Musica da Camera

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Who is Musica da Camera ?

Musica da Camera is a Canberra-based string chamber orchestra that consists of professional musicians, music educators and talented instrumental enthusiasts.




Musica da Camera was formed in Canberra in 1979 as a small baroque ensemble. Over the years and under successive musical directors it has grown in size and its repertoire has expanded to embrace chamber music of all styles and periods.  In recent years it has given Australian Premiers of a number of contemporary works for string orchestra.


How better for us to show you what we do than to show you past  concert programs and critiques. Here's a selection, .... scroll down.

"Re-imaginings"  June 2019

Some excerpts from Len Power's review in the CityNews.com.au:-


“REIMAGININGS” proved to be an apt title for Musica Da Camera String Orchestra’s latest concert, which presented three works, two were variations of music by Tchaikovsky and Vivaldi, and the third, an Australian work that contained a set of variations on a main theme...


... “Variations on a theme by Tchaikovsky” [ Arensky]...was played with great feeling by the orchestra, especially the quieter passages.


... “Like Snowdrops You Will Shine” was composed by French-Australian composer, Katia Beaugeais. ... shimmers with atmosphere and the orchestra gave it a fine performance....


... “The Four Seasons Recomposed” by Max Richter is a startling work from 2012. Taking parts of Vivaldi’s famous work, Richter makes them his own in a style described as postmodern and minimalist.


... Violin soloist, Canberra’s Helena Popovic, joined the orchestra for this challenging work. She gave an excellent performance, full of passion and energy as well as sensitivity and delicacy in the quieter moments of the work. The orchestra complemented her performance with accuracy and energy. They all truly deserved the thunderous applause they received at the conclusion.


... Once again, Musica Da Camera presented a fine concert. The nearly full house was a demonstration of their growing reputation amongst Canberra’s music lovers..


Read the full review by clicking this link:  CityNews.com.au

Soloist Helen, Conductor Leonard, Composer Katia (22/6/2019)

Photos Courtesy Peter Hislop

Conductor Leonard Weiss, Soloist Helen Popovic (22/6/2019)

Photo courtesy Peter Hislop

Musical Director, Madelaine Retter

Guest soloist, Sam Jenkin, violin

Violin Favourites, 21 Sep 2019

Excerpts from the reviewed  by TONY MAGEE in CityNews.com.au


... MAX Bruch’s “Concerto No. 1, Op. 26 for Violin and Orchestra” presented a challenging opening for Musica da Camera and 16-year-old violin soloist Sam Jenkin, one they pulled off successfully.


Beginning with a tentative orchestral wash, almost as if someone is whispering a secret, Jenkin emerged with a violin cadenza opening of heartfelt passion. There was much to enjoy along the way, particularly strong support from the four cellos and single double bass in an extended orchestral interlude.


... In “Irish Tune from County Derry”, the theme was stated with feeling and grace by the cello and viola sections and later taken over by first and second violins. In “Molly on the Shore”, .... the ensemble displayed fine dynamics with effective pizzicato work from cellos and double bass.


... “St Paul’s Suite” by Gustav Holst revealed enthusiastic and robust playing from the entire chamber orchestra,  ... sweeping solo violin passages, played with confidence and style by leader Madeleine Retter, were infused with the entire first violin section most effectively and with precision.


... Samuel Barber’s most famous piece, “Adagio for Strings" ...  The ensemble managed to capture the increasing dynamics of the piece, ... [It]  finishes on an optimistic major dominant chord of gentleness – something that Musica da Camera clearly felt and played with sensitivity.


...  “Concerto for two violins in D minor” by Sebastian Bach.... Jenkin joined Retter and the two soloists swept the piece along.... A most engaging performance, where Retter and Jenkin played together with confidence, delivering a robust tone and intelligent balance.


...  delighted the audience from start to finish. A credible effort from an enthusiastic group that adores fine music.

November 2019

Our last concert for 2019 was a program of works directed by Rosemary Macphail, and featuring harpist Rowan Phemister.


Len Power writes in the "Canberra Critics Circle":-


There’s something special about a harp in a music concert.  It’s a beautiful looking instrument with the curves of its wooden frame and shining strings.  Even when it’s just one of many instruments being played, its unique sound always soars magically above an orchestra.  Hearing it as the solo instrument in a harp concerto is an opportunity not to be missed.


The Musica Da Camera concert, very well-conducted by Rosemary Macphail, featured two works for the harp with soloist, Rowan Phemister, as well as a Concerto Grosso composed by Piero Castrucci, a work by Jean Sibelius and two other works by Claude Debussy.  The set of known and lesser-known works resulted in a concert of great variety.


Rowan Phemister is a Canberra-based harpist and harp teacher.  He studied the harp with international harpist, Alice Giles, and graduated with a Bachelor of Music from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.


The concert commenced with Handel’s well-known Harp Concerto No. 6 in B flat major.  Written as part of the oratorio, “Alexander’s Feast”, it’s a compact work in three distinctive movements.  It was very well-played by Rowan Phemister and the orchestra, especially the Larghetto second movement with its wistful melodies.


The harp concerto was followed by the Concerto Grosso Op 3 No 4 by Piero Castrucci who was one of the virtuoso violinists of his time and the leader of Handel’s opera orchestra for over 22 years.  It’s a work of great beauty with passages for solo violin and cello as well as two solo violins.  Orchestra members, John Dobson on violin, Helen Larmour on cello and Gillian Graham, also on violin, gave fine performances of these parts of the work and were well-supported by the rest of the orchestra.


The concert also included the delicately lovely “Girl With The Flaxen Hair” and the ragtime fun of “Golliwog’s Cakewalk” by Claude Debussy.  They were followed by the three movements of “Suite Champêtre” by Finnish composer, Jean Sibelius.  The three movements were eerily atmospheric and given a fine performance by the orchestra.


Rowan Phemister returned to the stage with the harp for the final work in the concert, “Danse Sacrée and Danse Profane” by Claude Debussy.  A very different work compared to the busy Handel piece played earlier in the concert, this slower, colourful and evocative work was skilfully played by Phemister with great feeling, bringing this fine concert to a satisfying close.


The original article is available <click here>


Rosemary Macphail

Rowan Phemister

Music da Camera is on SPOTIFY.

Our Nov 2017 concert recording has been released as a CD, and is available on SPOTIFY.

4th, 5th Nov 2017 Concert Program 4

Music from Mannheim

Conductor, Christian Renggli

Viola Soloist, Justin Julian


1. Johann Stamitz, Sinfonia in G

2. Johann Stamitz, Sinfonia in E-flat major

3. Carl Philipp Stamitz, Concerto for Viola

4. Franz Xaver Richter, Sinfonie in G major

5. Franz Ignaz Beck, Overturas I

6. Carl Philipp Stamitz, Orchestral quartet Op.4, No. 1 in C major