Accompanists’ Festival 2016 – July 27-31


What a wonderful five days bursting with the energy and enthusiasm it was – generated by the anticipated and actual presence of Musician in Residence, Stephen Emmerson and his colleagues in the Endeavour Trio, Paul Dean (clarinet) and Trish O’Brien (cello).

Anticipated? Yes! Much was happening before the Festival.

Preparation for AGSA’s 2016 Festival began in March with Convenors organising participants, tutors and repertoire including as much emphasis as possible on the three Endeavour Trio instruments—Piano, Clarinet and Cello.

  • The JEMs (Primary School Junior Ensemble Musicians) working with Monika Laczofy and their teachers, began their formal project with a Masterclass on May 22 led by pianist and outstanding accompanist and AGSA member Jamie Cock . Their Festival Concert in Pilgrim Church on Wednesday July 27 was a joy and possibly the most advanced yet in the 12 years of JEM Festival performances. They all hopped in to the Festival Convenor’s special lunch and returned to the church for a beautiful concert “For JEMs” performed by Mark Sandon (another AGSA member who is also one of SA’S premier accompanists), Anna Coleman (clarinet) and Mason Stanton (cello). The program included the première of Sebastian Phlox’s Decadences – for the trio – the first of several new works performed during the Festival. AGSA continues to support the composition of new works for the collaborative piano.
  • YAS (Secondary School Young Accompanists’ Showcase) working with Gina Macri and professional soloists, began the formal side of their project on June 19 with a masterclass led by AGSA Council member Penelope Cashman (another of SA’s outstanding accompanists). The eight students were privileged to rehearse and perform with professional soloists Lachlan Bramble (violin), Sherri Handley (cello), Samantha Hennessy (flute) and Charise Penrose (clarinet). In their final performance during the Conference on July 30 the Endeavour Trio members were extremely impressed with the project and the performances so much so that Paul Dean (clarinet, composer and former Head of the Australian National Academy of Music) was moved to tears.
  • Accompanists Guild Composition Award was offered for the second time (the first in 2014 for 2 pianos and percussion). It was a pleasure to organise this given the immediate enthusiasm of the Endeavour Trio (both Stephen and Paul are recognised composers and all Endeavour Trio members have jointly and separately premiered dozens of new works). At no cost to the Guild applications were reviewed by pianist/composer, Diana Weekes, and composer, David Harris, and two were forwarded to the Trio to decide which one would be rehearsed at the Conference and performed in the Elder Hall Recital. The Trio generously agreed to do both! Rachel Bruerville’s A Chanter M’er and Thomas Devereaux’ The Lights of Ibrahim received their world premières on July 31. As well as a modest cash prize donated by a Council member, the composers each received a 5MBS recording of the recital.
  • The usual Geoffrey Parsons Award (GPA) was not offered in 2016. Because of the drain on AGSA finances, the loss of former much appreciated support from the RCS, the lack of support for competitions from funding bodies such as the OZ Council and Arts SA as well as the perceived reduction in local applicants, the Council decided to offer this Award in alternate years breaking a tradition established in 1984 and offered every year since except 1988 (flu epidemic) and 2002 (disrupted by FSSOM closure). Many winners have joined the ranks of professional accompanists. Currently a specially convened Council subcommittee is establishing some changes in order to offer it again in 2017. Changes already decided include: 1) audition by online application with video to avoid interstate applicants having to be in Adelaide a week before the Final and 2) offering one only cash prize of $6000 ( reducing expenditure by $1500 and making sure it is still the most valuable Award in Australia for the collaborative pianist). The 2017 GPA will be separate from the Festival and probably during the weekend of September 9/10.



Friday 29
Began at 5pm within an hour of the arrival of all the Endeavour Trio Members with:

  • Lessons were given by all 3 performers. Using 2 areas with pianos in my home (unfortunately not enough room except for the performers, their teachers and families and the assisting AGSA Council members) – for two hours Stephen and Trish worked in tandem with cello and piano students in one room and Paul worked in another with clarinettists, their accompanists and composers. A dozen performers and composers reaped the benefits of their guidance while a further dozen enjoyed observing. A noisy evening meal rounded off a great opportunity for everyone to meet and talk (over the top) with these infinitely approachable performers and educators (Stephen /Qld Con, Paul/ ANAM now Qld Con and Trish/ Coffs Harbour Con)

Saturday 30

  • The Conference held at Marryatville HS – many thanks to AGSA Council member Leonie Hempton and MHS Head of Music, Aldis Sils, for organising the venue gratis ( We invited MHS participants to attend the conference free and provided tickets to the Endeavour Recital for a group of MHS staff & students – a mere gesture considering the value of the venue to AGSA)
    • The Conference presentations provided a wealth of information, guidance, ideas and demonstrations for the benefit not only of the many pianists attending (age range probably 15 to 80) but also for musicians and teachers other than pianists. The following comments give only a miniscule idea of the depth of the content:
      – Stephen Emmerson’s advice (given in a rather fatherly, benevolent manner) advised that in choosing chamber music associates the most important aspect was that you all enjoyed being together as musicians and people
      – Rachel Bruerville’s reaction to the rehearsal and performance of her winning composition … “thank you (Endeavour Trio) so much for the incredible work you did over the Accompanists’ Guild conference weekend. It was incredible to meet you all and have some very meaningful, albeit brief, conversations! You are all absolutely fantastic people and musicians.”
      – Anna Goldsworthy gave in words and with particular reference to the “Spring “. She spoke real “musician talk” … (style, form, harmony, rhythm, Beethoven’s interaction on the score and player interaction in performance). How lucky the Con is to have her heading Chamber Music.
      – Duo masterclasses – run concurrently in the Choir Room and the Stables saw Stephen Emmerson hot footing it up and down the stairs between the 2 classes to support the 4 advanced Con pianists in performances with 2 cellists and 2 clarinettists.
      – Lunch (overseen by Council member Koula Raptis with assistance from AGSA Council and Members) was as noisy as it gets – much excited babble as delegates and presenters swapped observations and opinions on the morning’s events. A plus for me – I WON the Early Bird incentive – a double pass donated by the ASO to the Zukerman Trio recital in November. What a delightful prize and I rarely win things like this.
      – The YAS post lunch concert was possibly the best ever. The works were all highly demanding expecting much from the young pianists … Dvorak/violin, Mendelssohn/cello, Saint-Saens/clarinet, Brumby/flute, Kreisler/violin, Schumann/cello, Poulenc/clarinet, Elgar/violin and finishing with Kroll’s rather ridiculous but totally enjoyably Banjo and Fiddle/violin.
      – The brief Panel on teaching Chamber music covered the range from primary level ( a passionate overview of what happens at St Andrew’s School by their Director of Music Anna Coppens) to the plan at Marryatville HS which concentrates more on solo performance from Leonie Hempton to working at the tertiary level from Stephen and Paul and finally from Trish a fascinating look into involving the community at the Coffs Harbour Regional Conservatorium in a program dubbed “The Academy”—giving young advanced musicians in the Coffs area the opportunity to experience the expectations and joys of chamber music before they reach tertiary level.
      – The Conference concluded with the Endeavour Trio tutoring the trio which performed FOR the JEMS. Mark Sandon, Anna Coleman and Mason Stanton received the most intensive tutoring possible – working simultaneously a tutor each who DEMANDED greater effort, greater finesse, greater commitment to each other and the music. The applause said it all – an exhilarating conclusion to a fascinating day devoted to the Piano in Chamber Music.

Saturday not over yet

  • The Dinner at 6.30 was so popular it was booked out before initial publicity was distributed (by Council members and covering Festival guest artists and presenters). Limited to 22 guests we spent a delightful evening together at the Rising Sun mostly discussing the many aspects of collaborative music making—the joy of everyone there. Mindful that our guests had a big day on Sunday we finished quite early. We might need to consider a bigger venue for the 2017 Festival dinner as many willing to pay the $70 which helped pay for the guests missed out—my apologies to them.

Sunday 31

  • Elder Hall rehearsals and the Endeavour Recital
  • The day began for the 3 artists with the essential REAL coffee at Cibos in Norwood. They are avid coffee buffs and needed at least one to start each day. Then in to Elder Hall for the essential rehearsal. The Trio had performed much of the program the night before in Brisbane so the major focus was on ensuring the Bruerville and Devereux prize winning compositions were thoroughly rehearsed. It was a pleasure for me to be called in to check balance in Elder Hall for the trio items. Duos balance they looked after themselves. Performers need lunch so after the sound check we headed for the Art Gallery restaurant for an excellent lunch ( Two of the Trio were vegetarians – the menu covered all needs)
  • The Recital—provided a stunning display of fabulous chamber music performances in duo and trio and included the following works –
    – Beethoven Trio Opus 11 in Bb
    – Debussy Sonata for Cello and Piano
    – Paul Dean Trio Traversing the Passages of Time
    – Schumann Fantasy Pieces for clarinet and piano
    – Rachel Bruerville A Chantar M’er – première
    – Thomas Devereux The Lights of Ibrahim – première
    – Brahms Clarinet Trio Opus 114 in a minor
    – I leave it to Rodney Smith’s review to cover. It was in print early the following week – a record for the Advertiser …

Endeavour Trio of Delightful Harmonies

THIS wasn’t your average chamber music concert. It wrapped up a number of events over past days comprising the 2016 Accompanists’ Festival and was designed to show The Piano in Chamber Music. Clearly the organisers see accompanist as a catch-all term for various sorts of work pianists find themselves doing and Endeavour Trio pianist Stephen Emmerson was certainly exceedingly busy in every item.To some extent the daunting program length was ameliorated by a wide variety of works, demonstrating various permutations involving a trio pianist. Perhaps most memorable were the two bookend compositions, Beethoven’s cheeky Piano Trio Op 11 and Brahms’ lofty Trio Op 114. The Endeavour’s other members,clarinetist Paul Dean and cellist Trish O’Brien were wholly at one with Emmerson in emphasising tonal beauty and control in both pieces. Their cumulatively extensive performance experience and mutual empathy certainly paid handsomely during the Brahms in which the Autumnal flavour of his final style pervaded every note. The Endeavour’s tonal palette was also particularly suited with depth, richness and sensitivity overarching characteristics.The promotion of two awards for emerging composers Rachel Bruerville and Thomas Devereux seemed another unexpected but welcome departure for accompanists, and Endeavour’s premiere of A Chantar M’er and The Lights of Ibrahim confirmed these talented young musicians have plenty to say. Dean’s own recently written Trio was light years away, however, with its raw energy and plangent harmonies leaving us breathless.

Rodney Smith, The Advertiser, August 3, 2016


Monday August 1
The Trio departures began at the crack of dawn on Monday August 1st. They had been with us for just over 2 days and their impact was enormous. They were full of praise for what the Guild is doing in South Australia and hoped to incorporate some of our projects in their own education programs.

Over 60 attended the Conference (delegates, performers, presenters and some individuals at single sessions). Financially Total Expenditure came in under budget at $13,550. Support came from a range of sources including:

  • $3200 grant from Arts SA in support of our Musician in Residence, Stephen Emmerson.
  • $5000 box office ( concerts , delegate fees, part AGSA subscriptions)
  • $3500 sponsorships ( from the grandparent of a 2015 YAS student and from 2 AGSA Council members)
  • $1850 fund raising dinner and raffles

Please note that:

  • without the generosity of AGSA Council and AGSA members, presenting the 2016 Accompanists’ Festival would have been financially unworkable. AGSA Festival performer, Mark Sandon, and conference presenter, Leonie Hempton, donated their services. Some catering, incidental printing and postage and all of the accommodation, meals and local transport for the Endeavour Trio were provided by Councillors at no cost to the Guild.
  • Excluding the Geoffrey Parsons Award meant the budget was $7,500 less than previously.

Accompanists’ Festival 2017
On The Role of the Accompanist in the Choir/Vocal Ensemble is being finalised right now and is in the capable hands of Head of Music at St Peter’s Cathedral and AGSA Councillor, Leonie Hempton, who has just returned from a tour of Japan with Marryatville HS choristers. Starting with Pilgrim Church concerts involving the JEMs on Wednesday, August 2 the Conference, Workshops and Recital are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday August 5 and 6 in Cynthia Poulton Hall Saturday and Elder Hall Sunday. Save the dates. Further information will reach you soon.

Diana Harris OAM