Harpist Paul Nicolaou to perform with Australian Youth Orchestra at Sydney Opera House


Paul Nicolaou will perform with the Australian Youth Orchestra (AYO) in Sydney and Canberra this July as they present the world premiere of Ngapa William Cooper.

The 19-year-old Greek-Cypriot Australian will be playing the harp as part of the orchestral performance on Sunday, July 9 at Canberra’s Llewellyn Hall and the Sydney Opera House on Monday, July 10 this year.

Ngapa William Cooper premiered at the Adelaide Festival in 2023 and was born out of a rich collaboration between composer Nigel Westlake, singer-songwriter Lior, and performer and academic Dr Lou Bennett AM. 

Ngapa William Cooper explores the strength and compassion of Yorta Yorta activist Uncle William Cooper. In 1938, Cooper led the Australian Aborigines’ League through the streets of Melbourne in the only non-Jewish protest worldwide against the events of Kristallnacht in Nazi Germany. Using English and Yorta Yorta language, it is a celebration of a man who left behind a ‘legacy of resistance, solidarity and empathy.’

The Australian Youth Orchestra. Photo: Edify Media.

The concert opens with Westlake’s The Glass Soldier, originally written for Hannie Rayson’s play of the same name. It is dedicated to the memory Nelson Ferguson, a WW1 veteran and artist, and was commissioned by Ferguson’s grandson Don Farrands. 

This will be followed by the orchestral premiere of Beneath the Waves, the distillation of Westlake’s score for 2022 motion picture Blueback. Star cellist Sharon Grigoryan will feature as soloist. Blueback takes its story from Tim Winton’s 1997 novel and follows a mother and daughter’s fight to protect Australia’s precious coral reefs. 

The premiere orchestral performance of Ngapa William Cooper will be held during 2023 NAIDOC Week that will coincide with the Canberra performance. NAIDOC Week is a time to for all Australians to learn about First Nations cultures and histories. To acknowledge this, BlakTix (discounted tickets for First Nations audience members) will be available for both performances.

Event details:

Canberra show:

  • Venue: Llewellyn Hall, Australian National University, Canberra
  • Date & Time: Sunday 9 July at 5pm 
  • Prices: $25 – $59 
  • Book here.

Sydney show:

  • Venue: Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House 
  • Date & Time: Monday 10 July at 8pm 
  • Prices: $25 – $59 
  • Book here.




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