Concert 2 of Murray River Music Festival 2020

Artists:  Shauntai Batzke (soprano), Stefan Cassomenos (piano), Monica Curro (violin) Michelle Wood (cello).

Date: Thursday 23 January 2020, 8:00 – 9:00 PM

Mildura Arts Centre


A program that explores life, and the journeys that fill its course, including Shauntai Batzki’s recently commissioned song cycle of “crossing to the otherside, from dreaming to knowing, exploring elements of the deep sea, eternal voice, promised lands and perfect love”.


Melbourne pianist and composer Stefan Cassomenos is one of Australia’s most vibrant and versatile musicians. He has been performing internationally since the age of 10, and is now established as one of Australia’s leading pianists. His concerto repertoire now exceeds thirty works, and has led to engagements with the Beethoven Orchestra Bonn, Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, Queensland Symphony Orchestra,  Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Victoria, and Melbourne Chamber Orchestra. In 2013, Cassomenos was a grand finalist and recipient of both the Second Grand Prize and the Chamber Music Prize in the prestigious International Telekom Beethoven Piano Competition Bonn (Germany). He has been a grand finalist and prize winner in various other competitions. He is also a composer: with three piano concertos, a double violin concerto, choir with ensemble, opera and other works performed in Australia and overseas. His new chamber opera Herodias, will be premiered by Victorian Opera in 2019.

Wiradjuri soprano Shauntai Batzke is one of Australia’s leading vocalists and a major emerging compositional voice in the Australian art music scene, migrating across genres. She made her operatic debut at the Sydney Opera House in 2010 in Pecan Summer, written by Deborah Cheetham AO, and featured in the role of “Old Alice” in 2011, 2012 & 2014. In 2014 and 2015 Batzke was the proud recipient of the Harold Blair Scholarship with the Melba Opera Trust after which she was invited by Belle Arti to New York in 2016 for further training. Other productions include The Beginning of Nature, (WOMADelaide 2016 with Australian Dance Theatre; RICERCAR (Present Tense Ensemble); Fidelio (Melbourne Opera); Showboat, and Ragtime (The Production Company), and Corrugation Road (Black Swan Theatre). In 2019, Shauntai was a featured emerging composer at the Port Fairy Spring Music Festival, and was commissioned by the festival to create two new song cycles, drawing on Wiradjuri heritage and First Nations languages, which received their world premieres to critical acclaim at the festival’s opening and closing concerts.

Violinist Monica Curro is currently in her 21st year as Assistant Principal 2nd Violin of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and was a core member of the Australian Chamber Orchestra for 5 years before that. She has played with Sydney, Queensland and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras, and was Guest Concertmaster of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and is also a member of the Australian World Orchestra. In 2009, Curro was honoured to be invited as the only Australian to play in the World Orchestra for Peace for a series of international performances in 2010, 2011 and 2014. Curro and Cassomenos are both founding member of acclaimed ensemble PLEXUS. Since launching in 2014, PLEXUS has commissioned and premiered more than 100 new works.

Cellist Michelle Wood was a founding member of the Melbourne-based Tin Alley Quartet, has performed as soloist and principal cellist with the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra and has been an acting Principal and Guest Associate Principal Cellist in both the Melbourne and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras respectively. She has also performed extensively internationally, including touring with the Australian World Orchestra in 2015 and 2018.



Stuart Greenbaum  –  800 Million Heartbeats (2007)
Stuart Greenbaum  –  Book of Departures (2008)
Shauntai Batzke  –  At Sea (2019)