Conversations with Artistic Director, Tania Frazer

We sat down with Tania to ask about her thoughts on being Artistic Director of SXS, Konstantin's residency with SXS and the upcoming Fireworks and Fury concert.

Photography by Darren Thomas


What excites you about being the Artistic Director of Southern Cross Soloists?


The top answer, without a doubt, is the opportunity to perform on stage alongside such an inspiring team of world class musicians as my colleagues.


I also love meeting the members of our audiences – it’s both incredibly rewarding and equally fascinating to get to know them all personally as they come from so many different and interesting walks of life.


But most surprisingly, I really enjoy the research side of my job. I love exploring and discovering new repertoire and different music genres, particularly repertoire that is not played on my instrument (oboe). For example, I spend much more time researching string quartet, piano, vocal and world music repertoire than oboe music these days. And it’s fascinating.


I particularly love researching other musical genres and scouring the internet for new and different music styles and performances. Over the Xmas holidays, I just did a massive deep dive into Russian Gypsy music for our October 2022 concert that took me on the craziest investigation……it took me days and days, but eventually I found what I was looking for in the end!


So, I just love that my day job involves exploring all these unique things that I would never have done had I just been an oboe player.


About the first concert, what is so special about it?

I can’t believe we are in 2022 already. I have to keep reminding myself which year we are in, particularly after the last two difficult.


Getting together again after so much isolation and border closures means so much to all of us in SXS. I think we appreciate the opportunity to perform with such a high-level group of master musicians more than ever after the last 24 months.


Konstantin Shamray begins his residency here at Southern Cross Soloists. Tell us about your experience working with him, and what to look forward to this year with him being on stage with you.


Having international concert pianist Konstantin Shamray this year as our 2022 Artist in Residence is brilliant.


Winning the Sydney International Piano Competition is a bit like winning the Olympics for the piano, so to have a past first prize winner and artist of this level living in Australia is so exciting. When Konstantin won Sydney in 2008, he also became the first winner in the history of the competition to take out both First Prize and the Peoples’ Choice Prize along with Six other Special Prizes. So, he really is in a special league as a piano soloist.


There’s a certain X-factor with a soloist of this level- something you can’t necessarily define in words, but there’s a certain indescribable aura and ambience of touch/sound that is just superb. Konstantin will be performing Prokofiev’s 3rd piano concerto that has echoes of Prokofiev’s incredible Romeo and Juliet ballet score. Prokofiev himself described the piece as 'devilishly difficult' and it has now taken the place as one of the best piano concertos ever written, with its driving, rhythmic, relentless nature.


Any final remarks to finish?


The entire QPAC 2022 season this year showcase the virtuosic abilities of all the musicians of SXS.


In our first concert, I’m very excited to perform a stunning counter tenor aria by German baroque composer Adolph Hasse that I have rearranged for the oboe. This aria has a similar style of drama, vocal fireworks and anguish that many of the famous ‘Farinelli’style’ arias had during this period, so it works beautifully on the oboe: gorgeous, complex and emotional.


We will also be performing Berlioz’s viola masterpiece, Harold in Italy. This piece means a lot to me as the first time I played it was with the mighty Israel Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta when I was 21. I’m really looking forward to playing this with our superb viola soloist, James Wannan.


Likewise, I can’t wait to play alongside our wonderful clarinet soloist, Ashley Smith after not seeing him for two years because of the border situation. Ashley is performing the Weber Clarinet Concerto No 1, which will be a real treat and one of the most important and virtuosic clarinet masterworks in the repertoire.


And finally, we are kicking of our new initiative, the SXS Didgeridoo Commissioning Project, with the World Premiere of a new work for Didgeridoo and SXS by Sean O’Boyle AO inspired by the Glasshouse Mountains and performed by Wakka Wakka digeridoo soloist Chris Williams.




Fireworks and Fury

20th February 2022 3pm

QPAC Concert Hall



Fireworks and Fury presents a scintillating program of brilliance and colour that opens with the dramatically anguished aria “Mea tormenta, properate” by Johann Adolf Hasse transcribed for oboe. Southern Cross Soloist (SXS) welcome back clarinet soloist, Ashley Smith in the stormy and dazzling clarinet concerto by Carl Maria Von Weber, and SXS viola soloist, James Wannan in Berlioz’s viola masterpiece Harold in Italy that was commissioned by the master virtuoso, Paganini. The concert features the world premiere of a new work by Brisbane/UK/USA composer, Sean O'Boyle AM – the first of our 2022 SXS Didgeridoo Commissioning Project, featuring Wakka Wakka digeridoo soloist Chris Williams.


PROGRAM


Hasse Aria: Mea tormenta, properate!

Weber Clarinet Concerto No 1 in F minor, Op. 73

Berlioz Harold in Italy

Movement 1: Harold in the Mountains

O'Boyle 'Beerwah' The Mother of the Glasshouse Mountains*

Prokofiev Piano Concerto No 3 in C Major, Op. 26


* World Premiere as part of the SXS Digeridoo Commissioning Project