Past Concerts

Creswick concert 26 August 2023

Beethoven, Shostakovich and Piazzolla were all on the musical menu at the Chamber Players recent concert at the RACV Goldfields Resort. This was the first time that a classical group had played here.

It was a great success with an enthusiastic audience, who told us they enjoyed good acoustics right to the back of the room. The second quartet in the Rasumovsky series was played, Op.59 No.2, as well as Shostakovich’s Quartet No.8 that expresses his life in music and is dedicated to the victims of fascism and war. Our own Sasha Bronshtein arranged Piazzolla’s Oblivion and improvised ecstatically on top of the warm harmonies and tango rhythms.

Thanks to CresFest, Regional Arts Vic, and RACV Goldfields resort for making this concert possible.

Bringing Female Composers to the Fore 29 April 2023

Projections and photo by Frank Veldze

Northern Arts Hotel, Castlemaine
This concert featured an all-female lineup and was great fun to research and play.

Rebecca Clarke from the early 20th century only wrote two string quartet movements as far as we know. She was famous in her time as a viola virtuoso player, with some recognition in her lifetime of her compositions but is becoming more widely known now as a composer. Her music is romantic and melodious with modern harmonies and textures.

We played Andrea Keeble‘s quirky sound portraits of her family. Andrea Keeble is a Melbourne violinist and composer who creates a unique sound world, lilting and heartfelt. She plays in Cosmo Cosmolino (gypsy-inspired music), Collider (jazz sextet) and Ad Hoc Collective (improvisation concert group). She has released two CDs of her compositions, ‘Congratulations’ and ‘Teeter’.

The audience swooned to Sasha Bronshtein and Wendy Rowland‘s arrangements of Latin music and screen soundtracks. Sasha is familiar to Castlemaine audiences as the first violinist in the Chamber Players. She’s also a wonderful singer currently exploring Brazilian music. Wendy Rowlands from Castlemaine is the artistic director of Corker Orchestra, Mainesong Choir and Brazazul.

Elena Kats-Chernin is a prolific Australian composer, famous for her ballet music for Wild Swans. She has written film scores, ballet and theatre music and won several music composition prizes. Emma Wade is co-director of Resonance String Orchestra and composes and arranges music for the orchestra.

Heaven and Earth I
Northern Arts Hotel, 23 September 2022

This concert began the Beethoven Rasumovsky quartet cycle in Castlemaine, with Opus 59, No.1 in F.

Pre-Pandemic concerts/summer schools

Opening for Flinders Quartet’s
Collins St series

On Tuesday 3 March 2020 CCP was honoured to feature in the pre-concert, playing a movement of Brahms String Quartet No.3 in Bb. The Collins St Baptist Church with its wonderful acoustics was a joy to play in.

Mt Buller summer school

Castlemaine Chamber Players performing at a cocktail concert

Photo Paul Whitehead

In 2020 the famous Mt Buller Chamber Music Summer School was held at Candlebark Farm, Healesville, due to the bushfire risk at Mt Buller. It was simultaneously hard work and loads of fun. We played chamber music for hours every day, taking masterclasses with outstanding Australian and New Zealand string players, playing in concerts for our peers and receiving feedback.

We had masterclasses with outstanding musicians and then rehearsed intensively, finding ever-increasing intimacy and warmth in our sound. This year’s six tutors were unfailingly helpful.

Wilma Smith, violin, co-artistic director – Wilma and Friends; Flinders Quartet
Elinor Lea, violin, co-artistic director – Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra
Gillian Ansell, viola – New Zealand String Quartet
Michael Dahlenberg, cello – Melbourne Chamber Orchestra
Tobias Lea, viola – Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Anna Pokorny, cello – Freelance player with Australian Chamber Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony

Concerts 2022

Heaven & Earth

Beethoven and Shostakovich for string quartet

  • Beethoven, String Quartet Opus 59, No.1 in F major, 1805-6
  • Shostakovich, String Quartet No.8, 1960

Concert #1

3rd September, 2.30pm
Mulberry Manse
8 Roses Lane, Clunes

Concert #2

23rd September, 7.30pm
Northern Arts Hotel
359 Barker St, Castlemaine

Castlemaine Chamber Players takes you on an emotional journey with their passionate performance of these masterworks.

Beethoven and Shostakovich each wrote 15 or more quartets, and these are from the middle period of both composers’ careers.

Beethoven’s Opus 59 Rasumovsky quartets were written in 1805, around the time of his third symphony, the Eroica. You’ll hear the symphonic influence in this quartet.

Shostakovich’s Opus 8 quartet, with poignant personal slow movements and a furious driving fast Allegro, was written in only three days. Dedicated to the victims of Fascism and war, it’s autobiographical, with quotes from earlier works, and his musical signature as the theme, D-Eb-C-B.

The Castlemaine Chamber Players are Sasha Bronstein and Heather Cummins, violin, Frances Gall, viola and Elisabeth Anderson, cello. The majority live in Castlemaine, where they have given several concerts, and now look forward to playing in Clunes as well as Castlemaine this year.

The group was formed in 2014 and performs a wide range of music for string quartet and other string ensembles. Previous concerts with guest performers featured Mozart’s quintets and the two string sextets by Brahms. They also like performing contemporary Australian compositions, and have commissioned music by Castlemaine composer Wendy Rowlands.

Concert in 2019

On Saturday 25th May at Buda the Chamber Players performed one of Brahms’ string quartets and several contemporary Australian works.

We continued our obsession with Brahms’ chamber music, this time playing his String Quartet in B flat, Opus 67. This is a mature work in four movements overflowing with melodies, rich harmonies and rhythmic invention.

This contrasted with contemporary compositions by Australian composers. We played Eliza’s Aria and Blue Rose by Elena Kats-Chernin, Reggie’s Quartet by Andrea Keeble, and a new arrangement of Besame Mucho, composed especially for us by Wendy Rowlands.

Castlemaine Concert

Saturday 19th May, 2018 – 7.30pm

The Garden Room of Buda Historic House, 42 Hunter St, Castlemaine.

Castlemaine Chamber Players performed Mozart’s String Quintet in C.
This is one of Mozart’s two-viola quintets, and joining the Chamber Players was violist Olivia Forsberg from Melbourne. The program also included ‘Un poco allegretto’ by Brahms from his second string quintet, a romantic piece in both senses of the word, based on the Viennese waltz. The concert took place in Buda’s Garden Room and was well-attended despite clashing with the Royal wedding!

The Chamber Players enjoyed demonstrating the results of their January attendance at the Mt Buller Chamber Music Summer School, where they worked intensively with players from the Merlin Ensemble of Brisbane as well as Caroline Henbest, viola, and Patrick Murphy, cello.

This concert followed the Chamber Players’ previous performance of Mozart’s Quintet in G minor. Both quintets were composed in Mozart’s late period, within a few months of each other in 1787. They are major works by Mozart, each with four exquisite contrasting movements that demonstrate Mozart’s mastery of the chamber music form.

Autumn House Concert

Sunday 21st May, 2017
Two performances – 3pm & 7pm
2 Edward St. Castlemaine

Chamber music in the drawing room of one of Castlemaine’s historic homes. The Players warm strings and versatility in performance of the amazing Mozart string quintet in G minor, a Tango or Two, and songs of Gershwin and Berlin, sung by Sasha Bronshtein with quartet accompaniment.

These concerts supported the Players attendance at the Mt Buller Chamber Music Summer School.


Concert 2016

Castlemaine – Buda Garden Room
Sunday 23rd October 2016, 3.00pm


Bach – 5th Suite for solo cello, played by Sam Goble
Bartok – Duos for 2 Violins
Mozart – String Quintet in G Minor

Concert 2015

Castlemaine Steiner School

Saturday 24th October, 3pm

Following the success of their sell-out concert last year featuring Brahms’ first string sextet, Castlemaine Chamber Players return this year to present Brahms’ second string sextet and Fintan Murphy performs another exquisite solo Bach suite.

Brahms – String Sextet No 2 in G

Bach – Solo played by Fintan Murphy

Schubert – String Quintet in C, 1st movement

Carl Vine – String Quintet, 1st movement

In an unusual pairing, Castlemaine Chamber Players will play the first movement of the famous String Quintet in C by Schubert, one of the masterworks of the chamber music repertoire. This is followed with the first movement of Carl Vine’s 2009 String Quintet, composed as a concert companion to Schubert’s quintet, and dedicated to human rights lawyer Julian Burnside.

Concert 2014

Castlemaine Art Gallery
Saturday Nov.15th 2014 7pm

Luigi Boccherini 1743-1805
Cello quintet in C Major Op.28/No.4

Boccherini was an Italian composer who worked in Spain at the royal court. He was a prolific composer, writing over 100 works for string quintet alone. Boccherini was a cellist and the first cello part is virtuosic, often in a higher register than the first violin. There are sounds imitating bird calls, shimmering textures with fast overlapping notes and many trills. Influences of Spanish dances and refined 18th century court life are there, with musical jokes in the fast movements and exquisite pathos in the slow 3rd movement, ‘Grave’. This Quintet in C features the famous Rondo that is often played inan arrangement for cello and piano.

J.S. Bach 1685-1750
Suite for Solo Cello No.5
in C Minor

This suite of movements based on French 18th century court dances is one of six suites by Bach for solo cello that push the boundaries of the form and do not appear to have been performed in Bach’s lifetime. They were studied and performed by Pablo Casals in the 20th century and have since become important solo works for cello and viola players. Fintan Murphy plays this solo suite on viola. Prelude, Allemande, Corrente, Sarabande, Gavottes and Gigue are the six movements.

Johannes Brahms 1833-1897
String Sextet No.1 in Bb Major

This piece for two violins, two viola and two cellos is one of the masterpieces of the Romantic chamber music repertoire. With six voices instead of the usual four Brahms creates rich harmonies and adds even more depth with double stops. Brahms’ music features sophisticated use of syncopation. Melodies and accompaniments occur in different timings so the overall effect is of fluid ever-changing movement. In true Romantic style there is a lush string tone. The melodic invention is extraordinary, with different melodies invoking characters of grandeur and storms, contrasted with charm and lightness.