera, Louise has performed the roles Wellgunde (Wagner’s Das Rheingold), Countess Almaviva (Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro) and Marzelline (Beethoven’s Fidelio) whilst a member of the Richard Divall Emerging Artists Programme. Her operatic experience also includes engagements with Victorian Opera, IOpera and Port Fairy Spring Music Festival.

An enthusiastic recitalist, Louise presented two recitals in Bayreuth, Germany, in 2022, whilst a principal artist in the Festival Junger Künstler Bayreuth. In 2023 she performed numerous recitals with Donna Balson, as well engagements with The Opera and Song Collective.

In 2023 Louise was a semi-finalist in the Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship. In previous years Louise has been a Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge Foundation scholarship recipient and represented Australia in 2019 at the final rounds of the 38th International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition in Villach, Austria.

Ian Warwick (Baritone)

Ian is a classically trained baritone, director, writer, and designer. He completed a Master of Music in Classical singing at the Australian Institute of Music in 2014. In 2017, he served as an associate director for Pacific Opera's young artist program. The following year, he interned with Opera Australia on their new production of "La Boheme". Presently, Ian studies classical singing under the guidance of renowned mezzo-soprano Deborah Humble.

Since its inception in 2015, Ian has been actively involved with the independent opera company Operantics, serving as a director, performer, designer, and writer. His contributions to Operantics encompass various productions including "Die Fledermaus" by Johann Strauss, "La Sonnambula" by Vincenzo Bellini, "The Telephone" by Gian Carlo Menotti (playing the role of Ben), "Mansfield Park" by Jonathan Dove (as Sir Thomas Bertram), and "Cosi fan tutte" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (portraying Don Alfonso).

Ian's credits extend beyond Operantics. He has assumed the role of George in "Sunday in the Park with George" by Sondheim, he was in the ensemble for Peter Flemming's "Noli Me Tangere" while also coordinating wardrobe, and collaborated with writer, director, filmmaker, and actor Michael Becker. Their joint endeavors include "Caught between the Sheets and Stage Lights" showcased at the Sydney Fringe in 2017, "How to Change the World and Make Bank Doing It" in 2018 and 2019, "Inner Weather" in 2019, and Jesse Eisenberg's "The Spoils" in 2020.

In his most recent work, He was also featured in the cabaret "Grotesque and Arabesque," centered around Edgar Allan Poe, at the Vanguard in 2021 Ian conceived, produced, and starred in "Make Believe," a tribute show honoring MGM stars Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel, presented at the 2022 Sydney Fringe with soprano Emily Turner and pianist Nathaniel Kong. Furthermore, Ian was a guest soloist for the 2022 Christmas celebrations and the Sydney Eisteddfod Choral championships held at Sydney Town Hall. Ian is also studying millinery at Enmore Tafe under Penelope Gervaise.

Natalia Melnik (Soprano, Russian lyric diction coach)

Natalia was born in Moscow, Russia and moved to Sydney in 2013. At the age of five, she started her musical education at a primary music school. At thirteen, she was granted a place in a children’s concert choir “Cantilena”. Two years later became the choir soloist, performing in numerous concerts and touring in Russia and Europe. Later Natalia continued her studies at Valentina Levko’s Center of Vocal Art in Moscow, singing at the Center’s concerts and other events. Natalia is currently conducting her doctorate research at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

Natalia sings in numerous recitals throughout the year, specializing in coloratura arias as well as Russian music. Her engagements include Lunchtime concerts at St.Stephen's Uniting Church, recitals at Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Glebe Justice Center and Australian Hall. In December 2016, Natalia performed with the Sutherland Shire Symphony Orchestra in their Christmas concert. In 2017-2019 Natalia sang the role of Valeria in the production of Alessandro Scarlatti’s opera “La Caduta De’ Decemviri”, the role of Marcella in “Boheme a piacere”, the role of Princess Tamara in the play “Demon” staged by Rustem Galitch. In October 2019, Natalia performed the title role of Clara Schumann in the “Happy Birthday, Clara!” concert program. In 2021 Natalia created a special St Valentine’s Day concert program, “Love Songs”, and performed it in collaboration with pianist Benjamin Burton at the Australian Institute of Music and online. In 2022, in collaboration with pianist Eun-Jung Byun, Natalia performed and recorded her “Made in Heaven” concert program; these recordings will be released on Spotify, Apple Music and other streaming platforms during 2023.

Benjamin Burton (Piano)

Benjamin Burton is a talented young pianist with a passion for accompanying vocal and instrumental performances. In his role as accompanist, Ben has performed all over the country, and has worked for Opera Australia, Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the Australian Institute of Music, while also working as a freelance accompanist. Highlights over the last couple of years have included recording with the ABC (appearing on the CD Ballads of a Pleasant Life with Peter Coleman-Wright and the Nexas Quartet), performing with Moorambilla Voices for the Royal Visit to Dubbo, and giving recitals with Daniela Leska at Sydney Town Hall and the Polish Embassy. Ben was awarded 1st Prize in the 2017 Sydney Song Prize, and 2nd Best Pianist in the 2016 MIETTA National Art Song Competition.

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