CSO Mixtape: Nature

[blockquote author=”Freyja Meany, CSO Viola”]

Grab your favourite choice of beverage, gaze at a beautiful view and enjoy this eclectic playlist of music worth exploring.


Freyja Meany playing the viola
Freyja Meany, CSO Viola (Image: Hannah Cui)

Freyja Meany grew up in Canberra, before moving to Sydney to attend the Sydney Conservatorium High School. She went on to complete her Bachelor of Music (Performance) at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in 2019, studying with Roger Benedict. During her studies, Freyja was awarded the Vasanta Scholarship and the Vice Chancellor Global Scholarship, which gave her the opportunity to attend the International Viola Congress held in Rotterdam as a Young Performing Delegate in 2018.

A keen orchestral and chamber musician, Freyja has had the delight of working with the Canberra Symphony, Australian Youth and ANAM orchestras, Ensemble Apex and the Melbourne Philharmonic. She is the Principal Violist of the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra.

Freyja is also a founding member of Rubus Trio, a flute, viola and harp trio that has performed and toured regularly, including an extensive South Coast and Southern Highlands tour. Rubus Trio has also been at the International Chamber Festival in Townsville. Freyja teaches viola and violin privately and has held tutoring positions for chamber music programs and school-based string and orchestral programs.


William BARTON
Improvisation, 7/8 Not Too Late

William Barton Didgeridoo
Delmae Barton Vocals
John Rodgers Violin
Kurilpa String Quartet

(Album: Birdsong at Dusk)

To me, this album reaches into your heart and gathers your soul and asks it to pay attention.

[blockquote author=”William Barton, Composer”]

I was inspired to write Birdsong at Dusk at a friend’s beach house in Mango Avenue in Mackay, in far north western Queensland. The waves of the ocean were floating upon the sand while the birds were singing their song. With a piano close to the veranda, I began to write: overlooking the inlet on a low tide, the sun drifting to meet the sky, I listened to the birdsong at dusk.


Elegy op. 15

Helen Callus Viola
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

This piece holds a special place in my heart as I performed it in my final university recital with some of my dear friends.

What What What

Caoimhin Ó Raghallaigh Hardanger d’Amore

This piece is played on the ethereal ten-stringed fiddle the composer calls a Hardanger d’Amore (An instrument that combines elements of a hardanger fiddle and a viola d’amore).

Suite In Old Style: Prelude: Fanfare From The Balconies
1. Through Mirrored Corridors

Maxim Rysanov Viola
Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra

I fell in love with Tabakova’s compositions after hearing her music played as part of a ballet performance. The composer is quite a champion of the viola; last year, I immensely enjoyed learning her Pirin for solo viola.

This lively first movement evokes glimpses of an eighteenth-century aristocratic household, with touches of jazz sparkling their way through the viola solos.

Suite String Trio
First movement

Prism String Trio

I had so much fun learning this unusual string trio at the Mt Buller chamber music summer school with my brother Liam and Madeleine Retter.

This triumphant first movement is very evocative of the undulations and swells of the sea. This may or may not have something to do with the composer’s naval background.

2. Eize Hu Chacham?

Lior Vocals
Sydney Symphony Orchestra

I was so blessed to see the premiere of this important work at the Sydney Opera House when I was in high school, such a moving inspirational experience.

Later it was with so much delight that I was able to work under Nigel Westlake with Willoughby Symphony.

Would you like to take a walk?

Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong Vocals


In times of stress or worry, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong are like balm to me. They’re gorgeous and joyous!

Distant Green Valley

I love the way Silk Road Ensemble embraces music as a universal language and brings that to the forefront of their ethos. The ensemble creates works that draw upon the diverse cultural backgrounds and heritage of its members.

Lament for 2 Violas H. 101/2

Richard Yongjae O’Neill, Soo-Min Lee Viola

Viola + viola = chocolatey goodness!

La Muerte del Angel

I was extremely fortunate to be part of TangOz for several years, in which time I played this piece. After the opening of the piece, which consists of staggered entries from each instrument, listen out for the walking bass line in the double bass and piano parts.

The Legend of Ashitaka (Ending)

This movie and piece are both worthwhile emotional rollercoasters!

Les Jours tristes – Instrumental

(from Amelie)

Whether you have seen the film Amelie or not, to me this song evokes a sense of curiosity and wonder. Imagine you are leisurely riding a bike around a place you have never been, the sun is shining gently on your back and you are just soaking in the enjoyment and excitement of not knowing what will be around the next bend.


Briefly introduce yourself – tell us your name, your instrument, where you’re living and how you’re connected to the CSO.

Hello! My name is Freyja Meany and I am a casual violist with the Canberra Symphony Orchestra. I’ve recently moved back to my hometown of Canberra after completing a bachelor’s degree in Sydney.

Name four careers you could see yourself in if you weren’t a musician (and tell us why).

If I weren’t a musician I may have become a vet or some other carer of animals; a creative in another field, like fine art or design; a therapist of some kind; or a teacher in a different subject.

Do these pieces bring to mind any particular memories or associations?

This mixtape contains a number of pieces I have had the delight of playing. For example, Debussy’s Sonata for flute, viola and harp is a regular for Rubus Trio, a group formed with two of my university colleagues, Hannah Cui and Rowan Phemister.

Are there any assumptions about these composers that you’d like to challenge?

Jean Cras is a relatively unknown composer – he was a naval officer for the majority of his life and his travels led him to include cultural references in his writing. He was also a lover of cats!

Describe a memorable music experience you enjoyed as an audience member.

In 2018, I participated in the Rotterdam International Viola Congress. There were a number of incredible violists among the featured artists, including Nobuko Imai, Lawrence Power, Attar Arad, Kim Kashkashian and Timothy Ridout. So much viola stardom in one place; heaven!

Tell us about your favourite performance space.

I really enjoy performing concerts in Sydney’s Chatswood Concourse with the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra. On stage, you are able to clearly look out at all the audience and choir, making for a very inclusive and shared experience for performers and audience alike.

Another very special concert space I performed in was the Powerhouse Museum, under a giant suspended moon, with the vibrant Ensemble Apex.

Name three places in Canberra that hold some significance for you.

Llewellyn Hall holds so many incredible musical memories for me. It’s where I attended my first Australian Youth Orchestra National Music Camp, where I watched my beautiful grandmother sing in her favourite choirs, and, of course, it’s the wonderful space where the CSO performs.

I have very fond childhood and adult memories attached to Commonwealth Park, the surrounds of Lake Burley Griffin and the National Museum of Australia.

What advice would you give to a younger version of yourself?

Don’t worry so much about what happened in the past – if it was different you wouldn’t be where you are today.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read recently?

My most recent read was a recommendation from my grandfather: Superpower, Australia’s Low-Carbon Opportunity by Ross Garnaut. I found it an extremely thought provoking and revealing book and would highly recommend it to anyone.

What’s something you love that has nothing to do with music?

When I am not playing music, some of the things I love to do include making art, being out in nature, learning new things and patting animals.

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