Kepler Ensemble was formed in 1981 as the Franchezza Chamber Group. Initially a trio (flute, violin and piano), it has undergone an enormous number of transformations and at one stage, the membership was up to seven. The current membership includes Wayne Madden, Hetty Binns and Robert Henley. In the entire quarter of a century of concerts, the group has had only two regular venues for concerts: the Adult Education Centre and the current Lawrence Vale Uniting Church. However, 2014 will see a move to a new venue at the Gordon Dell Auditorium, Glenara Lakes.
We have copies of nearly all of our concert programs going back to 1984 and Hetty has recently completed the process of converting the information into electronic form for inclusion in a database. A more complete history of the group, its composition and repertoire will be put together sometime in the future and included here.
Many of our concertgoers will undoubtedly have pondered about the name and its association with our group. Kepler, as you may have guessed, refers to Johannes Kepler (1571 - 1630) a very important and influencial German scientist whose discoveries about planetary motion were a crucial forerunner to Newton's laws of gravity.
Initially, our group was called the Franchezza Chamber Group (pronounced franketza) but frustrations with very few people being able to pronounce or spell it properly led to a decision in 1988 to change the name of the group to something completely phonetic.
But why Kepler? What has a famous cosmologist got to do with a chamber music group?
Here are two reasons; firstly Kepler was not just an astronomer but he also studied and wrote extensively about music; secondly, several of our members have a scientific background. Read the following short biography and see whether you can see any attributes which might lead Kepler to be a suitable role model for the ensemble.
Wayne was born in Melbourne and moved to Tasmania with his family in 1961. He returned to Melbourne in 1969 to undertake a Bachelor of Music, studying violin with Nathan Gutman, piano with Geoffrey McFerran and composition with Keith Humble. He then gained a Master of Music degree in composition studying with Ian Bonighton and Peter Tahourdin.
In 1974, he was awarded the Dorian le Gallienne composition prize which resulted in a commission to write a sonata for viola and piano. The same year he became a permanent member of the first violin section of the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra. In 1975, he was appointed lecturer in composition, harmony and orchestration at the University of Melbourne and in 1977 took up a post as music lecturer at the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education, Newnham campus (later the University of Tasmania).
In 1991, he obtained a Graduate Diploma of Applied Computing from the University of Tasmania and in 1995 took up a position as trainer and consultant at NDA Computing. Currently, he is working full time for the same company as statewide network administrator, database developer, systems and application trainer, courseware developer, webmaster, mail administrator and hardware advisor.
His interests, other than music and computing, include meteorology, astronomy, mathematics and physics.
He joined Kepler Ensemble in 1984 and is currently their music director, choosing, arranging and tutoring much of the music which appears in the group's concert programs.
Hetty Binns was born in the Netherlands, the fourth of five children, emigrating to Australia as a young child with her family in 1953. Her father had a great love of music, especially classical, which he passed on to his children. Throughout her childhood Hetty’s voice was recognized as special, but the family’s financial situation prevented formal music education. During her school years Hetty participated fully in all the singing opportunities offered by her school, including school choirs, special voices and madrigal singing. In the mid 1960s she taught herself to play folk guitar and autoharp, and over the subsequent years sang regularly in Tasmanian folk clubs both as a solo artist, in the duo ‘Joe and Hetty’ and in the ‘The Shoestring Band’. In the late 1980’s she was increasingly drawn to classical music and became involved with church music, oratorio and light opera.
Vocal training started in 1994 with highly respected teacher Miep Coenen, under whose expert guidance her voice and musical understanding developed and matured. She competed at the Launceston Competitions from 1996 to 1999 with increasing success, winning all the classes entered in 1999 including the Launceston Aria and the Mervyn Barnes Memorial Trophy. In 2002 Hetty attained her AMEB Associate in singing.
In 1997 Hetty graduated from the University of Tasmania with a degree in Biomedical Science and now works there full time in the School of Human Life Sciences as a technical officer.
Hetty joined the Launceston Philharmonic Choral Society Inc in 1992 and performed as a soloist with the society on a number of occasions including Mendelssohn’s “Hear my Prayer” in 1999, as Belinda in “Dido and Aneas” in 2001, the 2002 “Opera Gala” and 2003 “Songs of England” concerts, as well as at country “Messiah” concerts. In August 2003 Hetty had the opportunity to extend herself again by exploring the lower end of her vocal range in the contralto solos in Vivaldi’s “Gloria” which are often sung by a mezzo-soprano.
Following a guest solo performance with the Kepler Ensemble in November 1999 Hetty was invited to become a full member the same year thus providing her with the opportunity to perform as a soloist at all their regular concerts.
Hetty’s repertoire includes songs and arias from the late Renaissance through to the 20th century in Italian, German and French as well as English.
© Kepler Ensemble 2018