Michelle regularly performed as a soloist with the ANU Symphony Orchestra and sang some major roles in ‘Opera Scenes’ concerts, including Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss, the Countess in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte and featured as the Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte under award winning German conductor Peter Lennard. She was soloist in Mahler’s 4th Symphony, performed for ceremonies and events at the ANU and participated in Gala concerts at various Embassies, High Commissions and Government House.
Michelle has been a finalist in many Eisteddfods and was winner of the Aria Competition at the Shoalhaven Eisteddfod in 2007 and enjoyed singing the title role in a production by Opera Queensland’s education program in Engelbert Humperdinck‘s Hansel and Gretel.
Michelle has regularly performed at EMSLA events, being sponsored by EMSLA’s Mal Eutick, and last year sung at the opening of a friend’s exhibition at the Grafton Art Gallery upon which the Galleries committee invited her “to please come and do a full concert there as soon as is convenient”.
She has organised and performed at fundraising concerts with proceeds going to sufferers from Down Syndrome and as recently as last March she appeared in a fundraiser performance for World Down Syndrome day.
Michelle is currently working on new repertoire with Leanne Swanson, focusing on late renaissance and early baroque music for voice and continuo.
Australian born Leanne Swanson started playing and performing the piano at an early age and received her first professional music education in New Zealand where she studied piano performance, chamber music and accompanying at the University of Otago (Dunedin) graduating with first class honours degree.
During her study years in NZ she was inspired by Dr.Sue Court, a specialist in many fields, including the role of women in music. As a consequence Leanne developed a keen interest in works of female composers and now tries to include some of the forgotten works of many female composers throughout history in every performance. Her concert program in Bellingen will include Lagrime Mie, a work by Babara Stozzi, one of the foremost female composers of vocal music in the Baroque era.
Back in Australia Leanne completed a master’s degree at the Queensland Conservatorium, was head of piano at Tamworth Conservatorium, piano tutor and accompanist at Newcastle University. She toured widely throughout Australia and New Zealand, performing and giving master-classes, has worked with artists from Opera Australia and performed for the EMSLA concerts.
Leanne now divides her time between teaching piano including at Coffs Harbour Regional Conservatorium, and freelancing as an accompanist.
Regarding her music partnership with Michelle, Leanne writes:
‘Michelle and I began our musical ‘liaison’ together performing operatic arias and the initial chemistry between us and a common passion for beautiful music making soon turned into a genuine friendship.
Our association is driven by a common interest in rediscovering musical works unfairly forgotten, neglected and obscure plus an interest in female composers. We now wish to explore the world of early music and beyond to the wonderful genre of lieder. Important to both of us is the relationship between poetry and music and the balance between voice and piano/harpsichord.
We are driven by a strong complicity in everything musical and a desire to share those musical passions with the audience.