September 24, 2016


Internationally acclaimed Australian pianist Sarah Grunstein will be performing J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations next month at concerts in Sydney and Melbourne. These two concerts, which are a rare opportunity to hear one of Australia’s finest international pianists, will be held at the Melbourne Recital Center on Thursday 20 October and the Sydney Opera House, Utzon Room on Tuesday 25 October.

The Melbourne Recital Center concert is presented by the Australian Bach Society and the Australian Friends of the Tel Aviv University (Victoria) whilst the Sydney Opera House concert is presented by the Australian Bach Society.

Praised by the New York Times for her “penetrating musical intelligence”, her performance “tempestuous” and “imbued with a luminous calm, Sarah has performed in the United States, Austria, Hungary, Italy, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and her homeland.

Many will remember Sarah Grunstein as the pianist who, as a young teenager, performed the soundtrack for Bruce Beresford’s early Australian film, “The Getting of Wisdom”. Soon after she moved to New York, graduating from The Juilliard School, where she was later appointed as a Teaching Fellow and earned her doctorate at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Sarah is passionate about performing Bach. From her early studies with Australian pedagogue Nancy Salas, she learned about 18th century styles, character, dance, emotion, and improvisatory performance. This was at a time when most people were still performing Bach in a very “rigid” way. Sarah remarks, “People ask me how I do what I do. I’ve studied and played a lot of Bach and have read much about 18th and 19th century style, not only musical style, but compositional style, improvisation, improvisatory performance and the language of various arts genres including dance, visual arts, and literature. Even though I am playing music that was composed for the harpsichord, I treat the piano as a piano and let my ‘pianist-voice’ speak. Keeping in my mind and heart Bach’s compositional language and what I believe was his creative intent, I go to town with it.”

In its demands of musicianship, keyboard technique and stamina, Bach’s Goldberg Variations is perhaps one of the most challenging works in the keyboard literature. Composed for a two-manual harpsichord, the work demands more of the pianist than even the harpsichordist. The pianist must negotiate the various “hand-crossings” (sometimes one hand directly on top of the other), a physical intricacy and contrapuntal overlapping of which the harpsichordist who would be playing on two manuals, is spared.

Sarah’s career has been marked by her magnetic charisma, musical intelligence and sublime expressivity. Passionate about engaging with audiences, her concerts will include her introductory talk with audiences about the Goldberg Variations.

A longtime Steinway Artist, Sarah’s career has included concerts at New York’s Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and London’s Southbank Centre.

Sandra Tiltman


August 14, 2016


Sydney seems to have a huge selection of bars, but hey, there’s always room for one more, especially at Circular Quay.

Inspired by the grand plantation architecture of Cuba and mixed with the luxury modern vintage hotels of 1950’s Miami, “Hacienda” is located in the Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour. With fabulous views of the Harbour Bridge and cruise ships docked at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, plus the many ferries darting around the harbour, Hacienda is a great place to relax with a cocktail, day or evening.


Sandra Tiltman enjoying a cocktail

I tried two of Hacienda’s signature cocktails during my recent visit, but I still can’t make up my mind as to which was my favourite. The “Bottled Mojito” of Blanco rum, crème de menthe, lime, mint, falernum, orange bitters and “Old Presidente” made from aged rum, orange curacao, house spiced raspberry syrup & Angostura bitters served in a smoked rocks glass had me wanting more. Both had my vote as being up there with some of the best cocktails I have tasted. Glad I had my designated driver by my side.

DSC09737 (1).jpeg

Great drinks are not all that’s on offer at Hacienda. Award winning Executive Chef Stefan Brademann is at the helm of the kitchen, with a menu inspired by Cuba’s traditional trading partners and their local, abundant ingredients, to create dishes unique to Hacienda. With Latin and American delights such as blackened rice crisps topped with crab & finger lime, scallop ceviche, Yucca fries with red pepper sauce, Cajun spiced grilled prawns and Hacienda’s signature Cuban Reuben of Cuban spiced homemade pastrami, smokey cheese & Marrickville pickles, Hacienada is a foodie venue as well as a bar.

Hacienda prides itself on sharp service, a stylish drinks selection and delicious food in a truly unique Sydney setting.

Sandra Tiltman      Photos: John Pond


May 14, 2016

Performing at The Studio, Sydney Opera House on 19 & 20 May 2016 is “Water Angel”, the fourth production of Can You See Me? Theatre, an initiative of Cerebral Palsy Alliance that brings together people with complex disabilities and able-bodied professional actors, to create a theatre performance based on the life and experiences of people with disabilities.

Emily Dash is an accomplished 25 year old with many achievements under her belt, from actor and public speaker to writer and now director, but what Emily finds difficult is that people often define her more by the fact that she has cerebral palsy. “It can be disappointing and frustrating to often be defined by others according to my limitations rather than my abilities and achievements,” said Emily. “I am much more interested in people setting high expectations for me – I’m keen to strive and reach for the stars.” That is exactly what Emily is doing through her assistant producing debut with the theatre production “Water Angel”.

Kylie Harris, the production’s director showing Emily the ropes, explains that “Water Angel” will open people’s minds to ideas about what brings joy and meaning to a life. “We have already achieved so much more than people thought was possible. Our long-term vision is hitting the stage in New York. Our performers are just as deserving as anyone to be on the world’s premier stages!” said Kylie.

Rob White, CEO of Cerebral Palsy Alliance believes Can You See Me? Theatre is breaking boundaries through its innovative approach and is vital to the wellbeing of people living with cerebral palsy, their families and the broader community.

Sandra Tiltman     Photo: John Pond


March 3, 2016


The Australian Ballet’s 2016 programme that features exciting new works alongside perennial favourites, blending timeless classics and contemporary works, will have wide appeal. The season brings audiences the return of such popular classics as “Coppélia”, “Swan Lake” and “Romeo & Juliet” plus world premiere works by rising ballet stars. A highlight of the season is the Australian premiere of the masterpiece “Nijinsky”.

Founded in 1962, The Australian Ballet has been delivering extraordinary performances for over 50 years and is one of the world’s leading ballet companies. From its earliest days, a commitment to artistic excellence plus a willingness to take risks have defined the company, both onstage and off. Moving effortlessly between great classical ballets and new contemporary commissions, the company has a unique Australian style, powered by artistry and athleticism. The company exists to inspire, delight and challenge audiences through the quality of its performances.


“Swan Lake”, a perennial favourite, returns with an encore of Stephen Baynes’ classic. This ageless ballet has enchanted audiences for a century and has special significance for the Company, as it was the first ballet ever danced by The Australian Ballet in 1962 at Sydney’s Her Majesty’s Theatre. “Swan Lake” performs in Sydney from 1-20 April.

“Vitesse”, a triple bill of modern dance, brings together three of the world’s most exciting contemporary choreographers, Christopher Wheeldon, Jirí Kylián and William Forsythe for a collection of cutting edge dance. “Vitesse” performs in Sydney from 26 April-16 May.

Exclusive to Sydney, “Symphony in C” is a mixture of classical and contemporary ballet, beginning with the black and white symmetry of a George Balanchine extravaganza, followed by a selection of ballet moments showing off the art form. Highlights include the world premiere of two new works by emerging choreographers and rising stars of The Australian Ballet, Alice Topp and Richard House. Performing April 2016.


A premiere work for The Australian Ballet and the centrepiece of the 2016 season, “Nijinksy”, tells the story of the 20th century’s greatest choreographer and male dancer, a visionary who changed dance forever. Russian born Nijinsky, the male star of Ballets Russes, was celebrated for his gravity defying leaps, virtuosity and unprecedented onstage intensity, but it was his sensual choreography that sparked outrage in theatres across Europe. The tragic story of the artist’s downward spiral is told through vivid memories unfolding in the dancer’s mind during his last performance at a Swiss hotel. Performs in Sydney 11-28 November.

“Coppélia”, a frothy fairytale, brings magic, romance and plenty of lavish costumes to the story of Dr Coppelius, an eccentric toy maker, who dreams of bringing his mechanical dolls to life. Performed in the 1962 inaugural season, “Coppélia” has an important role in the Company’s history. Performs in Sydney 2-21 December.

The Australian Ballet regularly tours overseas, including New York, Tokyo, London and Paris to critical acclaim and presents over 250 shows along with audience engagement events each year.

Sandra Tiltman


October 17, 2015

The Illusionists 1903 image

Audiences will be transported back to 1903 to experience the glory days of magic as they discover first hand the spectacles that transformed stage entertainment over 100 years ago, when “The Illusionists 1903” performs at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall for a strictly limited season from 19 to 29 December 2015.

Featuring brand new, world class Illusionists handpicked from across the globe, this new show takes the audience back to the time of Houdini and the Magic Circle, the golden age of magic, when conjurers were superstars.

Magical arts drawn from a treasure trove of long forgotten mysteries will be unveiled in exquisite, turn of the century grandeur at this larger than life production from the acclaimed creative team behind international hits The Illusionists and The Illusionists 2.0.

Showcasing some of the greatest and most dangerous illusions ever built, “The Illusionists 1903” will be one for the adrenaline lovers. Some of the jaw-dropping tricks to be featured will include a deadly bullet catch, amazing levitation and unbelievable mind reading. Audiences will watch in awe as the all star cast attempt to get one-up on each other, performing some of the most sophisticated tricks in the book and will also be amazed by the variety of interesting characters.

The Conjuress, mistress of the mystical, will highlight all that was beautiful and breathtaking during the Golden Age of Magic. Her mesmerising and peaceful presence will provide the perfect counterbalance to the more boisterous characters of the age.

The Eccentric is rooted in history as a part of the famed vaudevillian variety shows of the early 20th century, combining physical comedy with virtuosic skill and mastery, showcasing world class juggling and sleight of hand in an act that keeps audiences laughing and applauding all at once.

The “voice” of 1903, The Showman lives for the accolades of the crowd. Performing classic showstoppers such as the infamous and deadly bullet catch, his charisma and panache will charm the audience, embodying what gave golden age magicians their meteoric rise to fame and popularity.

The Escapologist will recreate the most iconic stunt in the history of magic, performing Houdini’s death-defying escape from the “Water Torture Cell”. Bound, shackled and submerged in water, audiences will witness the same near death experience that enthralled patrons wherever the Great Houdini performed.

The Immortal is the ultimate connoisseur of golden age magic, specialising in illusions that have stood the test of time. His montage of turn of the century grandeur includes the greatest levitation act in the world.

The old saying “There’s a sucker born every minute” may have been coined by P.T. Barnum, but “The Charlatan” has made it his mantra. Watch, but don’t be fooled by his simple, folksy demeanor, or you are likely to miss his tricky ways.

Sandra Tiltman


August 10, 2015


Sydney theatre lovers are in for a treat when the brand new Australian production of the smash hit musical comedy, “Anything Goes”, presented by leading Australian theatre producer John Frost and Opera Australia Artistic Director, Lyndon Terracini, plays at the Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House from 5 September 2015.

Cole Porter’s much loved musical features a hilarious tale of topsy-turvy relationships, mistaken identities and foiled plots, peppered with some of musical theatre’s most memorable standards including You’re The Top, De-Lovely, I Get A Kick Out Of You and of course the title song, Anything Goes.

Winner of three Tony Awards, including Best Musical Revival and Choreography during its most recent Broadway revival, “Anything Goes” is a stunning nautical favourite, hailed by The New York Times as “musical comedy joy” and called “glorious and exuberant” by USA Today,

AGJeff-Busby_2189_RDirected by Dean Bryant and choreographed by Andrew Hallsworth, it has just been announced that Gerry Connolly will play the Captain of the S.S. American in the Sydney Opera House season, following his success during the Melbourne and Brisbane seasons. Alan Jones has had to withdraw from the role, due to his increased radio and television commitments.

Connolly plays opposite Caroline O’Connor as evangelist turned nightclub singer Reno Sweeney; Todd McKenney as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh; Alex Rathgeber as young Wall Street broker Billy Crocker; Claire Lyon will be American debutante Hope Harcourt; Carmen Duncan in her musical theatre debut as Evangeline Harcourt; Wayne Scott Kermond as second-rate gangster Moonface Martin; Debora Krizak as Moonface’s girlfriend Erma and Bartholomew John as Wall Street banker Elisha J. Whitney.

For decades, “Anything Goes” has captivated millions with its story of madcap antics aboard the SS American. When the ocean liner embarks from New York to London, etiquette and convention get tossed out the portholes as two unlikely pairs set off on the course to find true love, proving that sometimes destiny needs a little help from a crew of singing sailors, an exotic disguise and some good old fashioned blackmail.

“Anything Goes” is a shining example of classic musical theatre, complete with amazing tap dancing, hilarious jokes, unlikely happy endings and of course, wonderful songs,” said Lyndon Terracini and John Frost. “After the overwhelming success of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific” and “The King and I”, a revival of “Anything Goes” featuring the dazzling music of Cole Porter seemed the obvious choice. Since its Broadway premiere, it has become one of the best loved and most revived musicals of all time.

Sandra Tiltman


July 15, 2015

image001The ticket for “Ghost Stories”, currently playing at the Drama Theatre at Sydney Opera House until 15 August, carries the warning “Latecomers Not Admitted, Under 12’s Not Permitted / Unsuitable for Under 15’s”.

If those words don’t prepare you for the possibility that you will be scared and frightened, the promise of a truly terrifying theatrical experience that is not for the faint hearted will. Those with a nervous disposition or any other medical conditions are advised to carefully consider their decision to attend.

Written by the masters of the macabre, Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman, “Ghost Stories” mixes the very best of theatre with all the thrills of a great horror film, taking you on a chilling journey, with no interval to spoil the tension.

Originally produced by the Liverpool Playhouse & Lyric Hammersmith (UK) before transferring to London’s West End, “Ghost Stories” has been spooking theatre goers in Toronto and Moscow. Now it’s Sydney’s turn to laugh and scream in equal measures. Despite nearly half a million people seeing the play, details of its plot and storyline are shrouded in secrecy. There’s only one way to know what happens in the show – see it for yourself.

Lynden Jones as Professor Goodman brings together the spooky tales experienced by John Gregg as Tony Matthews, Aleks Mikic as Simon Rifkind and Ben Wood as Mike Priddle.

I found some of the special effects were quite incredible and enhanced the tension.

Audience members who wish to experience the show’s thrill again, just need to take the back page of their programme, along with their used ticket, to the box office where they will receive a ticket for another performance.

Sandra Tiltman