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XL Arts Inc. professional development summer project for 2019 will be an Introduction to singing in Russian. The course will begin on  29th January 2019 and concluding 2nd March 2019. We are delighted to have our course conducted by Russian Repertoire Specialist Alan Cook, and our Artistic Director Liane Keegan.


The project is designed to give the participants an introduction to the vast amount of wonderful Russian repertoire in both art song and operatic repertoire, whilst also looking at:

  • How to tackle the Cyrillic Alphabet

  • Creating your own transliterations

  • A guide to pronunciation

  • Group classes with an introduction to the Russian Language

  • Practical tuition in performance-based situations both in Art Song and Operatic Repertoire


The project will feature two performance events.  The first featuring a concert of Russian Art Song. The second will feature a selection of staged opera scenes conducted by Alan Cook and directed by Liane Keegan.


Project Masters


Project Music Director

Russian Repertoire Expert

Alan Cook

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.


Course Director

Liane Keegan

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



Irina Cherkasski

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.

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