1 October 2010

Colin Lawson - Director, Royal College of Music, London
Colin Lawson - Director, Royal College of Music, London

When the music of the great Baroque composers enchanted the world 300 years ago Australia had not been discovered by Europeans, but Neal Peres Da Costa is fast making up for the time lapse.

A doyen of Early Music, Peres Da Costa has played, recorded and taught the works of Mozart, Vivaldi and Haydn around the globe for almost 20 years - helping establish Sydney as an international hub for the genre.

As the Chair of Early Music at The Con, Dr Peres Da Costa has led the charge on creating mainstream status for the historical style of performance and practice, and thereby preserving the techniques of a golden era of music writing and playing.

A stamp of approval is contained in the decision by London's Royal College of Music (RCM) - one of the top European institutions in the field of historical performance - to undertake a first ever joint program of lectures and concerts with The Con.

Next week 10 postgraduate students from the RCM will be in residence, exchanging ideas with local students, participating in workshops and collaborating with members of The Con's Early Music Ensemble.

The Director of RCM, Professor Colin Lawson, a classical clarinettist, and Ashley Solomon, the RCM's Head of Historical Performance and eminent recorder/flute practitioner, will conduct materclasses and lectures with the study groups.

A combined concert in the Verbrugghen Hall on 11 October will feature gems of 18th century music, including Corelli's Christmas Concerto and Vivaldi's 'La Folia' variations; the Telemann E minor Paris Quartet, and classical masterpieces by Mozart and Haydn.

"This collaboration is a wonderful opportunity for our students to interact and learn from early music students who are studying at one of the most prestigious European institutions in the field," commented Peres Da Costa.

"And just as exciting, next June will see our students in residence at RCM as part of a world tour by the Early Music Ensemble."

Peres Da Costa was an undergraduate when he was introduced to the harpsichord in the early 1980s. He started playing Bach, and defied his piano teacher by sticking to historical techniques, while at the same time pouring over ancient books to broaden his knowledge of how 18th century instruments were made, sounded, tuned and manipulated.

"I got this incredible bug. It was a giant jigsaw you couldn't complete. You had to use your imagination to fill in the blanks," he recalls.

After finishing his degree in Sydney, Peres Da Costa went to London where he undertook a Diploma in Early Music at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, followed by a Masters at London City University.

In the early 90s he and Ashley Solomon formed Florilegium, an ensemble that continues to thrive today, and involves fellow founding member Danny Yeadon, an internationally acclaimed cellist and Con lecturer.

By 2002 he had gained a PhD at Leeds University and run-up 15 years away from his beloved Sydney. Peres Da Costa jumped at the chance to join The Con as a casual lecturer. His career flourished after Dean and Principal, Professor Kim Walker, championed the development of Australia's first Early Music Unit.

"It hasn't looked back since 2005, and in fact continues to expand its courses and instrument study and period performance. The union with the RCM is testament to the high standards achieved."

Contact: Mick Le Moignan

Phone: 02 9351 1385

Email: 39420f5e6a551028273b2e18150a1a1a4a05092f33642820451e551d