Thoroughbass in The Birch Tree: Shaun, Angus, Lucy, Jo, Diana. Photo by Shaun Ng

Thoroughbass is an early music ensemble whose members play period instruments, but who have trouble staying in the past. Established in 2009 by director and harpsichordist Diana Weston, we love to perform contemporary music as much as old - giving new sounds to music of the present and recent past, while staying true to our early music background. The result is varied, innovative and original programming that dares to step outside the expected square.

We now have a number of recordings to our credit, all available from the website. In addition, Diana’s interest in poetry and art has resulted in some gorgeous productions – a toddler’s introduction to music with Magpie Baby Book and CD and a soon-to-be-released ebook Backyard Friends.

For Reviews to many of our concerts click here 

Concerts 2018

Three individual and very different programs are on the agenda for 2018

Semele

Soloist for Elizabeth Jacquet de la Guerre’s cantata Semele is soprano Anna Fraser, much-valued and long-time member of The Song Co. as well as Thoroughbass.  The myth tells of the fiery destruction of Semele, loved by Zeus, but unable to resist challenging the truth of his godly nature. Trio Sonatas by Rebel and Marais, performed by Stephen Freeman (violin), Shaun Warden (violin), and Shaun Ng (viola da gamba), round out this all-French program.

Latino Love Affair

A mix of contemporary and early music, with Latin overtones. Now a regular visitor to Australia, Michael Tsalka returns for another season performing concerti, duos and solos by composers from round the world – Toia, Piazzolla, Escande, A. Scarlatti, JS Bach and many others, Support on the ground comes from Thoroughbass’ violinists Shaun Warden and Shaun Ng, viola player Tara Hashambuoy, cellists Lucy Cormack and Angus Ryan, and harpsichordist Diana Weston.

Bach’s Gamba Sonatas

Shaun Ng’s combination of nuance and virtuosity in his performances for Thoroughbass is highly appreciated by all and sundry. With harpsichordist Diana Weston he explores the complexities and intricacies of Bach’s three sonatas for gamba and harpsichord, a big undertaking but one he relishes. Undoubtedly, with these and the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue for harpsichord, Bach takes polyphony to a whole new level.

Past History Highlights

2017 Making the recording Lady Huang's Album with Michael Tsalka

2016 With international keyboardist Michael Tsalka, a regional tour of NSW showcasing music for 2 harpsichords. Later in the year, at the Geelvinck Fortepiano Festival in The Netherlands directed by Michael, Diana performed as soloist in a concert entitled The Laughing Kookaburra; and with Michael in concerts for multiple historic keyboards.

Thoroughbass has undertaken a number of major projects in collaboration Inara Molinari as Ondine Productions:

2012 A fully staged opera - Francesca Caccini’s La Liberazione di Ruggiero d’all isola d’Alcina

2013 A scented opera, semi-staged. Scenes from Philip Glass’ opera Akhnaten

2014  Britten’s long cantata Phaedra/Gorecki’s Concerto for Harpsichord and Strings

From 2009 - 2017 Thoroughbass presented many concerts in association with St Luke's Mosman Concert Series. Programming themes included:

*An exploration over the course of 5 concerts of some of Handel's less performed works (his early cantatas), through comparisons of national style (2009).

*A focus on female baroque composers (2013)

*Benedetto Marcello's rarely performed oratorio Il pianto e il riso delle quattro stagioni, in collaboration with members of The Song Company.

 

Commissions and gifts of new work

*Nadje Noordhuis for Magpie Baby: A Childhood Suite (commissioned by Diana Weston, 2012/13)

*Isabel Doraisamy for front cover of Blue Skies, Magpies and Goldfish (commissioned by Diana Weston 2013), for artwork for Akhnaten (2013) and artwork for Cock Crow (2016)

*Kymba Burrows for illustrations for Magpie Baby book (commissioned by Diana Weston, 2013/14)

*Ann Carr-Boyd for Flying West (gifted by the composer, 2013/14)

*Elena Kats-Chernin for The Birch Tree (commissioned and gifted by Dr Paul Ryan, 2014)

*Chiaki Namura for Akhnaten scent (commissioned by Alex Moskvin, gifted by International Flavors and Fragrances)

*Ann Carr-Boyd for Suite for Diana (commissioned by Diana Weston, 2014 for the recording The Birch Tree)

*May Howlett for Flutter-by, my Butterfly for the recording The Birch Tree (commissioned by Diana Weston, 2014)

*Ann Carr-Boyd for Crimson Rosella: suite for 2 harpsichords (commissioned by Diana Weston, 2015).

*Kymba Burrows for sketches for Bird in the Orchard set of greeting cards, set to a poem by Diana Weston (commissioned by Diana Weston, 2016).

*May Howlett for Tilting at Windmills (gifted by the composer, 2017).

*Isabel Doraisamy for the cover-art for Lady Huang's Album (commissioned by Diana Weston, 2017).

*New works requested by and gifted to Dr Michael Tsalka for the recording Lady Huang's Album: Gabriele Toia/Variations on a Ground (2016); Max Yount/Sonatine (2016); Leonardo Coral/Tocatta (2016); and to Diana: Benjamin Thorn/Underground Currents and Diana Blom/Lady Huang's Album (2017) 


 In rehearsal for Phaedra: Shaun, Julia, Tara, Steve, Cathy, Angus, Lucy, Hester, conductor Sarah