Melbourne International Arts Festival Review: Van Diemen’s Band excite with stunning Cello Napoletano

Walking into Elizabeth Murdoch hall for the first leaves you struck by it’s beauty. It’s architectural design is distinct, elegant and intimate. Steps echo as we venture to our seats and as the band steps onto the stage, suddenly everything changes. Under the direction of Melbourne-born violinist Julia Fredersdorff, Van Diemen’s band are an array of talented musicians, many of whom have performed across Europe and Australia with some of the world’s most talented ensembles. Joined by the shining light that is Catherine Jones on the cello and the incredible William Carter on guitar, the ensemble were in their element on the stage at Melbourne Recital Centre as if the music came directly from their soul.

Launching ourselves into the middle of the 18th Century, imagine that you are perched on a ledge overlooking a sea port in Naples. As you rise and walk through churches and courts and gardens, the music envelops you and sends you in spirals, rising and falling as the music changes. Naples was the home to a world of well known composers, from Scarlatti, Geminiani and Bellini. The highlight of the fantastical program presented by Van Dieman’s band, was the celebration of lesser known composer Nicolo Fiorenza, who’s compositions were expertly put together and vivaciously played.

As a person who hasn’t picked up a classical instrument since the age of twelve, I had worried that I would be out of my depth attending the recital but instead I was blown away. Conductor-less, it was as if each musician was simply on the same wavelength, each piece burning with the passion that the music entails and evident smiles drifting on musician’s faces at the close of each song. The highlight came from the recognisable Night Watch by Boccherini, where the ensemble mimicked a marching band coming slowly within earshot before drifting into the night again. The perfect structure and exquisite pianissimo was expertly presented by the band.

The talent that the Tasmanian band have should be commended and the journey through Naples was hauntingly beautiful and stirring.


For more information on Van Diemen’s Band and their upcoming shows, head across to their website HERE. Van Diemen’s band performed as part of the Melbourne International Arts Festival. For more performances and information, head on over to their website.

This review attended the show at the Melbourne Recital Centre on the 8th of October.