Australian Festival of Chamber Music – Repertoire to Admire

Music 1

AFCM 1A program of rare and exceptional music played on many ‘enchanted evenings’ by those who come from both near and far to the warmer climes of Queensland in the middle of an Australian winter to perform, has again been chosen by artistic director and internationally acclaimed pianist Piers Lane AO, for this year’s Australian Festival of Chamber Music (AFCM), to be held July 28 – August 5, 2017.

AFCM 5The Beginnings concert on opening night at the Townsville Civic Theatre is a point in question, with twelfth and fourteenth century English and Italian works integral to the program of classical music, which is also offering ‘a world premiere by Composer-in-Residence Matthew Hindson, played by the Quartet-in-Residence, the Goldner String Quartet.

Matthew AFCM

Matthew Hindson, Composer in Residence Australian Festival of Chamber Music

Sydney-based composer Matthew Hindson said. “We shall glory in Bach one day and be uplifted by Jake Heggie’s Pieces 9/11 on the next. We shall again take the opportunity for a boat trip to Orpheus Island to view whales and stunning mid-Winter sunsets, and support and celebrate the young artists of the Winterschool on other days.”

String quartetThere will be six morning Concert Conversations, four Sunset Series events, two Church Concerts, the official Evening Series Program, a Concert Crawl and the Orpheus Island Experience. New to the program will be the Currajong House Garden Party on Saturday 29 July, an outdoor concert with lawn games and traditional afternoon tea.


Over the centuries the instruments played and voices that have either sung, or narrated to music, have been a powerful force affecting the lives of many people.

Classical music emerged as its own entity during the nineteenth century, mentioned first in the Oxford English Diction as a term from about 1836. This was because music scholars wanted to view and classify a period of composition from the time of musician Johann Sebastian Bach to Ludwig von Beethoven as a ‘golden age’,

The endurance of so-called ‘classical’ music is now firmly embedded in the traditions of western liturgical and secular music. Its continuing popularity confounds many people in our contemporary age who classify it as ‘elevator music’, or in other words ‘boring’.

Australian Festival  of Chamber Music in Townsville North QueenslandHowever, as a friend a distinguished scholar pointed out, ‘just as a palate can be educated to appreciate fine wine so too can the eye be educated to distinguish the rare from the ordinary or the exquisite from the mundane’ or the ear taught to appreciate the composition, presentation and style of music old and new. It’s really all about achieving and maintaining a standard of excellence.

AFCM 4So when you settle down to book your tickets online, be sure you have your wits about you and a thermos and packed lunch nearby. You will also need to put on your picking the form hat, because the choice is extraordinary.

AFCM 3Packages to select from, include Memberships, Gold Passes, Silver Passes and a comprehensive outline of events, artist profiles, program notes, festival bus timetables and general information about Townsville – a must have for all festival goers, especially if you haven’t been before.


Piers Lane

Having announced his retirement recently after 11 years of service, Piers Lane announced the 2018 AFCM Artistic Director designate, the highly distinguished UK pianist Kathryn Stott, will also join the festival in 2017 as a performer. Looking at what she’s taking on, she will need to posses great stamina both in performance and paperwork.

Kathryn Stott

Kathryn Stott, Artistic Director Designate 2018, Australian Festival Chamber Music

Premier and Minister for the Arts Annastacia Palaszczuk noted “… now in its 27th year, the Festival has established a solid international reputation as a result of its distinctive blend of chamber music, programming and experiences, all set against the natural beauty of Townsville in North Queensland. I congratulate outgoing Artistic Director, Piers Lane AO, for his dedication and leadership during his tenure with AFCM, and welcome Artistic Director designate and UK pianist Kathryn Stott who will bring a new energy to the role in 2018.”

Goldner String Quartet

Goldner String Quartet

Acclaimed Australian performers the Goldner String Quartet, Orava Quartet (Strings) and Nexus Quartet (Saxophone) will play alongside international artists making their Australian debut.

They include from Denmark Poul Høxbro (Flutes and Percussion), guest leader with the Danish Baroque orchestra Concerto Copenhagen, guest teacher at the renowned Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, and an appreciated storyteller in four languages.

Music 1Joining him from Italy will be Francesca Dego, one of the most sought after young violinists on the international scene, who in 2008 was the first Italian female prizewinner since 1961 of the renowned “Paganini Competition” in Genoa.

Martin OwenFrom the United Kingdom, Martin Owen one of Europe’s leading horn players is kept busy appearing as soloist and chamber musician around the world. He currently holds the position of Principal Horn at the BBC Symphony Orchestra, having previously served as Principal Horn of the Royal Philharmonic, and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

Henk Neven

Henk Neven, Baritone

Baritone Henk Neven from the Netherlands is acknowledged by his peers as an exciting interpreter of songs for his generation, having received the Dutch Music Prize in 2011, the highest honour the Netherlands Ministry of Culture awards to a classical musician.

Fine additions to this August line up  include those who have performed on Australian soil before include pianists Orli Shaham (USA) and Jayson Gillham (Australia).

Orli Shahams

Oril Shahams, detail of photo by Christian Steiner

Orli Shahams renowned performances internationally embrace both standard and modern repertoire. Her interactive concert series for young children, Baby Got Bach has become a ‘significant force in music education and entertainment for pre-schoolers’. She understands the importance of music in every child’s education, as she herself was recognized early for her exceptional talents.

Her first scholarship from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation was awarded at age five to study in Jerusalem. At age seven, she travelled to New York with her family to begin study with Nancy Stessin, and became a scholarship student at The Juilliard School a year later.She went on to pursue a master’s degree in musicology from Columbia University and today lives in New York from where she has established her international career and reputation as a gifted pianist.

Jayson at Montreal 2

Jayson Gillham on stage in Montreal, Canada

Queensland born pianist Jayson Gillham (UK/Australia) in 2005 was awarded third prize in the London International Piano Competition, the first ever Australian to reach the finals. He won the Australian National Piano Award in 2008 and today based in London, he has performed with many great internationally acclaimed orchestras at countless festivals and received many great awards and prizes for his confident and assured interpretations of the works of the great composers.

They will both be joined by Violinists Dimity Hall (Australia), the ever popular Jack Liebeck (UK) and Dene Olding (Australia).  Then there is Christopher Moore and Irina Morozova, both from Australia, Harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani (US/UK) in his Festival debut and accordion artist James Crabb (Scotland/Australia).

Julian Smiles 1

Julian Smiles, Cellist

Cellists include the famed Jiri Bárta from the Czech Republic, Julian Smiles representing Australia and Francis Gouton from France/Germany

Double Bass artists include Kees Boersma and Kirsty McCahon, both from Australia with internationally celebrated Alice Giles (Australia) on Harp,

Silver Flute 460Flautist Prudence Davis (Australia), on Oboe Jeffrey Crellin(Australia), on Clarinet Philip Arkinstall (Australia), Bassoonist Jack Schiller(Australia) and on Classical Guitar Craig Ogden (UK/Australia) will all contribute to this extraordinary line up of musicians.

International Recorder virtuoso Genevieve Lacey (Australia) will be sure to knock everyone’s socks off as will Trumpet player Tristram Williams (Australia) and award-winning percussionist, composer and director Timothy Constable (Australia).

Two Sopranos, the highly revered Cheryl Barker AO and Melbourne-born Natalie Christie Peluso plus Baritone Peter Coleman-Wright AO all representing Australia, will be sure to contribute to the vocal highlights.

Justin and Piers

Justin Ankus, Executive Director and Piers Lane, Artistic Director, Australian Festival of Chamber Music

Executive Director of the AFCM, Justin Ankus said he was thrilled to be managing the event in its 27th year.  “The Australian Festival of Chamber Music is fiercely loved by artists and guests alike and it’s an honour to be involved, guiding it forward and working alongside Piers Lane in his final festival, and Kathryn Stott as she takes up the artistic reins”.

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2017

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