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Music Talks at The Joan

Delve into the world of music, art and literature with The Joan’s 2024 Music Talks series.

Facilitated by esteemed musicians, composers and researchers, this series will take you on a journey through art and culture that is not to be missed.

Scroll down to discover our exciting line-up of events, meet the speakers and for a special offer!


Beethoven and His Deafness with Andy Bromberger
Wednesday 10 April at 11am

“Music is like a dream. One that I cannot hear.”

Beethoven began losing his hearing at the tender age of 28, leading to complete deafness. In this fascinating talk, Andy Bromberger will reveal how this great composer managed to write some of the most-loved and well-known classical masterpieces of all time despite this. Join her as she uncovers the mental, physical and creative impact going deaf had on a composer of Beethoven’s stature and how he adapted to living with disability and expressing his emotions around this.

Anne of Green Gables and Prince Edward Island: Lecture and World Premiere of Piano and Stings with Merri Bell
Thursday 18 April at 6:30pm

In this concert and presentation, Merri Bell will discuss acclaimed Canadian author, L.M. Montgomery. Best known for her novel, Anne of Green Gables, the first book in a seven-part series, Montgomery also wrote thirteen books exploring the life and experience of young women in the early 19th century, and was an extensive diarist.

“Kindred spirits” are invited to come together for this special event featuring the world premiere of Bell’s new composition for piano and strings, which responds to and evokes a musical portrait of Prince Edward Island, the infamous setting of the Anne of Green Gables series.

The Concerto and Birth of the Musical Celebrity with Dr Paul Smith
Wednesday 8 May at 11am

From the history of the concerto to some of the most famous classical performers in history, in this talk Dr Paul Smith will draw on a wide range of classical and some contemporary examples, to explore the development of form and musical characteristics of the classical concerto. He will also delve into how these trends have evolved and the political economy of the musical soloist, recognising the concerto star as being one of the earliest forms of ‘musical celebrity’.

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Andy Bromberger
Wednesday 12 June at 11am

Regarded as one of the greatest works in the classical repertoire and the pinnacle of Beethoven’s achievements, The Ninth Symphony (1822 – 1824) is remarkable not only for its grandness of scale, but also for being the first symphony by a major composer to feature vocal parts, with text adapted from An die Freude (Ode to Joy) by Fredrich Schiller (1785).

Join Andy Bromberger as she reveals the political, social and historic implications of this ground-breaking piece of music in this special lecture.


Purchase a Music Talks package to experience all four of our events including Beethoven and His DeafnessAnne of Green Gables and Prince Edward Island and The Concerto and the Birth of the Musical Celebrity and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and save $10!

Click Here to Book a Music Talks Package Now


Andy Bromberger
Andy Bromberger (ASCM, BMus perf) started a music appreciation series over a decade ago called ‘Coffee, Cake and Culture”. CCC looks at music history- exploring music’s social history and the political, environmental and societal circumstances which influenced composers, performers and the listening public. She has given regular talks at the Art Gallery of NSW, takes tours – nationally and internationally with Renaissance Tours, has a podcast called “Coffee Cake and Culture – the music podcast” and last year was the animateur for the inaugural Oberon Chamber Music Festival.

Merri Bell
Merri Bell is a composer and a doctoral candidate in Music at the University of New England. She holds a Bachelor of Music with Honours (1st Class, UNE) and runs an active piano and music studio in Newcastle, NSW. With an interest in how we construct and ascribe contextual meaning to music and how we respond to it, Merri’s current research is focused on the intertextual relationship between music and literature.

Dr Paul Smith
Paul is a composer and researcher based in Sydney who specialises in opera and music for the toy piano. He is Associate Professor in Music at the University of New England and his works have premiered in Singapore, the UK, Italy, the USA, and Armenia in addition to Australian festivals and concert performances. In 2023, his vocal work ‘Songs of the Sirens’ was performed on the sands of Bondi Beach as part of Bondi Festival and he was a recipient of the ABC Classic Composer Commissioning Fund to write three new works for toy piano and recorder. Paul’s work draws on ideas of play, satire, and the absurd and he regularly collaborates with visual artists, theatre makers, and directors.  Paul is the co-artistic director of Blush Opera where he is currently developing a new work based on the life of Florence Broadhurst.

Anne of Green Gables and Prince Edward Island and The Concerto and the Birth of the Musical Celebrity are run in partnership with the University of New England (UNE).

Image Description
A collage of photos and paintings on a textured beige background. The text says ‘Music Talks at The Joan’ and a graphic of a music stave and treble clef. Images include: A headshot of Dr Paul Smith and Andy Bromberger. A photo of Anne of Green Gables holding a basket of flowers and walking towards Green Gables House. Paintings of Beethoven walking, a lady playing the violin and Beethoven with his manuscript.

Image Credits
Beethoven and His Deafness:
Beethoven by Julius Schmid, ca. 1901, via Wien Museum, Vienna
The Concerto and the Birth of the Musical Celebrity: N01725 A VIOLIN CONCERTO 1898. Inscr. ‘John Gulich, R.I. 1898’ b.l. Watercolour on paper mounted on canvas, 35×28 (89×71). Tate Gift 1899.
Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony: Beethoven with the Manuscript of the Missa Solemnis by Joseph Karl Stieler, 1820, oil on canvas.