Menu Sian Prior

Writer, Broadcaster, Singer, MC & Teacher

Vocal Concert at St Paul’s Cathedral, November 18th. [September 29]

The Westgarth Ensemble presents – Who Wears the Pants? operatic music from the Baroque and Classical eras

 In the mid 17th century the castrati dominated the operatic stage and were the superstars of the day. Their time is long past but many of the operas created to showcase their particular talents are still performed today. So who wears the pants now? Well, since the castrati voice was far closer to female vocal types, it’s only natural that these days it’s the girls!  In this program of soaring operatic quartets, trios and duets from the Baroque and Classical eras, all of the ensembles feature a mixture of female and male (formerly castrati) roles. Can you tell who’s wearing the pants?

Featuring works by: Monteverdi, Handel, Gluck, Vinci, Vivaldi and Mozart.

When: Wednesday 18th November, 1:00pm

Where: St Paul’s Cathedral, Flinders St, Melbourne (entry by donation)

Who: The Westgarth Ensemble –  Claire McDonald, Katrena Mitchell and Sian Prior (sopranos) and Kerrie Bolton (mezzo) accompanied by Greg Smith (pianist)

Background: The members of The Westgarth Ensemble have been singing together since 1997. Graduates of the Victorian College of the Arts Opera Studio, they have all worked for a range of Australian opera companies and ensembles. In recent years they have been presenting themed vocal concerts in venues around Victoria. In 2014 they performed ‘Secret Music of the Baroque’ at the Armadale Uniting Church and St Paul’s Cathedral.

The Performers:

Kerrie Bolton graduated from Melbourne University with a Batchelor of Music Performance, furthered her studies in the UK and completed a Master of Music Performance at the Victorian College of the Arts. Kerrie performs regularly with the choruses of both Opera Australia and Victorian Opera and as a soloist with many companies including Melbourne Opera, Lyric Opera, Chamber Made and with the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic.

Claire Macdonald commenced her tertiary studies at the Melba Conservatorium of Music and continued post-graduate study at the Victorian College of the Arts Opera Studio. She is currently the instrumental department co-coordinator of voice at Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School and works frequently as a soloist in recitals and concert performances.

Katrena Mitchell is a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts Opera Studio. A fellowship at the State Library of Victoria focusing on baroque vocal music has resulted in a series of concerts exploring aspects of this rich music period. As well as concert performances Katrena has performed various operatic roles with Eastern Metropolitan Opera.  She also programs music for ABC Classic FM.

Sian Prior graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts Opera Studio in 1999. She has performed with Operalive, More Than Opera, Opera Sessions, Divas Inc. and at the Macedon Music and Castlemaine Festivals. Sian is also a writer and broadcaster who can be heard presenting on Classic FM and 774 ABC Melbourne. Her memoir Shy was published in 2014.

Greg Smith was born in NZ and studied composition at the University of Canterbury.  Despite his teaching duties he maintains a constant performing profile. His skills in Musical Direction have been sought in many professional productions, including “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” in Asia, NZ and Australia (Really Useful), “Hello Again” (Halogen), “Putting It Together”, “A New Brain” and “Falsettos”.  Greg has played keyboards in productions of “Mamma Mia”, “Cats”, “Les Miserables”, “Into the Woods”, “42nd Street”, “Me & My Girl”, “Pirates of Penzance” and “Evita”.  He has also performed the role of Manny Weinstock in Terance McNally’s “Masterclass” at the Court Theatre in Christchurch.  A versatile accompanist and repetiteur, Greg can play anything from figured bass to jazz and rock. His operatic highlights were playing in “Eugene Onegin” and working with Teddy Tahu Rhodes and Dame Malvina Major.


The Westgarth Ensemble