‘The sound it (the cornetto) produces is similar to a ray of sunlight that penetrates the shadows or the darkness, when it is heard in the cathedrals…’ (Marin Mersenne describing the cornetto, 1635)

‘The dare-devil bravura of Bruce Dickey’s cornetto playing would charm the skin off a snake.’ (BBC Music Magazine)

‘Bruce Dickey and Hana Blažiková really are breathtaking!’ (Vancouver Classical Music)


In the times before today’s sound technology, which instrument came closest to the sound of the human voice? For listeners in the 17th century, the answer was a no-brainer: the cornetto.

Hot on the heels of its acclaimed Australian tour in October 2018, the exciting new Baroque group Van Diemen’s Band is back on the road with Breathtaking, a sensuous exploration of musical entwinement: a sound both unearthly and unnervingly human – of which a writer of the time said that ‘nothing was lacking in that instrument but the form of the human body’ – and its astonishing ability to imitate a singer.

The program allows VDB to present two brilliant soloists in their Australian débuts: American-born cornettist Bruce Dickey, and Czech soprano Hana Blažiková.

Breathtaking is a celebration of that affinity,’ says Dickey. ‘How they combine, converse and complement each other. We hope the imitation will literally take the listener’s breath away.’

Dubbed ‘the Orfeo of the cornetto’, Bruce Dickey has long been considered worldwide as the doyen of the modern generation of players, almost single-handedly creating a renaissance for an instrument that fell into disuse in the 19th century. Not to be confused with the modern brass cornet (or the popular Aussie ice cream!) the conical wooden pipe covered in leather is famously difficult to play. Dickey has been the soloist of choice for maestros such as Gustav Leonhardt, Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Jordi Savall, and is the recipient of the prestigious Taverner Award as one of just 14 musicians for ‘significant contributions to musical understanding.’

Rising star Hana Blažiková is one of the world’s top vocal specialists in baroque music, performing with the Bach Collegium Japan in its recorded cycle of the complete cantatas, the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and the Boston Symphony. Her Festival appearances include those of the Prague Spring and Salzburg.

‘Having two guests of this eminence is a coup for Baroque music in Australia,’ says VDB Artistic Director Julia Fredersdorff. ‘Hana and Bruce have performed this program with huge success in Europe and North America. It’s a mix of 17th century masterworks with a brand-new work written for Breathtaking by modern Greek composer Calliope Tsoupaki, exploiting this unforgettable combination of voice and instrument. My bet is that all of our collective breath will be taken away!’




Van Diemen’s Band with guests Bruce Dickey (cornetto) and Hana Blažiková (soprano)


WEDNESDAY 13 MARCH Trinity College Chapel, Melbourne, 7pm

SUNDAY 17 MARCH Wesley Music Centre, Canberra, 3pm

MONDAY 18 MARCH St James King Street, Sydney, 7pm

TUESDAY 19 MARCH St Andrews Uniting Church, Brisbane, 7pm

FRIDAY 22 MARCH St David’s Cathedral, Hobart, 6pm

SATURDAY 23 MARCH The Tin Shed, Spring Bay Mill, Triabunna, 2pm

SUNDAY 24 MARCH UKARIA, Mt Barker Summit, Adelaide, 2.30pm


Tickets at and at the door

Ciara Nicholls

Publicity Consultant