Baroque Music Festival Falters – 21st Century Enlightenment?

Baroque BeautyDuring late March and early April 2014 it was my joy to spend quality time in Hobart, Tasmania where I attended many events of the second, much acclaimed world hit music festival Hobart Baroque.

It was great to see too The Tasmanian Times reported how ”…gratifying that after just two years the Hobart Baroque ‘brand’ is already recognised in musical circles worldwide”. Leo Schofield AM and Jarrod Carland created record-breaking numbers of people attending a brand new music festival, a feat second to none.

In a short, warm and emotive speech earlier this year, the Governor and his wife both expressed how much it meant to Tasmania, their marvelous music of friends festival was in Hobart. Hard to forget the personal and very touching tales they told to international and national guests gathered to kick start the fabulous 2014 season.

It would be fair to say it augured well for the future of the festival, the ongoing employment of musicians and future economy of Tasmania, especially with its boost to tourism. No one was prepared for the announcement overnight revealing the show would not go on in Tasmania in 2015.

The guys made a difficult decision to ring down the curtain on Hobart town. What these two amazing producers achieved ‘on the smell of an oily rag’, was nothing short of amazing. Their three year plan presented to the State Government faltered when it announced ‘past failures’ would not allow them to offer more than one year’s funding in the future.

Musical Man

It is understandable to anyone in small or large business today that the producers wanted a reasonable time to devote to building Hobart Baroque into the world event it deserves to be.

Five years for me would be a minimum time frame required to do that; in fact internationally producers or managers involved in building both a brand and reputation demand a decade!

However it faltered, because with the advent of the new government in Tasmania it seems vision is in ‘short supply’.

While some people may see current times are about ‘fence sitting’ it always requires bold action to re-invent the future.

At the essence of great art is its ability to affect not only our perceptions, but also our emotions.

With all the challenges its facing the decision of the state government may be understandable to some. However seems to me that they have overlooked how important music is in people’s lives and how integral it is to the growth and development of individual and community life.

As the prophet Kahlil Gibran observed ‘… music is the language of the spirit… it opens the secret of life bringing peace, abolishing strife’ and ‘a little knowledge that acts is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle’*

Leo Schofield brought with him a wealth of expertise and experience to the establishment of this festival.

His ability to attract people to participate and his own contribution to the success of the growth of arts and cultural development in Australia is integral to Australia’s success and economy for the last fifty years.

No other government in our history surely had it so good? He is a Member of the Order of Australia – ‘Australia celebrating Australians’!

In Australia today we need people in power who encourage the development of a principled and prosperous society by identifying and releasing human potential.

Surely this understanding is at the very heart and essence of 21st century enlightenment?

String quartetIn the past the arts, both the performance and visual arts have profoundly shaped and uplifted Australian society and there is no doubt it will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.

The friends, colleagues, musicians everywhere, and great artists all around the world as well as here at home will be praying hard for the dynamic duo, hoping they will bounce back in the grand manner of the Baroque and in their own indomitable style

We want to stand shoulder to shoulder and help them go forward, despite this bump in the road. Surely we have a city, council or state with people and vision to host this extraordinary event?

In Australia we need arts leaders with Leo Schofield AM and Jarrod Carland’s great energy, enthusiasm, expertise and genuine love for great art and artistry… please count on us, whatever we can do guys!

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2014

*Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

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