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Longing and Desire


Jessica Cottis (Image: Kaupo Kikkas)

Wednesday 12 / Thursday 13 May 2021

Llewellyn Hall, ANU, 7.30pm

Jessica Cottis Conductor
Andrea Lam Piano
Canberra Symphony Orchestra


Piano Concerto No. 2

Selections from Romeo and Juliet (ballet score)

Adult – $59-101
Concession – $48-89
Under 30 – $30 

The German word sehnsucht describes an intense, often bittersweet longing, a yearning for that unattainable something that would make one’s life complete and yet remains tantalisingly out of reach. This aching delusion, somewhere between tragedy and promise, has inspired countless poets, artists and musicians, among them Goethe, Schubert, Wagner and Strauss.

Based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Prokofiev’s ballet score of the same name is an exhilarating and ultimately devastating depiction of such perilous desire. It is a work of mighty opposites: joy and grief, fate and chance, life and death. Catastrophe looms from the work’s first moments, the tension building as instruments one by one join its haunting soundscape.

At its heady, physical climax, there’s an inevitability that all must come crashing down, as it does for Shakespeare’s ‘star-cross’d lovers’. This is Prokofiev at his most expressive and powerful, an extraordinary portrayal of reckless passion and eternal love.

Though not marred by such ‘violent ends’, Richard Meale’s Viridian is equally evocative. The Australian composer’s lush score glows with iridescent orchestral colours, a work exquisitely shaped, sonorous, verdant and sensual.

Rachmaninoff’s second piano concerto dances between light and shade, full of lyrical melodies and exhilarating crescendos. The composer began the work slowly in 1901, emerging from a deep depression after the disastrous premiere of his first symphony. This atmospheric concerto saved Rachmaninoff’s career, appearing decades later in David Lean’s 1945 film Brief Encounter. Perhaps its endurance lies in a kind of sehnsucht that speaks to the core of the human experience: an inconsolable longing, illuminated by a great hope.




The Box Office will open at 6.15pm for ticket sales and collection. If possible, please book tickets in advance via the online links below, or over the phone with CSO Direct (02 6262 6772, weekdays 10am – 3pm). Ticket sales at the door will be card only (no cash)

The box office will be open from 6.15pm for ticket collection. Please show your tickets on entry to the Hall for contactless checking.

There will be a free, pre-concert talk from 6.30pm.

As a COVID-safe precaution, cloaking is not available at this time.

Free after hours parking is available in front of the ANU School of Music, behind the ANU School of Art and in the Baldessin multi-storey carpark off Childers Street.

The second edition of rest (the CSO magazine) will be available for purchase. Subscribers may redeem program vouchers at the Box Office to receive complimentary copies.

Atticus Coffee (Level 5, ANU School of Music) will be serving tea, coffee and soft drinks before the concert. The Athenaeum (ground floor) and Level 4 bars will be open pre-concert and at interval – the bars will accept card only (no cash).

There will be a 20-minute interval.




We are working closely with all our concert venues to deliver COVID-safe concert experiences for musicians, staff and patrons in line with ACT Government requirements. Regular seating configurations will be in place for this concert. While you will be sitting next to other patrons, please practise social distancing where possible as you move through the foyers and other spaces. More information about safety measures and COVID-19 ticket exchange policy

The ACT Government requires all patrons to check in at Llewellyn Hall using the Check in CBR app. To minimise delays, please download and open the app in advance. Patrons who do not have a smart phone will be checked in by Llewellyn Hall venue staff.

We encourage all our patrons to stay informed and follow ACT Health guidance. 




To book tickets to the Wednesday or Thursday performance of Llewellyn Two: Longing and Desire, follow the “Longing and Desire” links below. To discuss a custom subscription, call CSO Direct on 02 6262 6772 (weekdays, 10am – 3pm).

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