Wednesday, July 25, 2018

‘Retiring’ Louise Page joins the critics

Louise Page as Brian's mum, photo Peter Hislop


THIS winter’s “In Conversation with the Canberra Critics' Circle" sessions at the Canberra Museum and Gallery got off to a cracking start on July 16 when soprano Louise Page joined the critics for an informal talk at Canberra Museum and Gallery.
The idea of the conversations, now in their fifth year, is to inform the critics (from all art forms) and to have them rubbing shoulders with practitioners and thinkers in the arts to broaden their perceptions and experiences.
One of Canberra’s best-loved artists, Louise Page was named Canberra Times Artist of the Year in 2007.
Over the years she has performed in opera, operetta, oratorio, cabaret, recital and radio broadcasts throughout Australia and Europe. In recent years she has been in everything from Chris Latham’s World War I project The Flowers of War to the comic oratorio inspired by Monty Python's Life of Brian – she played Brian’s Mum  –in the Canberra Choral Society and National Capital Orchestra production at Llewellyn Hall.
Page has given back to Canberra by performing for many community events over the year and told critics of her long love affair with Canberra. Although raised and initially trained in cello in her home town, Perth, she made her home in Canberra and, often with difficulty, but always with the support of her husband John, found a way of making music while raising a family and enjoying the life the National Capital has had to offer.
She has recorded ten CDs of music varying from Lieder to operetta to premières of Australian music and Christmas songs. She is also a teacher, adjudicator and arts facilitator, and in 2013 was awarded an OAM for services to the performing arts.
Page graduated with distinction from the Canberra School of Music and then, after a short stint in Germany, joined the Young Artist Program of the Vienna State Opera, performing in operas, oratorios and concerts in Austria, Germany and Belgium, where she won the ‘City of Ghent’ Prize in the Belgian Radio and Television Opera en Bel Canto competition.
A past vocal grand finalist in the ABC Young Performer of the Year competition, where her performance of the Four Last Songs of Richard Strauss with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra earned a ‘MO’ Award nomination for classical performance, she was also the inaugural winner of the Mietta’s Song Recital Competition, a ground-breaking initiative by Melbourne restaurateur Mietta O'Donnell to put sophisticated classical song into a cabaret milieu.
She has appeared as a soloist with the Sydney, Queensland, Canberra and Central Coast Symphony Orchestras, the National Capital Orchestra and the Canberra Youth Orchestra. She was also as a soloist in the Voices in the Forest concerts at the Arboretum.
Now after a life in music, Page has announced her retirement in late November,when she will appear for Art Song Canberra with her long-time associate artist, pianist Phillipa Candy.
Questioned by the  sceptical critics, she was quite definite that she would ‘cut off’ completely from engagements and spend time with her family, for the time being, at least.
But first she will be singing in her last Flowers of War event, The Lost Jewels, a concert of musical and artistic treasures lost to the Great War, at the James O. Fairfax Theatre, National Gallery of Australia, Friday 10 August 7.30pm and Saturday 11 August 2pm. Bookings to