The Australian Festival of Chamber Music has become famous for its combination of top drawer musicmaking and friendly socialising. Our 22nd festival presents composers ranging from Telemann to Composer-in- Residence, our own Nigel Westlake, as renowned for his film music (‘Babe' and ‘Miss Potter') as for his concert work.
I am excited that many popular past performers are returning this year: William Barton, Damien Beaumont, Ian Brunskill, the Camerata of St John's, the Goldner String Quartet, violist Dave Harding, bassist Max McBride, Catherine McCorkill, flautist Lorna McGhee, Marshall McGuire, Karin Schaupp, violinist Atle Sponberg, pianist Kathryn Stott, Michele Walsh and Sarah Wilson. But also, thrilling performers new to the festival will be making their débuts. From Australia: Band of Brothers, pianist Caroline Almonte, cellist Howard Penny and two strikingly versatile singers, Katie Noonan, and Merlyn Quaife, whose 60th birthday we shall celebrate. From overseas, we'll greet the English pianist Jonathan Plowright, the Dutch Storioni Trio, violinist Leo Phillips, originally from England, more recently from Bangkok, and Canadian violist Barry Shiffman.
The festival will follow the format that has proved so successful the past few years. I'll interview artists in the morning Concert Conversations, we'll have evening concerts of core and spicy repertoire, including a Monday night second half devoted to tango with that master of the form, Atle Sponberg. The Ray Golding Sunset Series this year will be particularly accessible, with lots of Classical and early Romantic repertoire on offer. We are delighted that Dancenorth will join us for a choreographed interpretation of Schubert's entrancing Notturno.
As has become traditional, we shall salute the anniversaries of quite a lineup of composers this year: the 150th of the births of Claude Debussy and Frederick Delius, the 75th of Ravel's death, the 100th of Massenet's death, the 50th of the deaths of Fritz Kreisler, John Ireland and Jacques Ibert and the centenary of the births of Peggy Glanville-Hicks and Jean Françaix. We'll host the world première of Nigel Westlake's Sonata for Two Guitars - who better to undertake that job than the masterly Grigoryan brothers?
A special treat on offer is a sea voyage to the uninhabited end of Orpheus Island, where we'll hold a short concert on the shore - check inside for details!
We are proud that we have audience members who have come to all of the festivals since they began. Those who have been before know what an inviting place Townsville is in the winter months. But if you haven't yet succumbed to the multiple attractions of fine music and fine weather and Barrier Reef explorations that the AFCM can offer, let me assure you of a warm welcome. No matter how short or long a visit you can make, you'll easily fall in with lots of likeminded people from all round Australia and beyond - and you'll have a gourmet musical feast!