Monday, August 10, 2015


Artsong Canberra
Sonia Anfiloff, soprano
Ben Connor, baritone
Alan Hicks, piano
Wesley Music Centre, Forrest
Sunday 9 August 2015

Review by Len Power

Artsong Canberra presented an impressive lineup of musical talent with their cleverly themed concert, ‘A Fleeting Fantasy’, at the Wesley Music Centre.

Husband and wife singers, Sonia Anfiloff and Ben Connor, with accompanist, Alan Hicks, gave us a richly varied group of songs around a theme of dreams, magic, mythical creatures and love.  The young Australian singers, now living in Vienna, have an impressive list of credentials with Master degrees, Eisteddfod wins, scholarships and performing credits both in Australia and in Europe.  Alan Hicks is one of Australia’s foremost vocal coaches and accompanists and currently Head of Vocal and Keyboard Performance at the University of Canberra and a vocal coach in the opera unit at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

Sonia Anfiloff, Ben Connor and Alan Hicks

Sonia Anfiloff displayed her beautiful soprano voice in the reflective, melancholy works, ‘Dreams’ by Richard Wagner, ‘Sad Song’ by Henri Duparc, ‘Melancholy, gentle nymph’ by Vincenzo Bellini and ‘Was it not recently with magic sounds…’ by Nikolai Medtner.

Ben Connor’s rich baritone was impressive from his first song, ‘Night And Dreams’, by Franz Schubert, through the tender ‘Mysticism’ by Pier Adolfo Tirindelli, the restrained emotion of ‘Fantasy’ by Gustav Mahler and the dramatic and chilling ‘Alder King’ by Franz Schubert.  Their voices blended perfectly in the duets, ‘Night’, by Ernest Chausson and in their encore, ‘Stranger in Paradise’, from ‘Kismet’ by Borodin, Wright and Forrest.  Alan Hicks’ sensitive and pleasing accompaniment on piano gave the singers great support throughout the concert.

Both singers demonstrated strong acting abilities in their performances as well as a good understanding of the texts of their songs.  In a nicely judged and very funny audience participation sequence, the singers showed a gift for comedy with their down to earth and spontaneous interaction with the audience and with their accompanist, who matched them with a sly sense of humour.

This was a very entertaining concert with a pleasing set of songs sung superbly by these excellent Australian singers.

Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast in the ‘Artcetera’ program on Artsound FM 92.7 on Saturdays from 9am.