As more than 500 NRL personal across 12 clubs relocate to Queensland to avoid the Sydney lockdown, they are not the only professionals headed to the sunshine state – almost 30 of the country’s leading chamber musicians are also flying north from Victoria, Adelaide and Tasmania to perform at the 30th Australian Festival of Chamber Music (AFCM).
While the Sydney COVID situation threw a major curveball to Festival organisers, cancelling was never considered! Instead, Artistic Director Kathryn Stott replaced 19 artists in a week, with all set to head north over the next few days to be ready for opening night next Friday, July 23.
In what has been a masterclass in programming under pressure and proving northing can stop the music, Stott has been able to repopulate the program, and maintain all concerts and concert titles, including staging two world premieres and four Australian premieres, with 21 artists now making their AFCM debut.
Twenty-four musicians from Victoria, including seven who answered the call just last week, are headed to Townsville. Making their AFCM debuts are soprano saxophonist Joseph Callo, oboist Rachel Bullen, double bassist Jill Griffiths and four members of the Affinity Quartet, violinists Nicholas Waters and Josephine Chung, violist Ruby Shirres and cellist Mee Na Lojewski.
They join fellow Victorian musicians Zoë Black (violin), Lloyd Van’t Hoff (clarinet), Timothy Young (piano), Blair Harris (cello), Christopher Moore (viola), Kristian Chong (piano), Nicolas Fleury (horn), Yasmim Rowe (piano), Yelian He (cello), Jacqueline Porter (soprano) and Elina Faski (cello). Twenty-four year old pianist Kevin Chow will appear as part of his ABC Young Performers Award and when Melbourne’s violin prodigy, 13-year old Christan Li performs in Townsville, he will make history as the youngest ever artist at AFCM.
Flying in from Adelaide is Elizabeth Layton (violin), Grace Clifford (violin), Mark Gaydon (bassoon) and author Emily Gann who is narrating the famous Families Concert. ABC Classic host Christopher Lawrence joins from Tasmania as the Festival Host.
Making the two hour flight north from Brisbane is music super couple Natsuko Yoshimoto (violin) and Imants Larsen (viola) as well as Daniel de Borah (piano), Virginia Taylor (flute) and Adam Chalabi (violin and Winterschool Director).
Legendary Australian pianist and toast of the world’s great concert halls, Piers Lane (and former AFCM Artistic Director) arrived in Australia a few weeks ago and is safely in Queensland already, as is internationally applauded didgeridoo star William Barton who returns to the Festival to celebrate the milestone 30th anniversary with his own compositions.
In these extra-ordinary times, I’m so excited that the Festival is still going ahead! Many of our Sydney-based musicians have been caught in the current lockdown situation, and therefore the 2021 event, themed Carnival has re-emerged with adjustments to the program and artist line-up.
It’s amazing to find musicians willing to step up at such short notice, and in particular, to be enticed into as much of the original program as possible. I’ve been very touched by this incredible generosity of spirit. Everyone is determined to make this Festival a success and to make their way to Townsville despite everything.
HOW TO GET THERE: TRAVEL PACKAGES TO TOWNSVILLE FOR THE AFCM
AFCM has partnered with SeaLink and Brilliant Travels to deliver three holiday packages priced from $380 per person and each featuring three nights’ accommodation and three concerts. Additional nights, extra concerts, day tours and more can be added, including the popular Magnetic Island concerts. The four AFCM holiday package hotels are quality properties in fabulous locations including The Ville Resort – Casino, Rydges Southbank, The Park Regis Anchorage and The Grand Chancellor. Visitors can choose from an Opening Weekend, Closing Weekend or mid-week Sunset package:
Australian Festival of Chamber Music Opening Weekend Extravaganza: 23-26 July 2021
A hugely popular package with three favourite concerts included: the Festival Opening Night concert on Friday 23 July, Saturday morning’s Concert Conversations 1 and the Governor’s Gala concert featuring the world premiere and AFCM commission of Goldner Variations ‘Ode to Joy’ on 24 July. Priced from $456 per person twin share, less for AFCM Friends.
Australian Festival of Chamber Music Sunset Spectacular: 27-30 July
The perfect package for newcomers or those keen to relax and unwind in the winter warmth. This package includes three nights’ accommodation and three 5pm Sunset Series concerts including Brilliant Baroque on 27 July and the Australian premiere of Immortal Beloved on 28 July. Priced from $380 per person twin share, less for AFCM Friends.
Australian Festival of Chamber Music Closing Weekend Indulgence: 30 July – 2 August
Soak up the exuberance of the festival’s closing weekend with this package that includes Friday night’s Wild Spirit concert, the final Concert Conversations on Saturday morning and the hugely entertaining Festival Farewell concert on Saturday evening, 31 July. Priced from $440 per person twin share, less for AFCM Friends.
Venue: Townsville Queensland
Date:23 July T0 02 Aug-21
For more information click HERE