Monsieur Camembert
Location: Sydney
Country: Australia

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  • “where the passions really fly”
Mixing Hungarian, Russian and Romanian gypsy styles with jazz, tango,
swing, klezmer and French Musette, Sydney-based band Monsieur Camembert’s shows have become synonymous with an atmosphere of celebration and spontaneity. This is gutsy, emotive and irresistibly danceable music, played with originality and virtuosity.
Triple ARIA Award winning group Monsieur Camembert has been described as theatrical, irreverent, virtuosic, and off the wall! While remaining COMPLETELY INDEPENDENT, the group has been at the forefront of Australia’s Gyprock explosion, performing for more than eight years, and gaining a wide audience at a range of events, including national and international music festivals, concert halls, and even celebrity weddings, including Toni Collette, Charlie Brown & Deborah Conway!
Performances over the past few years have included the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony, the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, three sell-out concerts in Paris, The International Festival Of Music and Dance in Thailand, The International Gypsy Swing Festival in New Caledonia, The Mosaic World,Music Festival in Singapore, Australia Day Celebrations in Bangkok and Laos, WOMADelaide in South Australia, four Woodford Festivals in Queensland and many other festivals (including Arts, Jazz, Folk, World, Acoustic and Gypsy Festivals) across Australia.
In 2002, Monsieur Camembert’s 2nd CD Live on Stage won the ARIA Award for Best World Music Album. They followed this up in 2003 with their third CD, Absynthe, which again took out the ARIA AWARD for Best World Music album. The album remained on the Australian Jazz Charts for a record-breaking 145 Weeks, after more than 6 months at the No.1 position. In 2005, Monsieur Camembert received their third ARIA Award for Best World Music Album (for the double self-titled CD Monsieur Camembert), as well as performing live at the ARIA
Fine Arts awards.
In 2006 and 2007, Monsieur Camembert developed and recorded their Leonard Cohen show – Famous Blue Cheese, which was nominated for an ARIA Award in the category of Original Cast Recordings/Soundtracks. In 2008, Monsieur Camembert will be extensively touring Famous Blue Cheese, kicking off with the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, with special guest Deborah Conway. They are particularly excited to have been invited to headline the prestigious International Leonard Cohen Festival in Canada, where they will twice perform their Leonard Cohen show in July 08.
Monsieur Camembert is:
Yaron Hallis - Lead Vocals/Rhythm Guitar
Mark Harris - Double Bass
Marcello Maio - Accordion/Piano
Julian Curwin - Lead Guitar, banjo
Matt Ottignon - Saxes/Clarinet/Flute
Jess Ciampa - Percussion

Guest Artists:
Edouard Bronson - Saxes/Clarinet/Flute
Anatoli Torjinski - Cello/Balalaika
Jim 'Santiago' Pennell - Lead Guitar
Alex Burkoy - Violin, Guitar
“…Watching Monsieur Camembert is like slipping into a steaming bubble bath with a bottle of mature Vino and a cigar, then having the pleasure of rolling around iin front of an open fire, on a big fluffy rug, in nothing but a pair of red patent leather stilettos and nothing to worry about except how damn nice everything is. Yes, I find no cause for hesitation before declaring that Monsieur Camembert is probably the most entertaining band in the universe. Ever.”
Drum Media Magazine, Sydney, March 2008
“The eclectic repertoire races across styles and geographical boundaries with never a care…Like light changing on water, the band is expert at flitting between moods… [They] have that fervour for their music, and the expertise to sustain it. They pick you up and carry you on a wave of energy, excitement and poignancy that never relents…”
John Shand, Music Writer, Sydney Morning Herald
“…a gloriously good humoured and eclectic collection of genres colliding together into a surprisingly coherent whole. It’s all carnival sounds & folk parody but played with undeniable ebullient gusto & enthusiasm…. [Musically] as diverse as the ethnic mix in the line-up itself, & delivered with all the virtuosity, bravado & wit you’d expect from this superbly cerebral yet viscerally driven ensemble…”
Drum Media Magazine
“...the excellence of the musicians is never in doubt as they quote a kaleidoscope of genres not only with flair and humour, but also with telling feeling…”
Diaspora Magazine
“Rippling guitars, accordion swirls & ridiculously fast rhythms lend themselves beautifully to the gypsy-flavoured tunes which can veer suddenly from a brisk, hot, club-style swing into a sultry tango or a strangely appropriate country & western twang …so bring your Cossack boots & prepare to dance.”
The Age
“Hot solos, blistering fretwork, extreme clarinet, accordion frenzy and vocal hi-jinks…their music is exciting and their fans excitable!”
The Weekend Australian
“With irresistible bounce and stylistic verve, their sound is a true melting pot, transcending musical boundaries galore…& you'll find some of Sydney's most free thinking musicians in the line-up.”
“…frenetic energy and unstoppable groove…impossible not to dance to. It’s the irreverence with which Camembert approach their music that gives it its vibrancy and energy.”
Revolver Magazine
“These guys really know how to swing...the perfect party music - there is something very irresistible and fun and sexy about it… These guys are wonderful and sorely needed in this pre-packaged age.”
Cleo Glyde, Basement-online
“Riotously theatrical and kitschy arrangements make for great entertainment that is, by turns, high energy Django Reinhardt & sleazy, smoky cabaret…”
Roots Magazine, U.K.
“…if I had to summarise the immense appeal of this group, it is their subtle quirkiness and sense of surprise they engender...and you could groove to them all night!
Diaspora Magazine
“…two parts push-you-back-in-your-chair passion to one part tongue-in-cheek excitement!”
Sydney Morning Herald
“…a winning tongue-in-cheek insouciance that is instantly intoxicating & highly infectious.”
Adelaide Review
“…gloriously melodramatic, extraordinary musical prowess & breathless panache…ensemble playing at its finest.”
Drum Media Magazine
“The Australian seven-piece, featuring two exquisite female singers, was the find of the night. They performed four of Cohen’s tunes - including a smoky, woozy “Who By Fire”, and a retro-soul rendition of “Light as the Breeze” - and upstaged the show’s headliner.”
Edmonton Journal, Canada. Review of Leonard Cohen International Gala Concert (July 2008)
“… raise hairs and shatter hearts … I found these three hours of Cohen a richer experience than the 2005 Sydney Festival's much-vaunted Came So Far for Beauty. There the singers had been the stars, while here the songs were. This nine-piece band also offered greater textural variation in realising the multiplicity of Cohen moods.“
John Shand. Review of performance at The Vanguard, Sydney. “Famous Blue Cheese” (2007)
“Monsieur Camembert perform a tribute to Leonard Cohen. Of course it was bloody marvellous. Performing a selection of Cohen’s songs, with beautifully-written introductions and segues… Monsieur Camembert’s headymix of Latin music, swing and jazz (among many others) brings to life fabulous reinterpretations of Cohen’s work. They were joined by the jazz-infused stalwart Deborah Conway and the gospel-driven Ngaiire… Ngairre’s interpretation of "Bird on a Wire" was almost transcendent. The night was theatrical and fun, I for one can’t remember the last time that I saw someone play two saxophones at the same time.“
Adelaide Cabaret Festival review. Anais Chevalier, The Independant Weekly (2008)
  • Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Adelaide SA (2008) Perth Concert Hall (2008)
  • The Famous Spiegeltent (2008)
  • Woodford Folk Festival (1998, 1999, 2000, 2005)
  • Cygnet Festival, Tasmania (2005)
  • Live performance at the ARIA Fine Arts Awards (2005)
  • Sydney Opera House - premiere of the Leonard Cohen show (2005)
  • Cockatoo Island Festival, Sydney NSW (2005)
  • The Fly By Night, Fremantle WA (2005)
  • WOMADelaide, SA (2003)
  • Adelaide Festival of Arts (2003)
  • St. Kilda Festival, Victoria (2003)
  • World Beat Festival, Brisbane (2003)
  • QLD, WA, VIC Tours (2003)
  • Port Fairy Folk Festival (2002)
  • Perth Fringe Festival, WA (2002)
  • Brunswick Music Festival (2002)
  • Maldon Festival, Vic (2002)
  • Bellingen Global Carnival, NSW (2002)
  • Lord Mayor’s NYE Party, Sydney Opera House (2002)
  • Tour OF Regional NSW (NSW Council for the Arts) (2001)
  • Goat Island Film Festival (2001)
  • Sydney Opera House (2001)
  • Viva La Gong Festival (Woolongong) (2001)
  • Coogee Jazz Festival (2001)
  • Sydney Official Olympic Sites (3 shows) (2000)
  • Paralympics Opening Ceremony (2000)
  • Adelaide Fringe Festival (2000)
  • Opening of The Paul Cezanne Exhibition : Art Gallery of NSW (2000)
  • The Lismore Folk Festival (1999)
  • Hobart Fringe Festival (1999)
  • The Basement, Sydney
  • The Vanguard, Sydney
  • The Brass Monkey, Sydney
  • The Heritage, Sydney
  • The Factory, Sydney
  • Australian Chamber of Commerce Australia Day Ball (2008)
  • Laos tour (2008)
  • Bangkok International Festival of Music and Dance, Thailand (2007)
  • Mosaic World Music Festival – Singapore (2005)
  • Montreux International Jazz Festival 2004 – Switzerland (2004)
  • Paris, France (3 sell-out shows) (2004)
  • Corporate Event - Hong Kong (2002)
  • Monsieur Camembert
  • Absinthe
  • Famous Blue Cheese
  • Live At The Basement
  • Live On Stage
  • Winner 2002 ARIA - World Music Category : “Live on Stage” album
  • ARIA for World Music : “Absynthe” album
  • ARIA Award for Best World Music Album : for the double self-titled CD Monsieur Camembert (2005)
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