Brisbane’s Musical Feast on the way soon

WORDS: Phil Hawkes PHOTOGRAPHY Supplied

There’s plenty to look forward to early in the New Year, just up the road in our Northern suburb.

After all the Christmas pud has been digested, and Auld Lang Synes are back in the closet for another year, let’s enjoy musical normality for the first few months of 2023. Brisbane is going all out with a huge range of musical treats from January onwards, culminating in a spectacular programme  of Wagner operas – the Ring Cycle in November/December. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Here is a selection of what’s in store for the first quarter of the year. Our musical cup truly runneth over. Diaries ready?

MUSICALS at QPAC   qpac.com.au

  • Hamilton, the multi-award-winning rap-rock musical which has surprised the world since 2015, given that it’s about American history and founding father Alexander Hamilton. It’s currently the third biggest grossing Broadway show ever, after Book of Mormon and Mama Mia! Join the revolution and get your tickets before it opens at QPAC on 27 January, after which it may be impossible to get a seat when the reviews are in.
  • SIX, another pop musical based on history, but of a very different kind…the six wives of Henry VIII. Each of the Queens tells her own story, and why she should be the leader of their rock group. Who would you vote for? I saw this show in Sydney and can thoroughly recommend it for a heady(?), tuneful experience. Playing at QPAC Playhouse through Jan-Feb 2023.




  • Macbeth The combination of Shakespeare and Verdi is an event not to be missed by opera lovers in this concert performance at QPAC Concert Hall, 9-11 March. According to OQ CEO and Artistic Director Patrick Nolan, Macbeth is “a cautionary tale about the abuse of power… perhaps relevant to today’s world? The lead roles will be sung by well-known baritone Jose Carbo (Macbeth), rising star Anna-Louise Cole (Lady Macbeth) with audience favourite Rosario la Spina as Macduff.
  • Studio Series concerts, in a more intimate setting at OQ Studio will return in 2023 featuring a range of wonderful voices performing an hour or so of their favourite songs…for example in March, soprano Irena Lysiuk will pay homage to composer Francis Poulenc, accompanied by Alex Raineri. These studio concerts will run throughout the year.




It’s going to be a big year for the QSO under the direction of dynamic Chief Conductor Umberto Clerici, well loved by Australian audiences. For the blockbuster event, Wagner’s Ring Cycle with Opera Australia, we’ll have to wait until the end of the year, but there’s plenty to look forward to before then.

  • Ode to Joy Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is a hymn to the utopia of the equality of all humankind, and the final choral movement is one of the most popular classical works ever written. This concert will fill the QPAC Concert Hall 17-19 February with much joy, with William Barton and the QSO performing Sculthorpe’s Earth Cry and  joining Véronique Serret in their new composition, Heartland.
  • Grieg and Brahms What a winning double! Edvard Grieg‘s Piano Concerto and the Brahms Symphony No. 1 on the same programme, conducted by Johannes Fritzsch in the Morning Masterworks series on 17 and 18 March.
  • Sergio Tiempo in recital 21 March at QSO Studio, South Bank – expect a colourful, scintillating performance from Sergio on the brand new QPAC Steinway piano, with works by Chopin, Piazzolla and others.




I never fail to be impressed and inspired by our Youth Orchestras, simply wonderful ensembles which tackle some of the greatest classical works with amazing maturity. Their performance of the difficult Mahler 3 this year was astounding. On 7 March, Queensland Youth Symphony will bring you Moussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and Debussy’s Nocturnes conducted by Simon Hewett at Conservatorium Theatre, Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University.




This is a chamber group that Queenslanders can be really proud of. Musical perfection is their hallmark, and at QPAC on 25 Feb you can experience just that in Heartstrings, a programme including Tchaikowsky’s romantic Serenade for Strings, Copland’s Appalachian Spring Suite, and new works by Martin and Montgomery. (Camerata’s performance at HOTA in 2022 with singer Lior will long be remembered by those lucky to be there.)



SOUTHERN CROSS SOLOISTS             southernxsoloists.com

For City of Lights, a programme inspired by the romance of Paris, SXS will embrace music by Debussy and Ravel, plus  works by Gluck, Mozart and Prokofiev who lived there for some time. SXS will be joined by Artist in Residence Konstantin Shamray, acclaimed Queensland violinist Courtenay Cleary, Portuguese flute soloist David Silva, and young Brisbane-born cello soloist who has just recently returned from living in Paris, Guillaume Wang.  




“A shining light over the Australian musical landscape”, “a cultural icon” are just two reviews of this world-famous ensemble founded in 1975 by John Painter, and since 1990, led by Artistic Director Richard Tognetti. On 13 Feb at QPAC, virtuoso Ilya Gringolts will play one of the most popular Romantic violin concertos, Max Bruch No. 1; and you can expect a spirited performance of the Mendelssohn String Symphony. Then on 13 March there’s Vivaldi’s Four Seasons awaiting, also at QPAC Concert Hall.



QUEENSLAND BALLET    queenslandballet.com.au

Great news! A Midsummer Night’s Dream will come to the Gold Coast at HOTA, 24-25 Feb before an extensive regional tour.
Then, if you can wait a bit longer, much-loved Giselle will be coming to QPAC in April.




If you’d like a Brisbane Night’s Dream (without the fairies) the Novotel South Bank is just a few minutes’ walk from the cultural precinct, and good value as well. With discounted rates at public parking nearby, accommodation packages offer food & beverage inclusions at Spice Central, the hotel restaurant named in Tripadvisor’s Top 10 in  Brisbane.