Monday, February 26, 2024


Christina Wilson, mezzo soprano

Sonia Anfiloff, soprano

AJ America, mezzo soprano

Louise Page, soprano

Alan Hicks, piano

Philippa Candy, piano

Roland Peelman, harpsichord

Art Song Canberra

Wesley Music Centre, Forrest 25 February


Reviewed by Len Power


For Oliver Raymond, the retiring President of Art Song Canberra, a tribute concert performed by an outstanding group of singers and their accompanists became an extraordinary celebration.

Oliver Raymond has been President of Art Song Canberra continuously since 1995. Under his stewardship, the company has become one of Australia’s leading organisations devoted to the regular performance and wide appreciation of art song.

Also retiring and being honoured at the concert was his wife, Helen Raymond, who has been Art Song’s long serving Secretary.

Helen and Oliver Raymond

The list of performers, all of whom have close ties, past and present, to Art Song Canberra, were representative of the high standard that the company’s audiences have come to enjoy over the years.

Mezzo soprano, Christina Wilson, with Alan Hicks at the piano, presented a wide-ranging group of songs by composers such as Schubert, Schumann, Grainger and Fauré. All were superbly sung with the highlights being To Music by Franz Schubert and the haunting How Sweet The Moonlight Sleeps by Michael Head.

Wilson was then joined by soprano, Sonia Anfiloff for two songs – The Night by Ernest Chausson and the famous Barcarole by Jacques Offenbach.  Their blend of voices, particularly in the Barcarole, was one of the high points of the concert.

From left: Alan Hicks, Christina Wilson, Philippa Candy, Helen Raymond, Oliver Raymond, Louise Page, Sonia Anfiloff and AJ America

After interval, the mezzo soprano, AJ America, with Roland Peelman accompanying on harpsichord, performed two songs by Monteverdi, one celebrating the joy of love and the other about unrequited love. America skilfully and beautifully brought out the emotions in both songs.

Soprano, Sonia Anfiloff, with Alan Hicks on piano then performed songs by Henri Duparc, Samuel Barber, Michael Head and Robert Schumann. The power of her voice and her sensitive delivery of the emotions in the songs were outstanding. The highlight of her performance was Barber’s Sure On This Shining Night.

The last performer was soprano, Louise Page. Long associated with Art Song Canberra, she returned from retirement just for this concert. She was accompanied by Philippa Candy on piano and they performed five songs by Monique Carole-Smith, Fernando Obradors and Richard Strauss.

Page’s voice and ability to delivery emotion and meaning in the songs were as remarkable as ever and it was wonderful to hear her voice again. Carole-Smith’s War Song and Strauss’s The Night and Dedication were the highlights of her performance.

The concert finished with a call to the stage for Oliver and Helen Raymond. Surrounded by the performers who then sang Strauss’s Dedication to the couple, the full-house of audience members gave them a long and much-deserved standing ovation.


Photos by Peter Hislop

This review was first published by Canberra CityNews digital edition on 26 February 2024.

Len Power's reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’ programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at