XL Arts engages specialised industry professionals to conduct our professional development projects to ensure the knowledge and experience the participants of the projects receives is of a high standard and relevant to the current industry practices.
Our Artistic Director Liane Keegan and Musical Director/President Patrick Burns are at the fore front of our Project Masters.
Born in Australia, Liane received scholarships from the Opera Foundation Australia, Shell Royal Covent Garden Scholarship which enabled her to study at the National Opera Studio London. She attended the AIMS summer School in Graz Austria on the Opera Australia Foundation Scholarship and in 1997, she won a Bayreuth Bursary from the Wagner Society of Great Britain.
Since returning to Australia permanently in 2012, Liane has appeared with Melbourne Symphony Orchestra/BBC UK in The last night of the Proms singing Elgar’s Sea Pictures conducted by Sir Andrew Davis and as Albine in Thais by Massenet and as the Alto Soloist in Beethoven 9th symphony .The Royal Melbourne Philharmonic conducted by Andrew Wailes appearing in The Music Makers and Sea Pictures by Elgar. This concert is available on cd. Alto solo in Alexander Nevsky by Prokoviev and Erda in the RMP Wagner Spectacular. Liane appeared as Erda in Opera Australia’s Der Ring des Niebelungen in Melbourne in 2016. Alto soloist Mahler 8 Zelman Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mark Shiells. Liane appeared as Siegrune Die Walkure Act 3 in the reopening of Hamer Hall Gala Concert. Guest artist with Victorian Opera in the White nights Gala. Mary in Der Fliegende Hollander and as the Old lady and The Princess in Respighi’s Sleeping Beauty with Victorian Opera. Guest Artist with Ludovico’s Band singing Monteverdi arias and duets. Liane appears regularly as the Alto soloist with Heidelburg Chorale in such works as The Messiah, Rossini Petite Messe Solenelle and most recently in Elijah. Liane appears as Erda, 1st Norn and Waltraute Die Walkure on the 2004 Melba Records recording of the first Australian Ring Cycle conducted by Asher Fisch. 2018 engagements include, the roles of Edwige in William Tell, Genevieve in Pelleas and Mellisande with Victorian Opera. The Alto solo in Bernstein Symphony 1 and Mahler Rueckert Lieder and selections from Bernstein’s Broadway show tunes with Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
For Liane's full biography, follow the link to www.lianekeegan.com.au
Artistic Director - Dramatic Contralto
Patrick Burns was born in Sydney, Australia and studied French Horn and Conducting at the Melbourne and Queensland Conservatorium. In Australia, he is the chief conductor and music director of the Ipswich City Orchestra and XL Arts Inc. He is also the current Hephzibah Tintner Conducting Fellow with the Australian Ballet, Opera Australia, and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. In 2018, Patrick has conducted performances for the Australian Ballet with Orchestra Victoria, The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, and The Australian Opera Orchestra. He has also conducted Orchestra Victoria in a regional performance, and acted as Assistant Conductor to Simone Young with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. In 2019 he served as Assistant Conductor to Andrea Molino in Opera Australia’s production of Wozzeck.
Internationally he has made guest appearances with the National Theater of Serbia (Otello), State Opera of Bulgaria Ruse (Rigoletto, Nabucco, Turandot), and the Pazardzhik Symphony Orchestra in Bulgaria. In 2017, he was the assistant conductor with British Youth Opera and conducted the covers performance with the Southbank Sinfonia. He won the Jury’s Prize at the 2015 Blue Danube International Opera Conducting Competition in Bulgaria and the Orchestra’s Prize in 2016 Black Sea Opera Conducting Competition in Romania.
Aside from his professional engagements, Patrick has always had a passion for community music making. From 2010 to 2014 Patrick was the Music Director for the Monash University Chorale Society, and from 2011 to 2014 was also the Music Director for the Victorian Youth Symphony Orchestra. He has twice led the Queensland Wind Orchestra to win first place in the A Grade Australian National Band Championships in 2007 and 2014. He has worked with numerous community groups in Victoria including the Ballarat Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Citi Opera, Melbourne Opera, Opera Studio Melbourne, Preston Symphony Orchestra, and Stonnington Symphony Orchestra. In 2017 he started working for the inspirational School of Hard Knocks Association, working with several of their choirs across Melbourne. In 2018 he was the music director for the 69th Annual Intervarsity Choral Festival held Melbourne, which saw participants from university choral societies across come together to perform at the Melbourne Town Hall with the Melbourne Opera Orchestra and guest soloists.
For more information visit: www.patrickburnsconductor.com
Musical Director / Conductor
Previous Project Masters
Alan Cook is a conductor, opera coach, and musicologist with many years of experience across a wide range of operatic and symphonic repertoire who has been described as “producing a lush, richly coloured soundscape” at the podium. A Graduate of the VCA, he also studied conducting in Italy with Bruno Aprea of the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia and has performed in many countries including Austria, Italy, Spain, and Russia where he performed many masterpieces of Italian and Russian repertoire including the works of Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky and operas such as Aida, Elisir d’Amore, Cavalleria Rusticana, and Pagliacci. He also worked extensively as an opera coach to many international singers including at the Liceu Opera of Barcelona and was Principal Guest Conductor of orchestras in Ukraine and Russia for an extended period during which time he developed an expertise in Russian repertoire and language. He is currently in Australia studying a PhD in the operas of Rimsky-Korsakov. Recent performances include Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto, Kashchey the Immortal by Rimsky-Korsakov at the Melbourne Recital Centre, and Il Trovatore.
Born and educated in Moscow, Irina Cherkasski broadened her musical and academic knowledge during more than 20 years experience in piano education, piano accompaniment and vocal coaching in Russia, New Zealand and Australia. Upon completion of a M.Mus. degree in her homeland she got further qualifications as an opera repetiteur (Dip. Perf. Arts/Opera) at Auckland University and a Grad. Dip. Ed. at Monash University. Irina established her reputation as a piano accompanist through her work at Melbourne City Opera, Opera Australia, Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne Chamber Choir, Opera New Zealand, Auckland University and Ippolitov-Ivanov College of Music in Moscow, as well as extensive free-lance activity as a chamber musician. Irina is piano and music theory instructor at Ivanhoe Grammar School and MLC Music Academy. She also runs a busy private studio. Irina is well familiar with the requirements and criteria of various syllabuses including AMEB, VCE , Royal School and Trinity College.
Simon Kenway is an established and highly respected orchestral and operatic conductor. He has held posts as Principal Chorus Master of Opera Australia, Musical Director for Opera in the Vineyards, Opera by George and Opera Under The Stars in Broome, and Conductor and Chief Vocal Coach for the Sydney Conservatorium Opera School. He now works as a freelance conductor, both internationally and in Australia and in 2015 was appointed Artistic Director of Pacific Opera.
Simon has conducted the Sydney, Tasmanian, West Australian, Canberra and Queensland Symphony Orchestras, Opera Australia, West Australian Opera, Opera Queensland, Australian Ballet, Hong Kong Philharmonic, many festivals, Aldeburgh Productions in UK, the Australian Youth Orchestra and Beijing Symphony Orchestra.
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Jacqueline Dark is a Helpmann and Green Room Award winning Australian mezzo Jacqueline Dark is a Helpmann and Green Room Award winning Australian mezzo-soprano, who is currently a principal artist with Opera Australia. Her performance experience encompasses opera, music theatre, cabaret and concert performances and includes the roles of Fricka and Second Norn (Der Ring Des Nibelungen),The Composer (Ariadne auf Naxos), Carmen(Carmen), Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), for which she won a Green Room Awardfor BestFemale Performance in a Leading Role,Lady Billows (Albert Herring),Katisha (The Mikado), Dorabella (Così Fan Tutte ), the title role and Tisbe in Cenerentola, for which she won for a Green Room Award, Rosmira (Partenope), and Herodias (Salome), for which she won a Helpmann Award for Best Female Performance in a Supporting Role.
Melbourne pianist and composer Stefan Cassomenos is one of Australia’s most vibrant and versatile musicians. Stefan has performed internationally since the age of 10, and performed the premiere of his own composition Piano Concerto No 1: Aegean Odyssey with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra at the age of 16. More recently, he has performed concertos with the Beethoven Orchestra Bonn, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, and Orchestra Victoria. Stefan now gives regular solo recitals and concerto performances throughout Australia, Europe, and Asia.
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Justin spent many years living and studying overseas, and he is glad to be home again in Australia. He enjoys playing the piano, particularly in collaboration with singers and other instrumentalists. His other interests include opera, walking in nature, and being with his family and friends.