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Bach’s Goldberg Variations, In Full Swing

Andrea Lam

Jazz icon Paul Grabowsky joins pianist Andrea Lam to tackle one of the masterpieces of the piano repertoire for Musica Viva Australia.


Bach’s Goldberg Variations have captivated audiences for centuries, and it’s no wonder why. Few works are so perfectly formed, elegant in execution but breathtakingly complex in structure. In the best hands, it’s a work that’s deeply affecting, moving from joy to sorrow and back again – it’s little surprise that it’s inspired an astonishing array of interpretations and arrangements. For Musica Viva Australia, acclaimed pianist Andrea Lam and jazz legend Paul Grabowsky will each present their individual takes on the Goldberg Variations when they tour the country from June 11 – 25.

Audiences will hear Lam, celebrated for her sensitive pianism and easy virtuosity, play Bach’s masterpiece as it was written on the page. Considered by many pianists as one of the Everests of the keyboard repertoire, Bach’s thirty variations encompass tender sarabandes, graceful dances, and pitch-black fugues, before returning to the opening Aria, completely reconfigured in audiences’ minds after the journey they’ve been on. The work’s simplicity exists hand in hand with its miraculous power.

Paul Grabowsky

The Goldberg Variations thus lends itself well to reinvention, which Grabowsky will demonstrate when he takes the stage to present his own jazz improvisation on Bach’s timeless theme. In doing so, the venerable musician joins a long and fascinating lineage of jazz greats who have interpreted Bach’s work through this different but equally brilliant genre.

“Bach was one of the greatest improvisers in the history of European art music,” Grabowsky told Musica Viva Australia in an interview ahead of the tour.

An unmissable event in this year’s live music calendar, Paul Grabowsky and Andrea Lam will perform at Newcastle City Hall on 23 June. For those who’d prefer to enjoy the performance from home, the concert will be livestreamed on Saturday 25 June at 7pm AEST.

For more information on the performance or to book tickets for either the Newcastle City Hall performance or livestream, visit


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