Press Kit

Critical Acclaim                    

Of Love l Peninsula Summer Music Festival

Earlier on Saturday afternoon, another facet of this festival's identity was on display. Soprano Merlyn Quaife and pianist Andrea Katz of Songmakers Australia offered a fascinating program of lieder and contemporary Australian art song, including a world premiere by Roger Heagney. This wasn't the typical scenario of new music being smuggled onto a classical program next to crowd-pleasers, but rather an intimate afternoon of musical storytelling, care of homegrown creativity and blue-sky programming.

Particularly of note, joined by the festival's director Benjamin Opie on oboe, a thrilling account of Margaret Sutherland's 1938 penned ‘The Orange Tree’ was a revelation; a true Australian masterwork that deserves many more outings.”

The Sydney Morning Herald - 7 January 2019. Reviewed by Maxim Boon

Russian Lullaby | Melbourne Recital Centre

"The most significant quality of this cycle’s rendition was its non-stop nature, the songs merging with chilling effectiveness and bite as their surfaces cracked to reveal a nightmare world where words cannot be taken at face value and an eminently singable, even popular-sounding music veers on collapse into a dirge...
And for those sad moral delinquents who think politics and music don’t mix, they should look on this wrenching song-cycle and (hopefully) despair. Songmakers Australia has informed my year significantly by presenting it and accomplishing the undertaking with admirable fidelity."

O'Connell the Music - 6 October 2017. Reviewed by Clive O’Connell

Viola Romance | Melbourne Recital Centre

"Founder of Songmakers Australia, pianist Andrea Katz contributed to each segment, beginning with the Berlioz setting of de Nerval's Le roi de Thule, mezzo Sally-Anne Russell outlining the seemingly simple vocal line with support from Brett Dean's well-defined viola. Each artist employed a kind of respectful determination in their collaboration, Katz taking the forefront at the right moment, Russell pouring out a powerful sequence of sentences...

Dean and Katz collaborated in a welcome reading of Schumann's Marchenbilder, four pieces illustrative of fairy tales but informed by an ardent romantic depth and realised with taut authority. This was particularly so in Dean's sustained lyrical arcs and technique-flashing brilliance, in the third D minor Rasch picture of Rumpelstiltskin. Just as telling was the trio's performance of the Two Songs Op. 91 of Brahms: poised in attack, balanced in ensemble and pronounced with confident solicitude, the Die ihr schwebetlullaby an experience you wished would go on and on."

The Age - 22 August 2014. Reviewed by Clive O’Connell


A Woman's Life & Love | Melbourne Recital Centre

"From the wrenching devotion of the opening to its postlude recapitulation at the cycle’s end, this sequence of marvellous vignettes enjoyed an insightful realisation, Quaife’s line eloquent and true with Katz’s keyboard part considered and supportive."

The Age - 10 May 2014. Reviewed by Clive O’Connell


A Rhine Journey | Art Gallery of NSW

"Katz and Russell make a devastating duo and I can't imagine any better way to take a headlong plunge into the Rhine, or walk along its banks. Thanks to a considered programme, this pair take us deep into the heart of German culture. It's as if they've built yet another castle, but one constructed with music, for us to regard with awe."   

Australian Stage - 10 October 2013. Reviewed by Lloyd Bradford


Pierrot Lunaire | Melbourne Festival

"...a fluid, comfortable reading of this demanding construct dominated by Quaife's mobile and authoritative realisation of the composer's half-spoken, half-sung vocal line. But what remains in the memory is a certainty of purpose to the exercise, the composer's voice realised with conviction yet without straining."

The Age - 26 October 2012. Reviewed by Clive O’Connell


The Seasons - The Argentinian Connection | Melbourne Recital Centre

"The night’s main interest came in bass-baritone Nicholas Dinopoulos, who surged through five numbers...This young singer impressed with his linguistic fluency in three Romance tongues and an unswerving conviction that carried his audience with him through the macho world that Piazzolla’s work inhabits."

The Age - 24 September 2012. Reviewed by Clive O’Connell.