09 April 2014

Hobart Baroque

Julia Lezhneva
Federation Concert Hall, Hobart
Sunday 30 March 2014

Leo Schofield is both inspired and lucky – or a brilliant manager.

He signed up the very young Russian soprano for the Hobart Baroque Festival of which he is director, more or less sight unseen. About two weeks before her Hobart concert she sang in the superb acoustics of Elizabeth Murdoch Hall in Melbourne and that concert was broadcast a day or so later by ABC FM. A sound bite of her voice was used to promote that broadcast. It was heard by a national radio audience and an international audience on-line. A few days later she was interviewed by Margaret Throsby of ABC FM. In a flash the brilliant Mr Schofield had a brilliant international promo for his festival.

Ten days prior is not enough time to get people to get to an interstate festival? Not a bit. We, wife and I, have been known to book ourselves into a concert tour of North America at ten days’ notice. The bloke organising it went a bit pale over the phone but he managed it.

We cut it a bit finer to hear Ms Lezhneva – a week. But it was worth the scramble.

The Festival, for us, was six days of concerts – one a night with the odd lecture and a superb tour of Bruny Island (see below). Every concert was an absolute winner, but Julia was an absolute stand-out. She worth every bit of the standing ovations she was given.

It wasn’t just her young-woman charm, her simple but striking dresses or the highly polished Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, it was her voice and her ability to use it. She chose pretty much standard baroque repertoire but every piece fitted her voice perfectly. She resisted what was almost certainly the temptation to hit an octave above rather than the octave below. She didn’t need to. She has a superlative voice. It is rich in her lower register and bright and perfectly secure in its upper notes. She sang the typical coloratura-style runs typical of Handel et al without the slightest tension that she would not hit every note in the middle.

Leo Schofied, Julia Lezhnevaand, Mikhail Antonenko, her manager-pianist and Jarrod Cartland

It was a simple case of, ‘sit back while I sing you some incredibly beautiful music and don’t even think about me not doing so with total assurance’.

Leo told me that when he found a wombat for her and her boyfriend to cuddle they behaved like kids.

Now, Leo, what’s your trick for next year?

Image reposted from:
The Culture Concept Circle,


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