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Friday, 23rd January 2015

Image: Trio Leonardo, Cohuna Town Hall, MRIMF 2014.  Credit: Kerry Thompson

Classical music along the Murray River

The Murray River International Music Festival will take to the road next week, bringing virtuoso international musicians to unique rural locations along the Murray until 7 February 2015.

Following a week of evening performances across Sunraysia, and musical delights by Italian musicians Trio Sine Nomine in Ouyen and Broken Hill, the festival will follow the Murray River visiting Swan Hill, Cohuna and Shepparton.

On Friday, 30th January, Artistic Director Sergio de Pieri will travel to Swan Hill to meet with Stefan Cassomenos, one of Australia’s most vibrant and versatile musicians.  Stefan has performed internationally since the age of 10, premiering in his first piano concerto with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra at the age of 16.  Currently living in Melbourne, he is the founding member of contemporary chamber ensemble PLEXUS which has commissioned over 60 composers and in 2014 premiered 20 new works.  Stefan will perform from 11.00am at the Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery.  This unique gallery originated in the 60’s on a local paddle steamer before the community sought funding to create a permanent structure designed to resemble an Australian woolshed built from local red gum timber and handmade mud bricks.  Morning tea will be available from Spoons Restaurant across the road from 10.00am.

Sergio will then travel to Cohuna for an evening performance with acclaimed classical musicians visiting from Italy.  Celebrating its tenth year in Cohuna, the festival was brought to the town by Sergio and his brother Stefano de Pieri, planting a seed for the community to be involved in the prestigious event.  Local volunteers Denise Morrison and Di Peace have been organising the event ever since. Audiences have enjoyed some very special international artists over the years in some very unusual settings, the most memorable being out in the Gunbower Forest under the redgum trees.  This year, classical guitarist Massimo Scattolin and flautist Roberto Fabbriciani will appear at the Cohuna Memorial Hall at 7.30pm, tickets are available at the door for $10.  Early dinner meals and post-concert coffee and cake will be available at the Bower Tavern. 

The roadshow will conclude in Shepparton on Saturday, 7th February with a performance at The Connection from 6.30pm accompanied by a three course Italian dinner for $45.  This event was a sell out last year and is expected to be the same in 2015 where Massimo Scattolin has a following.  Accompanying him will be Sergio Ercole. Head of Guitar at Haileybury College in Melbourne, Sergio was born in Florence and regularly collaborates with Australian artists such as The Cat Empire and The Grigoryan Brothers.

The full program can be seen on the Arts Mildura website and tickets can be purchased directly from performance venues both prior to the event and at the door.

Wednesday, 21st January 2015

Image: Rosemary Hodgson

Lutenist in Wentworth

Wentworth Arts is thrilled to host lutenist Rosemary Hodgson in the township of Wentworth on Friday, 23rd January 2015, in conjunction with Arts Mildura as part of the Murray River International Music Festival.

Described by the UK Lute Society Journal as the lute world's “new star”, Rosemary Hodgson is well known to her Melbourne hometown audience and maintains a vibrant career as one of Australia's leading lutenists.

For those who may not be familiar with a lute, it is a string instrument with a neck, similar to the shape of a guitar but with a deep round back.  It descends from the Medieval to the late Baroque eras and was the most important instrument for secular music in the Renaissance. 

Specialising in the performance of historic guitars and lutes, Rosemary is regularly engaged in major festivals, recordings and concert series throughout Australia and abroad.

Rosemary has enjoyed performing with a wide variety of Australian orchestras.  She was the first lutenist to play a solo recital in the new Elizabeth Murdoch Hall in Melbourne and she features in the Melbourne Recital Centre Series 2015 with La Compania for their sixth season.

The historic Wentworth Town Hall, originally built in 1884 as a Mechanics Institute, will open its doors on Friday evening at 7.30pm for an 8.00 – 9.00pm concert.  Tickets are available for $25 from Arts Mildura, 41 Deakin Avenue.

Guests are invited to book a table from 6.00pm for a tasty pre-concert dinner at Artback Gallery/Café, just walking distance from the Town Hall, or to enjoy post-concert coffee and cake.

Monday, 19th January 2015

Image: Davide Monti teaching a masterclass, MRIMF 2014. Credit: Paul Lambeth

International musicians to teach students in Mildura

The annual Murray River International Music Festival masterclasses will take place from Thursday 22nd – Monday 26th January 2015 in Mildura, giving musical students the opportunity to acquire top tips and knowledge from internationally acclaimed musicians.

In its twelfth year, the Murray River International Music Festival has been bringing classical musicians of high calibre to Mildura each Summer, with varied performance backgrounds spanning across the globe and a multitude of studies and experiences in their wake.

The visiting musicians gladly make themselves available during their stay in Mildura, to teach masterclasses to students of all ages and levels at a very affordable price of $30.  For school students, this is a great kick start to the school year and a useful way to fill in the school holiday period.

“The acclaimed musicians and performers who run the workshops are incredible in what they do, and these classes are a fantastic way to experience that first hand.”  Caitlin MacGregor, Viola student, Mildura Senior College (2014)

Instruments vary depending on the musicians performing and this year will include piano (jazz and classical), guitar, violin, oboe and flute.  Additional instruments can also be included in the masterclasses.  The masterclasses will be held at the ADFA Buliding and the Mildura Arts Centre, with only ten places available per class.

The full list of masterclasses can be seen on the Arts Mildura website and bookings can be made on 03 5022 9542 or

Friday, 16th January 2015

Credit: Rohan Morris 2015

Opening Night at Ampelon Gardens

The Murray River International Music Festival will hold its official opening on Tuesday, 20th January in the enchanting Ampelon Gardens, Gol Gol NSW.

“Beautiful music in beautiful locations” is the tag line that evokes memories of the Murray River International Music Festival in the minds of many and is the epitome of the Opening Night at Ampelon Gardens.  Patrons experience an unforgettable evening where they are transported from the banks of the Murray River to Venice, Paris and Prague by some of the finest internationally renowned virtuosic classical musicians.

Artistic Director Sergio de Pieri discovered Ampelon Gardens over a decade ago when he was staying with his brother Stefano at their home in Gol Gol and they went for a morning walk.  He saw the potential for performances, with the perfectly cut shape of the lawn which doubles as a stage in the pond, the manicured flora surrounding the garden and the sound of the crickets and frogs in the background.

"You take something to eat... sit down in the garden ..the birds... and the moon comes slowly.. and the music starts. What you want better than this? Everybody likes it.. all the artists like to perform here, they say it’s the best theatre in the world." Sergio de Pieri, MRIMF Artistic Director speaks of Ampelon Gardens.

This year, Act I will be performed by Massimo Scattolin, international classical guitarist and good friend of Sergio’s.  Massimo has been performing at the festival for ten years and has found inspiration for a lot of his music composition from the Murray Darling region.

“.. For instance in Gol Gol a few years ago I listened to a bird with a really special song that I arranged for guitar and now I’ve arranged it for guitar and orchestra.  I understood that the nature here is completely different and it gave me a lot of energy…  Ampelon is fantastic.. it’s magic because the frogs start to sing really loud.. we take advantage of the microphones to have a sort of dialogue with the frogs, it’s unbelievable.”  Massimo Scattolin

Act II will be performed by The Sunraysia Quartet, made up of violin, viola and cello and lead by Blair Harris from Syzygy who has performed and workshopped with students in Mildura at a number of Arts Mildura festivals.

Guests can arrive as early as 6.00pm to enjoy a picnic in the gardens prior to the performance commencing at 8.30pm.  Tickets are now on sale from the Arts Mildura office or online at

Wednesday, 14th January 2015

Image: Allan Zavod

Pioneer composer of Classical-Jazz Fusion in Mildura

With a history of performing with the likes of Frank Zappa, the Glenn Miller Orchestra and Australian multi-instrumentalist James Morrison as well as creating compositions for the Dalai Lama, the Australian Prime Minister and even Royalty, Allan Zavod’s unique combination of jazz and classical music will delight audiences in Mildura during the Murray River International Music Festival on Wednesday, 21st January 2015.

Australian born, pianist Dr Allan Zavod DMUS (Melb) has been voted into a number of top positions including "Top Ten US Jazz Pianists", 31st place in the “Top 150 Greatest Keyboard Players of Rock” and “Top 100 Best Keyboardists of all time”, placing him in the distinguished company of Sir Elton John, Billy Joel and Stevie Wonder.

As a pioneer composer of “Classical-Jazz Fusion” Zavod has written large works globally for symphony orchestras including the Louisiana Philharmonic, the Munich Radio Orchestra, the Asian Broadcasting Union Orchestra and the Sydney and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras.  Zavod toured with Sting on his Australian concert tour, and some years ago collaborated with friend and comedian, the late Robin Williams, appearing regularly at the celebrated LA comedy store on Sunset Blvd.  His five movement composition “Environmental Symphony for Orchestra, Narrator and Synchronized Visuals” has been performed at the prestigious Banksia Awards, narrated by Sir Richard Branson and written by Dr Alan Finkel, Chancellor of Monash University.

As a film composer Zavod has scored over 35 films including one with Eric Clapton, one for Walt Disney and an award winning film for Scott Hicks, director of “Shine”.  In addition to performing for Royalty, foreign dignitaries and heads of state have always formed part of Zavod’s illustrious career.

Having completed his Bachelor of Music degree at Melbourne University, Zavod has since taught an elective there on the subject of Classical-Jazz Fusion.  He initiated "The Zavod Classical/Jazz Fusion Composers Award" and in 2008 was awarded the Doctor of Music, designed to give formal public recognition to eminent scholars who have made substantial, original and distinguished international contribution to Music Knowledge. Zavod also administered “The Zavod Classical-Jazz Fusion Performers Award” at Monash University through benefactor the late Dame Elisabeth Murdock.

Allan Zavod will perform A Spectacular Evening with Gershwin and Friends from 7.30pm on Wednesday, 21st January at the ADFA Building, along with David “Stix” Hicks on drums and Philip Rex on bass.  The evening will feature a repertoire of celebrated songs by Gershwin and other famous composers of the Great American Songbook including Irving Berlin, Cole Porter Rogers, Hammerstein and more.

Tickets are available for $25 from the Arts Mildura office, 41 Deakin Avenue or online

Monday, 12th January 2015

Image: Trio Sine Nomine

Acclaimed international trio visit Sunraysia

Trio Sine Nomine will touch down in Sunraysia on Monday 19th January 2015 for three scintillating performances on oboe, violin and harpsichord as part of the Murray River International Music Festival 2015.

Journeying from Central America, Italy the UK, the Trio’s sonata is an Italian born musical form, similar to that of the Italian concerti or to the Violin Sonatas.

Born in Guatemala, Claudia Lopez studied violin in country and in Belgium.  She has played for numerous orchestras and at festivals throughout Europe and South America and currently resides in Rome where she performs freelance with various groups.

Originating from Venice, Gianfranco Bortolato is a prize winning performer, who commenced study of the oboe from the age of eleven.  He has performed extensively as an oboe soloist throughout the Americas, Eastern Europe, Australia, the Middle East and across Africa.

In 2003, Michele Benuzzi won third prize at the Yamanashi International Harpsichord Competition in Japan.  He performs in major festivals in Europe and Asia and founded Arcomelo, a group performing seventeenth and eighteenth-century music, and examining baroque music.

“It is always a great pleasure to come back to play in Australia in general and in Mildura in particular. It is the third time for us and every time we try to think of a different programme to present that can be very interesting for the audience.  For this year’s festival we focus on Bach and we will perform the Trio Sonata that is clearly written in Italian Style.”  Michele Benuzzi, Trio Sine Nomine.

The Trio will perform in some iconic locations, commencing on 19th January at the Roxy Theatre in Ouyen, a tropical theatre restored by passionate community volunteers.  On 22nd January a special menu will be prepared by celebrity chef Stefano de Pieri at the Mildura Brewery, followed by a performance by the Trio in the ADFA Building, previously owned by the Australian Dried Fruits Association.  On 24th January the Trio will travel to perform for audiences in the oldest regional gallery in NSW, Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery.

Thursday, 18th December 2014

Image: Sergio de Pieri, MRIMF 2014.  Credit: Paul Lambeth

A Piano Recital by Sergio de Pieri

In anticipation of the Murray River International Music Festival, 19-30 January 2015, Artistic Director Sergio de Pieri will perform a piano recital for one night only, on Monday 5 January 2015 at the ADFA Building, Mildura.

Each year Mr de Pieri, awarded an OAM for his contribution to music, embarks on his annual pilgrimage to Mildura bringing with him virtuosi from Italy and other parts of the world to perform during the festival.  Commencing in 2003, the festival’s success is attributed to the hard work and passion that Mr de Pieri brings to regional Victoria and NSW each year.

“You take something to eat, sit down in the garden, hear the birds… see the moon come up slowly, then the music starts.  What do you want that’s better than this? Come into the concert and hear something beautiful.  It’s an experience.  And when the people come, they come again. And that is the most beautiful thing.”  Sergio de Pieri, speaking of the annual Opening Night event in Ampelon Gardens.

Mr de Pieri, a talented pianist and organ player since the age of 17, has performed at hundreds of concerts and recitals around the world, a special highlight included performing for the Queen of England.

As a fundraiser to support the festival in 2015, Mr de Pieri will perform a piano recital on Monday 5 January, in the ADFA Building on Deakin Avenue, commencing at 7.00pm. Tickets can be purchased at the door from 6.00pm at $20, students welcome to attend at no cost.  The repertoire for the evening will include classic pieces from Bach, Chopin and Schubert.  All proceeds will go directly to the festival.

For further information on this event, or the Murray River International Music Festival, please contact the Arts Mildura office, 41 Deakin Avenue or visit the website

Wednesday, 17th December 2014

Image: Trio Leonardo, Opening NIght, Ampelon Gardens 2014.  Credit: Russell P Murphy

Murray River International Music Festival 2015

The Murray River International Music Festival will celebrate mid-summer with ‘beautiful music in beautiful locations’ throughout Sunraysia and along the Murray River, 19 – 30 January 2015.

Now in its twelfth year, the festival brings world renowned musicians from Europe and Australia to stunning regional settings across inland Victoria and New South Wales.  The program is artistically directed by Sergio de Pieri OAM (Italy) and grandson Domenico de Pieri (Melbourne).

Given the daily struggles that Australian farmers and growers have faced in recent years such as drought, low commodity prices and most recently bush fires in Ouyen during the 2014 festival, the committee aims to continue bringing unique experiences at affordable prices to isolated communities. 

The opening night, traditionally held outdoors at Ampelon Gardens, provides an atmosphere where one can appreciate the quality music, forget the stresses of everyday life and for a short time, feel transcended. 

A small snippet from the feedback received from an attendee at the Cohuna performance in 2014. “Depth, complexity, pleasure all completely mesmerised the musical philistine that I am.  Thank you for continuing to take responsibility for an event that provides such a contrast in my life and reminds me that even an hour can make such a difference.”

The program for 2015 includes a mixture of new artists and venues, alongside old favourites.  Highlights include:

• Opening Night in the stunning Ampelon Gardens featuring Italian classical guitarist Massimo Scattolin, followed by The Sunraysia Quartet from Melbourne on cello, viola and violin
• Rosemary Hodgson, one of Australia’s best solo lutenists performing for audiences in Wentworth
• Khalil Gudaz and Ensemble playing the Sitar, Talba and Tambura at the Midsummer Night’s Picnic located on the Old Mildura Homestead lawns

The full program and tickets are now available from the Arts Mildura office, 41 Deakin Avenue and online at

Media contact: Paul Lambeth – 03 5022 9542 –

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