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Friday, December 4, 2020
Ian Cubitts
Ian Cubitts

Julian Smiles grinning ahead of CSO’s Live at Llewellyn

Acclaimed cellist Julian Smiles has a longstanding connection to Llewellyn Hall, the venue he will grace alongside the Canberra Symphony Orchestra (CSO) later this month for Live at Llewellyn – their first mainstage performance since March.

“It’s a terrific venue, I actually sang at the opening of it when I was about six in the Canberra Children’s Choir for a performance that opened the hall. I’ve been performing there since it opened,” he told Canberra Weekly.

“For a concert hall it’s quite wide, which means the audience ends up being quite close to you … it’s a lovely big wooden stage which gives a good acoustic for performers.”

The CSO’s Live at Llewellyn includes performances on 25 and 26 November and will have a sense of occasion about it for both the musicians and audience.

Alongside the orchestra, it be the biggest crowd for which Smiles has performed since March too, with his first live performance since COVID just a week ago with his Goldner String Quartet before 100 people in Sydney.

“It’ll be very special for everyone, I get the impression many, many audience members have been missing the opportunity,” he said.

“I think there will be a great sense of occasion to it and relief and joy to be able to perform live music the way it should be.”

For the performance, Smiles will accompany a reduced sized orchestra to perform Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33.

“It’s one of these very central pieces in cello repertoire, a great showpiece for us, it’s technically demanding, and a bit of a showoff piece made famous by a lot of famous cellists over the years,” he said.

Praising the inclusion of works by Australian composer Matthew Hindson, and Beethoven, given 2020 marks his 250th birthday, Smiles described the Live at Llewellyn program as “very attractive”.

“Many orchestras, organisations and festivals were planning to celebrate (Beethoven) accordingly,” he said. “So, it’s nice to be celebrating with this performance.”

Having grown up in Canberra and lived most his adult life in Sydney, Smiles said that with family here as well as many professional opportunities he regularly returns home.

“I still feel Canberra is home … I’m always very happy to come back,” he said.

“I enjoy the space, proximity to the bush, all these sorts of things that make Canberra special.”

The CSO’s Live at Llewellyn will take place 25-26 November 6.30pm; click here for more.

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