Friday Music
August 2016

St Stephen's Uniting Church
197 Macquarie St, Sydney
(opposite Parliament House)

Donation welcome

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5 August


Hrafnhildur Björnsdóttir - Soprano

Martyn Parkes - Piano


Exultate Jubilate KV165 - Mozart (1756-1791)

Schubert (1797-1828)

An die Musik Op. 88 No.4
Gretchen und Spinrade Op. 2
Die Forelle Op. 32

Michael Head (1900 – 1976)

A Piper
A Blackbird Singing

Richard Strauss (1864-1949)

Ständchen Op. 17 No.2
Morgen Op. 27 No. 4
Zueignung Op. 10 No.1


Hrafnhildur Björnsdóttir, known as 'Habba' graduated from the Reykjavík School of Singing in Iceland and furthered her studies on the Postgraduate Diploma Course at Trinity College of Music in London, England. Following her permanent move to the UK she has sung for many of the leading Opera companies including, English National Opera, Scottish Opera and English Touring Opera. Opera role highlights include Queen of the Night in the Magic Flute (Mozart) and 1st Lady with English Touring Opera and leading roles for The Icelandic Opera, which have included Gretel in Hansel und Gretel (Humperdink), Gianetta in E'lisir d'amour (Donizetti) Adele in Die Fledermaus (Strauss) Frasquita in Carmen (Bizet) Lucia in The Rape of Lucretia (Britten) Venere, Fortuna and Damigella in Poppea (Monteverdi) Najade in Ariadne auf Naxos (R Strauss)​.

Habba is also an accomplished Oratorio singer, including , Messiah by Handel, Gloria by Vivaldi, Requiem by Mozart, Missa Brevis by Britten, Carmina Burana by Orff, Requiem by Rutter and Requiem by Brahms. Habba has given concerts all over the world including ones in Australia and New Zealand.


Martyn Parkes was raised and educated in England. He studied at the University of Hull obtaining an Honours degree and was awarded the departmental prize for outstanding musical achievement before continuing his studies at The Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester specialising in piano accompaniment under the guidance of John Wilson. Whilst at the RNCM he won the prestigious Bessie Cronshaw Song Cycle Award for Accompaniment and the Margaret Tudor Evans Prize for Accompaniment. Between 1997 and 2006 he held the post of staff pianist at the RNCM before moving Chetham's School of Music as one of the Staff Accompanists there, a position which he still holds.
Martyn has worked and performed as orchestral pianist with many of the leading UK orchestras including The BBC Philharmonic and Hallé Orchestra. He regularly appears on the BBC Young Musician Competition and has played for competitors in the finals for the last 14 years. Other major projects have included Accompanist for 'The Kiri Prize', a competition founded by Dame Kiri te Kanawa in association with BBC Radio 2.
Martyn runs a small company called Impromptu Opera as well as being the accompanist for Art Song International.


12 August


Ryan O'Donnell (tenor)

Josephine Tam (pianoforte)


Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)

On Wedlock Edge
1. "On Wenlock Edge"
2. "From Far, from Eve and Morning"
3. "Is My Team Ploughing?"
4. "Oh, When I Was in Love with You"
5. "Bredon Hill" 
6. "Clun"

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)

Zu Strassburg auf der Schanz
Ablösung im Sommer

Claude Debussy (1862 - 1918)

Fleur de blés
Nöel des enfants qui n'ont plus de maison


Ryan O'Donnell

Australian tenor Ryan O'Donnell is currently completing a Bachelor of Music (Performance) at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music under the tuition of Maree Ryan (Chair of Vocal and Opera Studies).

He has performed as a soloist in concerts and recitals, most recently being selected to represent the Sydney Conservatorium of Music at the 2016 Estivo European Chamber Music Summer School in Verona, Italy. In 2015 he completed a concert tour of northern NSW with associate artist David Miller AM, as a soloist with the Sydney Conservatorium New Northern Tour, performing in concerts across Northern Regional NSW, Australia. Recent highlights also include being one of four finalists in the 2015 Elizabeth Todd Lieder Scholarship, along with performing as one of the Stars of Australian Opera at the 2015 Woolworths Carols in the Domain on live national television.

Ryan has performed roles across many genres, including Ralph Rackstraw (HMS Pinafore), John Howard (Keating! The Musical), The Beast (Beauty and the Beast) and Crisostomo Ibarra in workshops for a new musical adaptation of Noli me tangere. Operatic roles performed include the role of Dr Graham in The English Eccentrics for the Sydney Conservatorium Opera School conducted by Stephen Mould and Mr Grey in the Australian premiere of Joseph Horowitz's chamber opera Gentleman's Island for Operantics.



Josephine Tam

Josie is a pianist, violinist as well as Opera/Theatre singer. She is currently a Masters student as a Répétiteur at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, under the direction of Stephen Mould. Scholarships offered include "The Australian Collaborative Pianist Full Scholarship" in Munich Bel Canto Summer Voice Program and the 2016 Estivo Chamber Music Summer School. She has studied under Christopher McMullen, Lorne Richstone, Ted Ganger, Dr Gian-Franco Ricci,Mrs Ann O'Hearn, Dr Susan Collins,Dr Jennifer Barnes, Ghillian Sullivan, Glenn Winslade, Claudia Visca, Stephen Delaney, Sharolyn Kimmoley among others.

Josie has been involved in "The Bernstein Mass, Messiah, Carmina Burana, Little Women the Opera, Avenue Q, The Gondoliers, Trial by Jury, Trouble in Tahiti, Thoroughly Morden Milly, Magic Flute, The Merry Widow, Patient, Lucky Stiff, Spelling Bee, Wonderful Town"

As well as a pianist, she was the lead role "Kim" in Opera Hunter's 2009 production "Miss Saigon"; "Fiammetta" in Newcastle Festival Opera's 2010 "The Gondoliers"; Musical Director in Newcastle Gilbert and Sullivan's "Double Bill"; "Christmas Eve" in Pantseat Production's 2011 "Avenue Q", in which Josie has earned as a Nominee for "Best Actress in a leading role in a Musical" in 2011 33rd Conda Awards. Josie is also a member of the Echology Choir since 2008, winner of Channel 7 "Battle of the Choirs" TV show. 




19 August


The Nano Symphony

Neil Thompson (viola)

Catherine Thompson (clarinet) &

Lee Akinsanya (piano)



From '8 pieces' Op. 83 (numbers 1, 2, 5 & 6) - Max Bruch (1838 - 1920)

1. Andante
2. Allegro con moto
5. Rumänische Melodie: Andante
6. Nachtgesang: Andante con moto

Trio in B flat Op. 11 - Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827)

1. Allegro con brio
2. Adagio
3. Tema con variazioni



Neil Thompson - Viola

Having begun on viola in his hometown Whyalla, Neil's career has taken him all around the world, including to Europe as soloist. Neil has performed and toured with the Adelaide, Melbourne, Tasmanian and Sydney Symphony Orchestras (upon holding an SSO fellowship in 2012), as well as with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and its sister orchestra ACO2 with whom he was an 'Emerging Artist'. He enjoyed two years of touring with 'The Cat Empire' and features as soloist and guest artist on their DVD 'Live at the Bowl'. Neil regularly performs at the Sydney Opera House with the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra for Opera Australia and the Australian Ballet.

Primarily involved in playing chamber-music, he has been fortunate enough to have performed alongside Pekka Kuusisto, Kristian Winther, Richard Tognetti, Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Simone Young, Brett Dean, Lisa Moore and others.

2015 proved to be a particularly exciting year for him having been invited to join the highly acclaimed 'Omega Ensemble' as well as co-founding 'The Nano Symphony' with his wife, clarinettist Catherine Thompson -

With previous conducting mentors including Richard Gill and Keith Crellin, Neil is currently conductor/director of Killara High's orchestras and has directed performances of Schubert's 'Great' 9th Symphony (in Adelaide) and Faure's Requiem with the Mosman Symphony Orchestra, Sydney.

Catherine Thompson – Clarinet

Catherine is a graduate of the Elder Conservatorium of Music having obtained her Bachelor of Music in Performance with First Class Honours. She was a recipient of the prestigious Helpmann Academy Grant which allowed her to undertake two Professional Development Tours in Germany where she studied with Ralph Manno, Chen Halevi, Norbert Kaiser and Wolfgang Meyer. Catherine has also performed in master-classes with Sabine Meyer, Paul Dean and Nuno Silver. 

She has performed with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Australian Youth Orchestra, the Elder Conservatorium Symphony and Wind Orchestras and has participated in the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra Career Development Program and National Music Camp. As a soloist, Catherine has performed Mozart's Clarinet Concerto with the Elder Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra to a sold out audience, to critical acclaim. She is highly passionate about Chamber Music and is a founding member of chamber group 'The Nano Symphony'

Catherine is also a Yoga Teacher and Holistic Health Coach with a passion for inspiring people to embrace natural health and wellbeing. If you would like to know more you can follow her at

Lee Akinsanya - Pianoforte

Lee Akinsanya (née Cheong) was born in Sydney and studied piano with Elizabeth Powell whilst attending the Conservatorium High School. Lee went on to undertake her BMus with Honours at the Sydney Conservatorium learning from Stephanie McCallum. She was awarded two merit scholarships in 2007 and again in 2008. Lee was a finalist in the Australian National Piano Award in 2008. 

In the following year Lee travelled abroad to study in the UK at the Royal Northern College of Music under the tutelage of Stephen Savage. Lee performed in many concerts at the RNCM including the Lunchtime Recital series, Chopin Festival and Open Day. During her studies she was a recipient of the Tait Memorial Trust Award and the Australian Bicentennial Award and also received an entrance scholarship from the RNCM. 

After completing her MMus in 2011 Lee performed in numerous solo and duo concerts around the UK. These concerts included performing in London at the Royal Over-Seas League, duo concert for Chorlton Arts Festival and lunchtime concerts at Lincoln Cathedral, Wakefield Cathedral and Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery.  

Lee returned to Sydney in 2013 and has since performed in many solo and chamber music concerts. In 2015 she became a member of the Nano Symphony. In addition to performing Lee teaches piano at St Aloysius' College and the Conservatorium High School. 



26 August


Paul Dean (UK) (organ)


Johann Sebastian Bach
(1685 - 1750)


Fantasia & Fugue in G minor (BWV 542)

O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde groß (BWV 622)

Herr Jesu Christ, dich uns zu wend (BWV 655)

Prelude & Fugue in E minor "The Wedge" (BWV 548)


Paul Dean pursues a free-lance career as a performer and teacher from his home in London. He is the Director of Music at St Michael's Church, Highgate and Deputy Director of Music at 'The Hall', Hampstead – one of the leading boys' preparatory schools in London.

He has had considerable success in several national and international competitions over the years, winning the Third International Organ Competition in Biarritz, the 1997 Royal College of Organists Performer of the Year Competition and the First International Organ Competition in Warsaw. He was also a finalist in the 16th International Organ Competition in Chartres.

Paul is in frequent demand as a soloist both in the UK and abroad. In 2009 he undertook his first solo concert tour of Australia to critical acclaim and he is delighted to be back making a return visit this year! Over the next few years, highlights will include recitals in France, Denmark and Sweden and a solo tour of South Africa.






Please click here for details of the St Stephen's organ