There is nothing silly about art song -“ and it can be argued there is little seriousness about cabaret. So what happens when the two music styles meet? Pianist Sally Whitwell and soprano Nadia Piave have been working on an answer for years.

Nadia and I met at the Conservatorium in the graduate school, Sally told Sydney Star Observer.

I had to do an art song recital as part of my assessment, and my teacher said, -˜You could always try Nadia,’ and I thought, -˜That sounds ominous.’ So I approached her and she started talking about all of this theatrical stuff and I thought, -˜Well, this could work.’

Art song has a quite daggy reputation for being staid and boring. Fat lady sings, standing up the front, and has a lovely accompanying pianist and they bow and walk off. But Nadia wasn’t like that. She kind of changed my mind and we decided to get more creative with it.

That was about seven years ago. Since then both women have forged their own musical careers while working together off and on. Sally is well known to some of the more vocal members of the queer community as the former pianist of the Gay and Lesbian Choir -“ a gig she’s had to give up reluctantly because of touring commitments.

Nadia and Sally’s on-stage chemistry -“ whether it be a knowing look, or a shared descent into camp -“ comes from this working history, as well as their shared appreciation of what it means to be musicians.

We have a similar approach to why we’re into music, Sally says. Because we have that similar approach we work well together -“ and we also have a lot of fun doing it.

Art Song And Cabaret is a collection of new songs and some the pair have performed before. Sally, who professes a small desire to be Noel Coward, says the show is both slightly camp and slightly outrageous. And there’s just a hint of audience participation, but of an entirely non-scary kind.

Art Song And Cabaret comes to the Dome Room at the Arthouse Hotel, 272 Pitt St, Sydney, at 8pm Tuesday 27 July. Tickets are $25 or $20 (concession) including a glass of wine. Dinner packages are available, bookings essential. Art Song And Cabaret is part of Menage, Musica Viva’s concert series for the socially inclined. Book through Musica Viva on 8394 6666.

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