Album Review: Echo & Return by Callum Henshaw – accomplished, polished and just a little adventurous!

Echo & Return is the first recording from young Australian guitarist Callum Henshaw. And what a cracker it is!

Who is Callum Henshaw?

Callum began playing guitar aged just six, learning from a number of talented teachers including Carolyn Kidd, Daniel McKay and Minh Le Hoang. In 2013, he completed a degree in guitar performance with First Class Honours at the ANU School of Music, taught by the world-renowned guitar performer and teacher, Timothy Kain.

Cal has won numerous awards both in Australia and internationally. In 2012, he won First Prize in the Cordoba International Guitar Competition in Spain. In 2013, he was awarded Best Performance of an Australian Work at the Melbourne Guitar Competition (which I witnessed and I can tell you he wasn’t too shabby at all!). With duo partner, Campbell Diamond, he won First Prize in the Sydney Eisteddfod Instrumental Duo Competition. In 2014, he placed third in the Adelaide International Guitar Competition, and placed first in the Tirana International Guitar Competition in Albania.


Nicole’s Verdict on Echo & Return?

This is certainly a very special recording, and it’s clear we’re witnessing here the rise of another top Aussie guitar talent.

The playing is highly accomplished and musically presented, including across all ten of Granados’ Valses Poeticos and Ponce’s Variations sur “Folia de España” et Fugue, both presented as single tracks on the recordings. Between these two mammoth tracks we’re treated to Napoléon Coste’s Le Départ, which is played with a virtuosic flair, high energy levels and beautiful tone colours.

We’re then treated to all four movements of Peter Sculthorpe’s From Kakadu, my favourite of which being the third movement Misterioso. Callum’s approach to this particular movement really evokes that mysterious quality Sculthorpe is no doubt looking for.

My favourite piece on this recording though has to be Bleed-through by young Australian composer Samuel Smith. Let me warn you however – this is not a piece of music for the faint-hearted, nor those who like to reside comfortably in the relative consonant simplicity of traditional Western classical music.

If you are on the more adventurous side and like to explore cutting edge guitar and art music generally then you’ll be on to a winner here. With its soundscapes of chilling echoes, feedback loops (providing inspiration for the title of the recording “Echo & Return“) and suggestions of colour this is a great new addition to the oeuvre. And a big hats of to Callum for being adventurous enough to include in this recording. I do wish more artists, established and budding alike, would make these kind of valuable musical explorations. Well done!

I urge you to check out Echo & Return – head over to Callum’s website at to download the album (and rather generously name your price for it) or order your very own hardcopy CD of this wonderful recording. Get on it now and check out this star ascendant.


Cygnus Ensemble With World Premiere Guitar Works Live Webcast From NYC!

I have a pretty cool one for you this morning, folks!

The lovely folks over at LIVAMP ( got in touch this week to let me and you guys know that there is a very special event coming up this Friday, January 16th.

LIVAMP is an online platform for broadcasting unique performances from handpicked venues globally. They are working with chamber music virtuosos Cygnus Ensemble to help them reach a broader audience through a live broadcast of one of their exciting upcoming performances.

On Friday January 16th at 7:30pm US Eastern Time Cygnus is performing a unique event at SubCulture in New York focused on showcasing the expansion of plucked instrument repertoire. The concert features the much-anticipated premiere of West of the Moon, by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Yehudi Wyner.

Cygnus Ensemble
Cygnus Ensemble

This really sounds like my kind of performance, with a showcase of the wide expressive range of the guitar, its players and its composers, featuring brand, spanking new instrumental and vocal works.

The ensembles Cygnus and Vox ‘n Plux, are joined by soprano, Elizabeth Farnum, baritone Thomas Meglioranza, guitarists Jiyeon Kim and Hao Yang (both students of David Starobin, who will also be conducting a performance of his work at the performance).

You can watch a free live broadcast of the full performance at (no login required; sign-up online for reminder) Jan 16, 2015 730pm ET live at SubCulture in NYC. How cool is that?!
The performers will be:

Yehudi Wyner:  West of the Moon (flute, oboe, mandolin, guitar, violin, cello)

Michael Starobin:  Blurred (set of arrangements of theatrical songs by Stephen Sondheim, Tom Kitt, and William Finn, featuring Vox n Plux –soprano Elizabeth Farnum, with guitarists William Anderson and Oren Fader)

Paul Lansky: Talking Guitars (for two guitars)

David Starobin:  From Tchaikovsky’s Letters (for baritone & guitar)

William Anderson: Eight Rhythms of Djuna Barnes (for Vox n Plux)

And here’s the full program for you

Michael Starobin:  Blurred (2014)
Arrangements of Stephen Sondheim, William Finn and Tom Kitt.
A Cycle of Theater Songs
1. Losing My Mind
2. Psychopharmacology
3. When The Earth Stopped Turning

Vox n Plux
Elizabeth Farnum, soprano; William Anderson & Oren Fader, guitars
Paul Lansky: Talking Guitars (2014)
A conversation for two guitars
1.  Repeat After Me
2.  Let’s Talk
3.  Fast Talk

William Anderson
Eight Rhythms, Six Songs
Settings of Djuna Barnes
1. Seen From the “L” / Rite of Spring
2. She Passed This Way
3. Crystals
4. The Child Would Be Older
5. Paradise / When the Kissing Flesh Is Gone
6. Pastoral

Vox n Plux, with Sheer Pluck Guitar Orchestra


David Starobin
From Tchaikovsky’s Letters
1. In Paris
2. My Opera
3. Three Hundred Rubles
4. The Villa Richelieu
5. The Weather
6. My Future
7. Waves

William Anderson & Thomas Meglioranza

Yehudi Wyner
West of the Moon

Yehudi Wyner
Yehudi Wyner

LIVAMP will be broadcasting the event live on in high definition for a global audience. How exciting!! Get on it folks and tune in!

To find out a bit more about the performance head here:


Check out LIVAMP across their various media locations here:



Instagram: @livampmedia


Find out more about the Cygnus Ensemble here: