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Cake followed by a chamber orchestra concert, what an irresistible combination.

The first Musica Viva Coffee Concert of the year was held recently at

North Sydney’s Independent Theatre, a superb venue for this delightful event. Morning tea began at 10am, followed by an hour of music from 11am, by The Goldner String Quartet, one of Australia’s greatest chamber ensembles, who thrilled the audience with Beethoven’s exquisite ‘Razumovsky’ Quartet op 59 no 2.

Another treat was their playing of ‘Interwoven’, created by emerging Sydney composer Elizabeth Younan, who was recently named Young Composer of the Year by Fine Music FM. ‘Interwoven’ was created as part of the Sydney Conservatorium’s National Women Composers Development Program.

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The entire 2017 season will feature The Goldner String Quartet, who will be bringing a couple of guests to the concerts. Musica Viva’s Artistic Director, Carl Vine AO said “Only once before, in 2012, did we devote an entire year of Coffee Concerts to these splendid musicians. It proved to be one of the most popular years since the series began.” Guest appearances by Australian pianist Piers Lane and virtuoso cellist Umberto Clerici will add to the appeal of the concerts.

The music was wonderful and I especially enjoyed the selection of delicious cakes. I must confess that I did try a few as they looked so inviting. I would recommend booking for the second concert in the series on 24 May 2017.

What a clever idea to hold the concert series in the daytime, when many people prefer to go out and at a venue that is easy to get to, with street parking available near by. I am amazed that more concert promoters do not follow Musica Viva’s lead.   Sandra Tiltman   Photos: John Pond



Paulini, one of Australia’s finest vocalists and performers, will play the leading role of Rachel Marron in the Australian premiere of the international award winning hit musical “The Bodyguard”. The Australian tour will open at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre on 21 April 2017, followed by seasons in Brisbane and Melbourne.

Based on the smash hit Warner Bros film which starred Whitney Houston as Rachel and Kevin Costner as Frank Farmer, the former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard, who is hired to protect superstar singer Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker. Each expects to be in charge, but what they don’t expect is to fall in love.

Australia first fell in love with Paulini and her impressive five octave range during the inaugural series of Australian Idol. One of her childhood idols was Whitney Houston and Paulini won the National Star Search Competition in her teens with her rendition of Whitney’s timeless classic “When You Believe”. The Fijian born singer songwriter went on to release three highly acclaimed albums and has collaborated with some of the world’s best music producers. With her incredible voice, stunning looks and engaging personality, Paulini is one of Australia’s most uniquely talented performers.

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Produced by John Frost, Michael Harrison and David Ian, “The Bodyguard” is written by the acclaimed, Oscar nominated screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan (Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Big Chill, The Empire Strikes Back) and features a book by Oscar winner Alexander Dinelaris (Birdman).

Kip Gamblin will be playing the role of bodyguard Frank Farmer, made famous by Kevin Costner. The principal cast also features Prinnie Stevens as Nicki Marron, alongside Andrew Hazzard as Sy Spector, Patrick Williams as Bill Devaney, Brendan Irving as the Stalker, Damien Bermingham as Tony and Glaston Toft as Ray Court.

Featuring many irresistible classics including One Moment in Time, Saving All My Love, Greatest Love Of All, I Wanna Dance With Somebody plus one of the greatest hit songs of all time, I Will Always Love You, the audience will probably be singing all the way home.

John Frost commented ““The Bodyguard” has been a huge hit everywhere it has played since its 2012 world premiere in London. I have no doubt Australia will fall in love with this iconic story and those soaring ballads all over again”.

Sydney: Lyric Theatre, The Star from 21 April 2017.

Performance Times: Tuesday 7pm, Wednesday – Saturday 8pm, Sunday 6pm.

Matinees: Tuesday & Wednesday 1pm, Saturday & Sunday 2pm.

Melbourne: Regent Theatre, 191 Collins Street from 24 August 2017.

Performance Times: Tuesday 7pm, Wednesday/Thursday 7.30pm, Friday/Saturday 8pm, Sunday 6pm.

Matinees: Tuesday & Wednesday 1pm, Saturday & Sunday 2pm.

Sandra Tiltman

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The Pyrmont + Mudgee Region Festival returns again in 2017 with a two-week program to showcase the best of both the Mudgee Region and Pyrmont.

Residing in the heart of Pyrmont from 13 – 27 May, visitors have the opportunity to experience both the country charm of the Mudgee Region, coupled with the best of the city, with many events and experiences on the menu including wine dinners and tastings, photographic exhibitions and art displays.

Participating Mudgee Wineries in this year’s festival include award-winning cellar doors Moothi Estate, First Ridge Wines, Manners Wines and newcomers Slowfox and Elephant Mountain Wines. Paired with Pyrmont eateries including Pizzaperta, The Apprentice and Pyrmont Point Hotel, visitors will enjoy the best Mudgee wines amongst Pyrmont and the harbourside city views as the perfect backdrop.

The highlight of the festival is the annual headline weekend event in the city’s award winning Pirrama Park on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 May. An event designed for the whole family, with live music, local and Mudgee region artists showcasing renowned Mudgee Sculptures, rides and children’s entertainment and approximately 100 stalls where guests can meet wine-makers, participate in tastings and sample a broad range of fine foods and regional produce.

The festival will conclude with the Pyrmont Growers Market, offering a diverse range of artisanal food from local producers and farmers against the iconic backdrop of Pyrmont Bay Park on 27 May.

The Pyrmont + Mudgee Region Festival is a product of regional collaboration between Mudgee Wine Association, Mudgee Region Tourism and Mid Western Regional Council, presented by Pyrmont Ultimo Chamber of Commerce with the City of Sydney. It is a unique opportunity for Mudgee Region to offer a taste of its award-winning country charm to city dwellers and Pyrmont, just two kilometres from the CBD, to demonstrate its position as one of Sydney’s fastest growing tourist, creative, cultural and dining precincts.

The Mudgee Region is the third largest grape-growing region in NSW and one of the oldest wine regions in the state. Just a 1.5-hour drive from the Blue Mountains, Mudgee can also be reached by plane from Sydney Airport via a 45-minute flight, with flights departing daily.
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The Star is Principal Partner for the Pyrmont Festival.


WHEN                       Saturday 13 – Sunday 27 May 2017

WHAT                        Pyrmont + Mudgee Region Festival 2017

A two-week festival showcasing more than 50 restaurants, wine bars, hotels, winemakers and artists from Pyrmont and the Mudgee Region. 

WHERE                     Pyrmont Festival dining precinct, with the headline weekend event, the Pyrmont & Mudgee Region Food & Wine Fair on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 May

PRICE: Free entry with wine tasting packages from $20  Charges applicable for wine-tastings, with wine packages from $20.

John Pond.

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Australian holidaymakers are invited to soak up some tropical sunshine in the Society Islands with Air Tahiti Nui offering sizzling deals to some of French Polynesia’s most idyllic destinations.

On sale until 24 April 2017, return economy flights from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane to Tahiti are priced from $1209* per person.

Meanwhile return economy flights to the sun-drenched shores of Huahine and the lush island of Raiatea are priced from $1609* per person.

Bora Bora is also on sale with return economy flights to the ‘Pearl of the Pacific’ starting from $1729* per person.

John Pond

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 Air New Zealand unveils spacious new seat design

Air New Zealand has just revealed a new Economy seat design at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg to be introduced on the airline’s Airbus A320/A321neo (new engine option) fleet.

The airline has worked with UK aerospace seating company Acro Aircraft Seating on the slim-line design, a key feature of which is wider seats.  The window and aisle seats will be one centimetre wider than those on the airline’s current international Airbus fleet, with the middle seat three centimetres wider ensuring a better sense of personal space across the row.

Air New Zealand General Manager Customer Experience Anita Hawthorne says the design of the new seat was customer-led with the airline and Acro keen to address key areas of customer feedback and further improve the inflight experience.

“The slightly wider middle seat helps balance out the fact that window and aisle seat customers enjoy a greater sense of space.  We currently have many customers who state a preference for window or aisle seats and it’s possible the new design may see the middle seat get a boost in popularity.

I (John Pond) believe there should be less seats with more comfort at a higher price. Every one would be a winner.

John Pond