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Drew McAlister

Drew McAlister has long been recognised as one of the nation’s premier songwriters and performers. The former McAlister Kemp mainstay has penned hundreds of tunes, both with and for artists from Graeme Connors to Luke O’Shea to Tamara Stewart. He’s worked with U.S. songwriting royalty including Brett Jones (Jason Aldean), Brian Maher (Taylor Swift), and Dylan Altman (Tim McGraw), and performed alongside the cream of Aussie country talent: Beccy Cole, Sara Storer, Adam Brand, and countless others.

With second solo outing Black Sky, the versatile star shows off his trademark earthy, anthemic style as never before.

Recorded in Nashville with the cream of Music City’s mythic session players, Black Sky is a landmark release from the tireless husband and father of two, encompassing co-writes with longtime creative foil Alan Caswell, along with Kaylens Rain’s Glen Harrison, and Caitlyn Shadbolt.
Drew McAlister’s sound is best described, as the singer himself puts it, as ‘organic country rock’: music that moves us both to celebrate life’s greatest joys, and to reflect upon the challenges that confront us all. Black Sky showcases eleven soaring anthems of resilience and love, anchored throughout by McAlister’s incisive reflections on the lessons that bind us together as a people.

“It had to tick two boxes,” McAlister says of the album’s driving purpose. “It had to have an energy about it, but it still had to have that songwriter element to it, as well. I still wanted to tell a story – that’s the thing I’ve always loved about country music: the story element. There’s still that message in the songs here, but I also wanted them to translate live.”

After winning the Gympie Muster’s prestigious Maton Talent Search in 2003, McAlister netted his first Golden Guitar in 2007, taking home the Vocal Collaboration of the Year Award for ‘A Little Bit of Country in Us All’ with Alan Caswell. He’s since collected Golden Guitars for Song Of The Year and Heritage Song of the Year (for Luke O’Shea co-write ‘Lady of the Land’), and garnered scores of APRA, TIARA, and Victorian National Country Music Awards wins and nominations.

Ramping up the intensity of careworn solo debut There to Here (2008), Black Sky builds on an enviable creative bedrock.
McAlister Kemp’s three-album run firmly established McAlister as one of Australian country music’s enduring greats. All Kinds of Tough (2010), Country Proud (2012), and Harder to Tame (2014) stormed the ARIA Country and Mainstream Albums Charts, spawning irrepressible radio favourites such as “It Don’t Buy You Love”, “Something to Build On”, and anti-bullying anthem “Fight Me”, along with a slew of Number 1 hits including “All Kinds of Tough”, “Hell Yeah”, and “Hard Work”. Along the way, MK picked up a Golden Guitar for Best New Talent, took out the 2011 CMC Music Award for Best New Oz Artist, performed at Nashville’s CMA Fest, opened for the legendary Alan Jackson on the megastar’s sold-out 2011 Australian tour, and joined country music giants Big & Rich on the road in the U.S.
“With Black Sky, I said right from the beginning that I wasn’t going to stray too far from McAlister Kemp,” McAlister says. “Because I wrote a lot of those songs, and I love them – they’re a part of me. You’ve got to have those songs that people feel like they’ve lived.”

Lead single “Black Sky” thunders like the elusive stormclouds longed for by its everyday heroes.

‘Sweat drippin’ from a young man’s brow, he’s workin’ hard and he’s workin’ it out. Keeps an eye on the sky above, but it never comes.’

“I wanted to go back to my roots with the first single,” McAlister explains. “Both of my parents came from properties outside Garah, which is just outside of Moree – so my history is from the land. I still remember stories that mum and dad told me about growing up on the land, and also about the tough times with the drought.”

The infectious “In a Band” honours those aspects of a musician’s life that fuel McAlister’s creative fire.

“The one true thing, the one really real, organic and honest thing about music is, first, the creation of it, and then the actual performing of it,” McAlister says. “That hour-and-fifteen-minutes on stage is still like nothing else you can ever do. ‘In a Band’ captures a bit of that journey.”

Soul-steeped anthem “Storm Front” harnesses organ, chiming keys and tearing guitars, serving as a timely reminder that the most important of life’s labours is the protection of those things we hold most dear – whatever the cost.

A nod to festival favourites such as Dierks Bentley and Zac Brown Band, “Til Summer Slips Away” is another anthem: this time to long summer days and balmy nights filled with cold beer and easy living.

Driving country rock statement “Bills” is the first of several tracks to consider both the pressures and simple joys of family life. It’s a theme reprised by the intensely personal “Miracle on the Way”.

“‘Miracle on the Way’ is about my wife and I having our first daughter, Jessica,” McAlister explains. “Both of my girls were IVF, and with Jess it was like, man, we don’t care if it’s a boy or if it’s a girl, we’re just happy to have a baby! And it literally was a miracle.”

At once delicate and powerful, “Last Night on Earth” introduces stirring strings to the mix, while the sensuous, radio-ready “You Get Me” gives thanks for the constancy, love and support of a tireless life companion.

There’s driving country rock in barroom stomp “More To It”, and a cautionary tale of youthful rebellion and escape gone wrong in the electrifying “Clyde”.

Black Sky is Drew McAlister at his rousing, honest best – a rare album of both formidable pedigree and boundless immediacy and heart. Above all, Black Sky is an album overflowing with stories of us.

Release
‘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.