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Damien Dempsey

Walk around Damien Dempsey’s patch of Dublin’s northside and the places and people are like ancient dolmens round his lyrics. Turn a corner near his family home and there still are the “factories, trains and houses” he sang about on Shots, albeit quieter now, and more subdued.

Tradesmen walk around mid-morning with rolled up tabloid newspapers under their arms. A generation lies idle in a community struggling to re-establish its identity and sense of self.

For Dempsey, people and place are King. His voice is Dublin yet wholly distinctive, almost clichéd to say it, but he is part of a rich bloodline of Irish singers from Luke Kelly to Ronnie Drew, Christy Moore to Andy Irvine. Their kin outside Ireland are Springsteen and Guthrie, Dylan and Marley.

In Almighty Love, Dempsey’s sense of place reaches out beyond Donaghmede and North Bull Island, where he first performed in public as a teenager, across the Irish Sea and further afield.

The locale is still in the lyrics. It’s there in the hauntingly poetical Chris and Stevie, a tribute to male bonding and grief. You can hear it in Canadian Geese - large migratory birds whose flight path took them past Dempsey's boyhood window. It’s there also in the references to railway tracks and waves, visible from the rooftops of Dempsey’s childhood home. Those railway tracks took Dempsey and his boyhood friends out into their own imaginations and he hasn’t forgotten.

Almighty Love goes on a journey of a different kind. Dempsey, at 37 years old, has already said so much about self and state that trying to plough over old ground wouldn’t have been artistically challenging or fresh. So instead, he has given us an album of confidence and maturity, which has a more global sound to it and a broader scope. It is at once bigger and quieter, still rallying against injustice, yet with a more reflective and thoughtful tone, communicated more widely.

Some of the anger of earlier albums has been refocused. Now, he is singing for himself, attempting to put in context his experience as an Irishman who has seen something of the world and learned more about himself.

It’s not that Almighty Love is a radical departure. It’s more an evolution on previous themes and concepts. The anthems are still there: Busting Outta Here, The Good and the Great, Community and Almighty Love.  

His generosity of spirit, affiliation with those in need and the downtrodden, and recognition of their suffering, remains. It prevails even when that preoccupation may shine a spotlight on aspects of modern society that are uncomfortable to face. Dempsey faces them, and himself, and us. Toe-to-toe.

So how do you describe Damien Dempsey’s music to someone who hasn’t yet been exposed to it? Take some reggae, fuse it with traditional Irish music, add in rock and folk and put it all through a grounded working class worldly aware yet caring consciousness, and you’re some bit of the way there.

Damien Dempsey is quite simply and unequivocally himself: Damo.

He’ll draw on Orwell and Kavanagh, on Chomsky and Joyce, but you probably won’t know that by listening to the album. It’ll just make sense if you happen to go looking for it.

In Almighty Love there are overt references to Gandhi, Marie Colvin, Tony Benn and Rosa Parks. There are themes of injustice and longing and loss, of heartache and hope, despair and adventure, excitement and childhood.

This is an album from a travelled man, from a singer who is still rooted in the local but not bound by the locale, and not afraid to stretch his geographic and vocal boundaries. He is reaching out beyond the Dublin shoreline of his youth and diving into a new artistic sea.

His vocal range too has broadened its strokes. The punch is still there, but it’s more personal and he’s now more likely to show than shove.

In Chris and Stevie, the refrain “I’m missing you today” is maybe not one a 20-year-old Dempsey could have or would have sung. Now he is a man who knows it’s good to cry. Men should cry more. It’s okay for men to cry. Crying and singing. Crying and healing.

“I feel the hate in my own land against me for who I am,” sings Dempsey in Born Without Hate.  He is taking the discussion he started with an earlier song, Colony, and stretching the theme.

Back then, he sung about how some colonisers took what wasn’t theirs.

Now, he sings about how quickly the colonised forget what they didn’t have.

Glorious revolutions can breed terrible evil and rage. Bob Marley understood that and London based poet and rapper Kate Tempest understands it too. She collaborates with rhythmical focus and fury on Born Without Hate, adding to the internationally grounded feel of the album.

Like all good songwriters, heartache is never far away. In Bustin Outta Here, Dempsey is breaking from a bad place. He’s done with beating himself up. Others will do that for him. Now he wants to heal.

There isn’t a preachy pose on this album. He doesn’t have to force his point home. This album is as subtle as a Damien Dempsey album gets and yet it feels bigger. After listening, kids will still look to him as a Rocky-type figure and adults will still turn to him for his particular poeticism.

Of course, with any Damien Dempsey album, there’s politics. Or at least in this case, there is political thought. People have come to expect Damien Dempsey to say something about today, about the world, about us.

On Moneyman, he rails against the banking bureaucrats who have mortgaged entire nations for decades to come. He says it as it is, but manages to do so in a way that sets it in a historical and social context, which is relevant, and above all, real.

Ultimately then this is an album of grounded hope, both personal and national.

Making Almighty Love was a long and careful process. Damien worked with long-term collaborator John Reynolds, who is an internationally recognised producer. This is their fifth album together, and theirs is an instinctive and homely artistic relationship, and it shows.

Of the 100 or so songs earmarked for the album, they chose nine originals and one cover – Andy Stewart’s Fire in the Glen, which Damien was singing in the kitchen late one night and it stayed in the air and drifted into the studio.

Sinéad O’Connor, one of the greatest voices of her generation, adds backing vocals, but gives without taking. Her voice alongside Damien's makes sense in their mutual authenticity and authority. They both have something to say and they give each other the space to say it. Symbiotic is probably the technical term.

All that is mighty about Dempsey Dempsey is on this album. We hear the universality of the man and his concerns, are invited to connect with his accessibility, and can't help but be lured by his unique vocals and particular rhythms.

This is an artist who has grown up and is self-confident enough to do it his way.

The fist and the fragility: that’s perhaps how you could best sum up the lyricism of Almighty Love. It’s Dempsey singing from the heart and soul as he always does, but there’s maturity reflected in the lyrics now as well as a resignation, a brave emotional openness and an easing of unease in his own skin.

THE STORY SO FAR

Damien’s debut album in 2000, ‘They Don’t Teach This Shit in School’ set him apart as a unique and important voice, championed from an early stage in his career by Sinéad O’Connor and others. The follow-up, ‘Seize the Day’, released in 2003, marked the beginning of his relationship with producer John Reynolds, picking up many awards and leading to extensive international tours. Commercial and critical success continued with the release of the No. 1 album ‘Shots’ in 2005, backed by Brian Eno, and ‘To Hell or Barbados’ in 2007, which debuted at No.2 in the Irish charts.

Damien’s fans include Brian Eno, Sinéad O’Connor, Bob Dylan and U2, (both of whom he has shared a bill with), and Morrissey, who invited him to support him on his US tour. Damien is an award-winning artist, having won several prestigious Irish Meteor Awards including Best Irish Male and Best Traditional Folk Award. His albums have topped the charts and gone Platinum, and he has been lauded by, among others, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, Billboard, MOJO and The Sunday Times.

Since the release of his last album, Damien’s creativity has found other outlets also. One notable project was with Irish graffiti artist Maser, on a project entitled ‘They Are Us’. This was sparked by Dempsey’s lyrics, and involved the painting of his words on derelict buildings in Dublin. Sales of the limited edition prints raised funds for The Simon Community, which was a charity set up to help the homeless and disenfranchised in Dublin and elsewhere.

Dempsey’s charitable work continued in December 2010, when he and Oscar winning songwriter Glen Hansard recorded and performed the Irish folk classic, ‘The Auld Triangle’. Monies raised went towards the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SVP) ‘Keep The Lights On’ Campaign.

Last year, Damien also made his acting debut in the Irish feature film ‘Between The Canals’. His music is also proving very much in demand for soundtracks, with ‘Sing All Your Cares Away’ featured in the BAFTA Award winning film ‘Tyrannosaur’, while Damien contributes to two upcoming Irish films "Stalker" and "King of the Travellers".

Since his first live outings in the mid-1990s, Damien’s gigs have seen him wow audiences across the globe, and his performances have taken on a spiritual and soulful quality. These outings have been captured on two recordings: Live at the Olympia and Live from Vicar Street. Most recently, when asked who was on his hit list of artists for the main stage of the Sydney Opera House, music director Fergus Linehan listed Damien among his targets for one of the most renowned stages in the world. Irish and UK audiences will get a chance to witness that live power once again later this year when he embarks on an extensive tour, while next year he takes his live act to the United States and Australia.

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‘Jacob’s been a friend for decades. Almost as long as I’ve been playing the recorder, I’ve been playing Jacob’s music. Perhaps because I first met and loved him when I was little, his voice feels like my instrument’s mother tongue. Jacob’s simple melodies were so sweet for my young fingers. In adolescence, his music expressed things I couldn’t, yet meant with all my being. Jacob was there in my learning-my-craft years, his music urging me through the long, solitary practice tunnel. Nowadays I’m discovering expressive sides of him I didn’t recognise earlier ... He died centuries ago, but he’s shaped me.’Australian recorder virtuoso Genevieve Lacey returns to the music of Dutch composer Jacob van Eyck in a new album on ABC Classics.Born blind at the end of the sixteenth century, Van Eyck came to be hailed as ‘the Orpheus of Utrecht’ in his lifetime and is now regarded as one of the most significant musicians of his generation. As well as being an expert organist, he spearheaded technical and musical developments in bell-ringing, and was appointed as Director of the Carillons of Utrecht in 1628. He is best remembered, however, for his collection of works for solo soprano recorder ‘Der Fluyten Lust-hof’ (The Flute’s Pleasure Garden) – a collection of over 140 melodies and variations, with themes sourced from popular folk songs, psalms and memorable tunes of the time. Van Eyck was famously given a pay rise to wander through Janskerkhof public gardens in the evenings, to entertain passers-by on ‘his little flute’ (as the recorder was then called). Line Drawings compiles some of Genevieve Lacey’s favourite works from this collection.The album cover and booklet feature stunning drawings by Brook Andrew, inspired by Van Eyck’s music.
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A musical accompaniment to the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ exhibition Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age – Masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum.The world of Rembrandt wasn’t just a golden age for art. Music resounded in the taverns, homes, courts and churches of the Dutch Republic, and the country’s rich trading networks introduced sounds and influences from across Europe. This collection provides a panoramic display of that music, championing old masters and uncovering neglected gems.On this album, we encouncter the major composers of the Dutch Republic where Rembrandt lived and worked: the blind carillonneur and recorder virtuoso Jacob van Eyck; the great organist Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, who shaped so much of Amsterdam’s culture; and the now virtually unknown Sybrandus van Noordt.But Europe during Rembrandt’s life was becoming a smaller place, with cultural developments crossing borders, and manuscripts, skills and influences carried from country to country by the burgeoning Dutch trade network – and so we also hear music from Spaniards, Italians and Bohemians.Together, these sounds make up a rich tapestry as diverse in style and subject as the astonishing art of the Dutch Golden Age.Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age is showing from 11 November 2017 to 18 February 2018 at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au)TRACKLISTING1. KAPSBERGER Canarios2. VAN EYCK Divisions on ‘Daphne’3. SWEELINCK Hodie Christus natus est4. VAN EYCK Boffons5–7. BIBER Rosary Sonata No. 2 ‘Visitatio’8. VAN NOORDT Sonata in G minor, Op.1 No.49. JC BACH Ach, daß ich Wassers genug hätte10. DU MONT Allemanda Gravis à 411. SWEELINCK Fantasia chromatica in Dorian mode SwWV 25812. ANON. arr. SWEELINCK Hoe schoon lichtet de morghen ster13.-16. BUXTEHUDE Trio Sonata in D minor, Op. 1 No. 617. BERNHARD Was betrübst du dich18. SALAVERDE Canzon a due, canto e basso19. SCHÜTZ Selig sind die Toten20. SCHMELZER Sonata ‘Cucu’
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Australia’s favourite contemporary vocal ensemble, the multi-ARIA-winning The Idea of North, presents its first-ever orchestral collaboration. A World of Christmas brings together the group’s dazzling harmonies with full symphonic textures in an irresistible new festive offering – The Idea of North’s twelfth album.Joined by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and recorded live in concert at Melbourne’s Hamer Hall, A World of Christmas highlights some of the many ways in which Christmas is celebrated and experienced throughout the world. It brings together vibrant and festive songs and music from many cultures, including traditional carols and well-loved Christmas tunes.As a special treat for fans of The Idea of North, the album features the group’s newest addition, the internationally renowned vocal percussionist Kaichiro Kitamura – his incredible percussive flair cementing their recent upgrade to a quintet. Eadric Ayres makes a special guest appearance to narrate the hilarious Not Quite The Night Before Christmas, an irreverent ride through the great Christmas tunes that was commissioned especially for this album.A World of Christmas is the perfect album to usher in this holiday season!‘Full of good music, humour and fun’ –  ArtsHub‘The Idea of North are one of Australia's brightest cultural treasures. Go and see for yourself what the international fuss is about.’ – The Sydney Morning Herald The Idea of NorthMelbourne Symphony OrchestraBenjamin Northey conductorEoin Andersen concertmasterEadric Ayres narrator [track 9]---Experience A World of Christmas live in concert:The Idea of North with the West Australian Symphony OrchestraPerth Concert Hall, Friday 8 December 2017www.idea.com.au 
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The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo returned to the iconic Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle in 2017 for its 68th season as it celebrated Splash of Tartan. ABC Classics is proud to announce the Australian release of the Splash of Tartan CD recorded live at Edinburgh.Welcoming a cast of more than 1,200 performers from all points of the compass, including over 250 pipers and drummers, five United Kingdom military bands drawn from across the three Services, as well as plenty of other surprises along the way – The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is one of the greatest shows on earth!This year’s programme paid rich tribute to the UK’s maritime heritage and the Royal Navy in this special year, with HMS Queen Elizabeth now on sea trials and HMS Prince of Wales in build.Also encompassing Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, the 2017 Tattoo reflected on Scotland’s links across the globe and showcased some of its finest musical traditions with outstanding performances from the Tattoo Dance Company and the Hjaltibonhoga – The Shetland Fiddlers.Joined by acts from France, the United States, India, and – for the first time ever – Japan, the 68th Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, brought cast and audience from all over the world together to celebrate another extraordinary year. 
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Complete performances of three timeless classics, presented by The Australian Ballet. The Australian Ballet’s Tchaikovsky Collection brings together three iconic ballets in acclaimed performances: Graeme Murphy’s celebrated production of Swan Lake; Peter Wright’s The Nutcracker, hailed as one of the world’s most enchanting productions; and The Sleeping Beauty from The Australian Ballet’s Artistic Director David McAllister.---Graeme Murphy’s Swan LakeFeaturing Madeleine Eastoe, Robert Curran and Danielle Rowe. Filmed 2008. It’s a familiar tale – a love triangle between a princess, her prince, and a woman with a prior claim on his heart. Murphy’s choreography is at once an homage to the grandeur of 19th-century classicism and an invigorating update that speaks compellingly to the audiences of today.David McAllister’s The Sleeping BeautyFeaturing Lana Jones, Kevin Jackson, Amber Scott and Lynette Wills. Filmed 2015. A majestic production of this timeless classic. With lavish sets and costumes by award-winning designer Gabriela Tylesova, this ballet spills over with fairies, princes, nymphs and storybook characters.Peter Wright’s The NutcrackerFeaturing Benedicte Bemet, Andrew Killian, Kevin Jackson and Madeleine Eastoe. Filmed 2014. Sugar plums and snowflakes, dreams and spells – Peter Wright’s The Nutcracker is one of the world’s most acclaimed productions. Sumptuously staged and set to Tchaikovsky’s renowned score, this ballet is a truly magical experience for the whole family.
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The Australian Chamber Orchestra and ABC Classics present the first Australian-produced classical vinyl for two decades, featuring the world-premiere recording of Water by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood.Water was written following Greenwood’s stint as the ACO’s Composer in Residence in 2012. Its inspiration is Philip Larkin’s poem of the same name, which alludes to a glass of water ‘where any-angled light would congregate endlessly’. Scored for strings, flutes, keyboard, piano and two Indian tanpura, it takes the form of a continuous 15-minute movement.Premiered as part of the ACO’s UK tour in 2014, Water was an instant success, hailed for its ear-opening musical colours. It is presented here in a live recording from the Sydney Opera House.The LP format inspired the pairing with Mozart’s ubiquitous Eine kleine Nachtmusik. ‘We have chosen an outrageous combination of works that you would never consider pairing, unless it were on an LP,’ says Richard Tognetti. ‘So consider this a curated, deliberate juxtaposition … The notion of surprise is paramount in offering these wildly contrasting works. But ‘a little night music’ is exactly what Jonny’s piece is. It’s something I would suggest you play once the sun sets, for its hypnotic drone-like structure presents something that really works best as daylight fades away…’The resurgence of vinyl has been well documented. Giving both a superb aural experience and a satisfying tactile engagement, it has been for many a welcome response to our increasingly digital-focused world. The large-format cover is also an artistic opportunity, and for this release Australian photographer, ACO artistic collaborator and music devotee Bill Henson generously provided one of his most evocative works.Side AJONNY GREENWOOD (b. 1971)Water [15’41]Side BWOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756–1791)Serenade No.13 in G Major, KV525 Eine kleine Nachtmusik [15’28]
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Following on from the popularity of previous volumes, ABC Kids has brought together a mix of the best-loved and most popular Christmas tunes on one superb album. Featuring a beautiful mix of Christmas classics such as ‘Deck The Halls’ and ‘Sleigh Ride’, Aussie favourites including ‘Christmas On The Station’ and ‘Aussie Jingle Bells’ and a smattering of festive tunes from The Wiggles, Jay Laga’aia, Sesame Street, Bananas In Pyjamas and many more beloved members of the ABC Kids family.
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Featuring songs from all your ABC KIDS favourites including Justine Clarke, The Wiggles, Teletubbies, Play School, Giggle and Hoot and more,  Let’s Play! is jam-packed with 40 wonderful tunes that children will love singing and dancing along to throughout the summer.
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A richly textured songbook that swings effortlessly from the cigar-and-rum-perfumed atmosphere of Old Havana to the humid abandon of Kingston’s heaving nightclub scene, Havana Meets Kingston weaves together Spanish-language ardour and entrancing Jamaican patois, spinning a musical web that transcends language – speaking to nothing so clearly as hips and heart, in equal measure.The first single ‘Carnival’ (featuring British-Jamaican singer Randy Valantine and Cuban singer Solis) was released in February, making waves across the UK and Europe. It remains in the Global Reggae and iTunes (World Music) charts with BBC’s David Rodigan a big supporter.HAVANA MEETS KINGSTON brings together established and emerging Cuban and Jamaican musicians in an album of all mostly original songs, as well as covers of classic Cuban material. The main recording sessions took place over 10 days in June 2015 at the famous Egrem Studio in Havana, Cuba. Savona personally flew seven Jamaicans into Havana for these sessions, including Sly & Robbie, Boopee and Bongo Herman among other greats. In the studio they joined Buena Vista Social Club musicians Barbarito Torres and Rolando Luna, alongside Cuba’s most influential percussionist Changuito (Los Van Van) and many more. 
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Slava Grigoryan’s acclaimed Bach journey continues with the second volume of the Cello Suites.Volume I – released in November 2016 – has entered recording history through its phenomenal success, receiving global critical acclaim and multiple awards (including the 2017 ARIA Award for Best Classical Album), and smashing the record for the longest spell at the top of the Classical Chart.Grigoryan again chooses the richly resonant baritone guitar for Volume II, whose lower pitch allows the Suites to be performed in their original keys. The Sixth Suite was, however, originally written for an instrument a fifth higher than the cello – the same degree higher as a classical guitar from the baritone. As such, Grigoryan performs the Sixth Suite on a standard classical guitar.The musical challenges of these three Suites are considerable. In the Fourth and Fifth, Bach’s musical writing is often dense and detailed, requiring astonishing dexterity, particularly when played on the guitar; there are also moments of deep emotion, most notably the incredible Sarabande of Suite No.5. In the Sixth, the music emerges into sheer joy, with cadenza-like moments which revel in exuberant virtuosity.To record Volume II, Grigoryan returned to the UKARIA Cultural Centre in the Adelaide Hills. Reflecting on his experience of living with and recording this defining music, Grigoryan said:‘What can I say that hasn’t been said about the Cello Suites before? I’m constantly staggered by the universe of ideas in each movement of every Suite. The simplicity, the elegance, the structure and the spirit are simply breathtaking. It’s been such an honour to play this music. I know that, over time, there will be many changes as I continue to play them in live performances, but I also know that that’s kind of the point: there will never be a perfect version, just a long-term relationship with notes on a page that trigger feelings and emotions on a deeply profound level for the musician attempting to communicate through them.’PRAISE FOR BACH CELLO SUITES VOLUME IWinner – ARIA Award for Best Classical Album, 2017Winner – AIR Award for Best Independent Classical Album, 2017‘Grigoryan’s Bach has been well-worth the wait. Thank goodness the second instalment is being recorded this year’ ★★★★½ – Limelight Magazine‘An absorbing new angle on some of the greatest music-as-music our culture has.’★★★★ performance | ★★★★★ recording quality – BBC Music Magazine (UK)13 weeks at number one, ARIA Classical Chart – the record for an Australian albumTRACKLISTINGJOHANN SEBASTIAN BACHCello Suites · Volume II 1–6. Cello Suite No. 4 in E-flat major 7–12. Cello Suite No. 5 in C minor 13–18. Cello Suite No. 6 in D major Slava Grigoryan baritone and classical guitars
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To celebrate AusMusic Month, ABC Jazz presents a collection of the finest jazz performances of the past 18 months, as recorded by the ABC in live performances and in the studio.The recordings span the length and breadth of the country, and showcase a who’s who of the Australian jazz scene at the moment, from established names like vocalist Trish Delaney-Brown, bassist Sam Anning and pianist Mark Fitzgibbon, to rising stars Joe O’Connor, Matthew Nicholls and Olivia Chindamo.ABC Jazz has long supported the development of new talent, and this album showcases some of the recordings made as celebrations of significant award wins. The Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra perform Kelly Ottaway’s Donald English, the winning piece from the 2016 National Big Band Composition Competition; Matthew Nicholls celebrates his James Morrison Scholarship with two studio tracks; Emma Stephenson records hot on the heels of her Jann Rutherford Memorial Award; and Sam Anning can be heard celebrating his National Jazz Awards win.
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WINNER: Best Jazz Album – 2011 ARIA AwardsElixir is a trio of friends and musicians -- multi-platinum selling songstress Katie Noonan, outstanding saxophonist Zac Hurren and the highly-regarded jazz guitarist Stephen Magnusson. Each artist brings to the project an individual style and potency. The result is an improvised folk and jazz-inspired blend of music. Drawing inspiration from the likes of Nick Drake and Joni Mitchell, Elixir has always been about poetry, set to music. On this album, the works of celebrated poet Thomas Shapcott are Elixir’s key ingredient.“Our aim,” explains Katie, “is to make gentle, intimate music.”Elixir will cast a spell on you…“like a samurai sword through silk….this enchanting, honest, intimate album can’t fail” – The Mercury“Serenely ethereal” – The AustralianKatie Noonan | vocalsStephen Magnusson | electric, steel and nylon string guitarsZac Hurren | soprano and tenor saxophonesSee Elixir live in concert with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra: 2 – 4 November 2017Visit www.sydneysymphony.com for more information.