2017 Canberra International Music Festival announces major changes to artist line-up

The Canberra International Music Festival (CIMF) regrets to announce that the Canadian Brass has cancelled its Australian tour and will not be appearing at the Festival in 2017. The group will be replaced in the program by the James Morrison Quintet for a feature concert at the Fitter’s Workshop on Saturday 29 April.

The incomparable James Morrison

The incomparable James Morrison

The Festival’s Artistic Director, Roland Peelman, says “We are sorry for our patrons and supporters who were looking forward to the Canadian Brass concert, but the circumstances are completely beyond our control. However, we are delighted to welcome the James Morrison Quintet at the festival. Not only has he adjusted his schedule to make this possible,  we can hear him with his Quintet, a line up of talent that is rarely seen with James at the heart of it. He is a true force of nature, one of the all-time great brass players.”

Canadian violin superstar Alexandre da Costa

Canadian violin superstar Alexandre da Costa

With the help of the High Commission of Canada, the Festival has been able to secure the remarkable Canadian violinist, Alexandre da Costa, for our Opening Gala concert. He belongs to that rarified circle of super star violinists working around the globe. Roland continues, "It will be an extraordinary occasion to have him at our Opening Gala alongside the Simon Bolivar String Quartet, and our very own Lisa Moore and William Barton.”

The Festival will offer patrons a direct transfer of their Canadian Brass ticket to the James Morrison Quintet, or a full refund if desired. All affected patrons are being contacted directly. If further information is required, patrons are asked to contact the Festival office on info@cimf.org.au or (02) 6230 5880.

For more information about the 2017 Canberra International Music Festival, please contact Marketing Coordinator Krista Vincent at marketing@cimf.org.au or 02 6182 0023.


CIMF talks about Chinese music with composer Nicholas Ng

Dr. Nicholas Ng is a composer, performer, and Chinese instruments scholar who recently appeared at our 2017 Festival launch. We were absolutely captivated by his performance, a spellbinding piece composed by Nicholas himself and performed a gourd flute - an ancient Chinese instrument many of us had never seen before! With such a strong focus on Chinese music and instruments in our upcoming Festival, we wanted to know more. We asked Nicholas some questions about the history and practice of Chinese music, how he got involved in the field, and what to listen for.

Nicholas Ng performing at the 2017 Festival launch. Photo by Peter Hislop

Nicholas Ng performing at the 2017 Festival launch. Photo by Peter Hislop

Q How did you become interested in Chinese instruments?
This story doesn't start pleasantly: I had a breakdown on the piano in my early teens while preparing for an AMus exam, so my teacher suggested composing and studying the music of my cultural heritage. I started researching traditional Chinese music and kept this interest up during my BMus at Sydney University and PhD at ANU. This took me into communities in Australia and abroad where mainstream and not so mainstream Chinese instruments are played. I have come across many interesting instruments along the way!
Q How much of the songs are traditional and passed on through generations. How much is improvised?
There are many genres of Chinese music where traditional tunes have been passed down through the ages. This includes the various types of Chinese opera, the zizhu ('silk and bamboo') repertories, and other folk and sacred genres. A lot of this music was orally taught, but over time, a system of tablature notation evolved for each instrument family, mainly as a learning tool and memory aid. This notation does not include ornamentation and other musical elements of performance practice that only experienced performers are able to teach.

There is much improvisation found in folk and older genres of music, such as music composed for the qin (7-stringed zither). Meanwhile, the 'classical' genre that was developed and refined with the building of conservatories in the 1950s does not call for much improvisation at all. This music is notated in jianpu, a kind of cipher script brought to China via 19th century missionaries from Europe.

Q The gourd instrument you played in our Festival launch, does it work like the sheng (mouthorgan)?  
The hulusi (gourd pipe) is similar to the sheng (mouthorgan) in that it is a wind instrument with reeds in its drone pipes. Both instruments are built around a wind chamber. However, the hulusi has a main fingering pipe, quite similar to a recorder with 6 finger holes and 1 left-hand thumb hole at the back of the pipe.

Q All the Chinese instruments will be represented at our 2017 festival: pipa, erhu, zhang, sheng, dizi, etc…. Were they always meant to be played together?
There is a wealth of archaeological evidence (statues, paintings, murals) from roughly 500 AD depicting small and large ensembles of Chinese instruments played at court and at various ritual events. Many of these instruments were imported from the Turkish side of the Silk Road and eventually Sinicized (for instance the Arab zurna became the Chinese suona). Meanwhile all 'foreign' modes were stamped out during the purist Ming Dynasty so that only the pentatonic and heptatonic modes prevailed. Similar to other folk music genres around the world, there was no conductor while the performers played variants of the the same melody together in heterophony. This music is still heard in the zizhu ('silk and bamboo') ensembles of China.

Q Where does the notion of Chinese orchestra stem from?
The notion of a Chinese 'orchestra', where there is a conductor leading a very large group of musicians, stems from the late 18th to early 20th centuries. Many Chinese artists and scholars of the time began studying French art and music, and a kind of intellectual revolution erupted with the sentiment that Chinese music was antiquated, out of tune, and in need of major adjustment!

And so an orchestra of traditional instruments developed. Duplicate lines of carefully orchestrated music were executed by instruments organised en masse into sections of bowed, plucked and struck strings, and percussion (there is no brass section). French and Russian-flavoured triadic harmonies were adopted in arrangements of folk tunes and new compositions, and physical modifications were made to the instruments themselves for playing in equal temperament.

Q Is it important to understand the Chinese language and its syntax in order to ‘understand’ Chinese music?
I think there are numerous benefits from understanding the language, especially if the music you are trying to appreciate is sung. However, it is important to point out there are many genres of Chinese music and in fact many languages spoken amongst the Han Chinese majority group and 55 ethnic minorities. While Mandarin is the language spoken in the capital of Beijing and therefore all throughout China, many dialects of Mandarin are prevail amongst the Han majority itself, some so far removed and unrelated that they are mutually unintelligible.

The greatest divide in language, culture and music within the Han Chinese population is between the north and south. The language of the north, Mandarin, is a modern construct developed with many Mongolian, Manchurian and even Russian influences. It is spoken with 4 tones. The languages and dialects of the south are considered much older and closer to ancient Chinese, and their tones number up to as many as 9.

So to really appreciate Chinese music, I believe it is important to take into account the genre, its origin, and the language (or dialect) associated with it.

Dr Nicholas Ng is an award-winning performer, composer and researcher. Committed to the practice of Chinese music and the awareness of Chinese culture in Australia, Nicholas co-established the Australian National University Chinese Music Ensemble (2003) and edited ENCOUNTERS: Musical meetings between Australia and China, a book based on the festival that he curated while working at Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University (2010). He now teaches erhu at Sydney Conservatorium of Music in the newly established Chinese Music Ensemble course.

Nicholas's compositions can be heard in Concert 14: Harvest of Endurance, an evening of stories and music that commemorate Chinese immigration to Australia, inspired by the eponymous 50-meter painted scroll. Thursday May 4 at 6:30 pm, National Museum of Australia.

You can hear music performed on Chinese instruments at Concert 7: Red Dragon, a scenic outdoor concert featuring the Chinese Oriental Orchestra. Monday May 1 at 11am, Embassy of Peoples Republic of China.

Singapore's Ding Yi Company

Singapore's Ding Yi Company

Singapore's Ding Yi Ensemble mix traditional Chinese music with Western influences for a truly modern sound. You can hear them on Tuesday 2 May at 11am with Concert 9: Taking Flight, a free musical showcase hosted by the Canberra Airport. And don't miss their headline concert the following day with Concert 10: The Lion's Roar, your chance to experience an intimate performance with this unique ensemble. Tuesday 2 May at 4pm, Ainslie Arts Centre.

Two new faces for the Canberra International Music Festival

Krista Vincent

Krista Vincent

The Canberra International Music Festival welcomes two new key staff with the hiring of Production Manager Rachel Gould and Marketing Coordinator Krista Vincent. Rachel and Krista bring a wealth of arts sector experience as well as an international perspective that will strengthen and enhance the festival team. These two new positions are made possible in part by substantial public investments following the success of the 2016 season. Defying industry trends, the 2016 Festival enjoyed record attendance with sell-out concerts and attracted over 6,400 attendees with its reputation for excellence and sense of adventure.

Rachel Gould is well known in Canberra, where she has worked as a professional musician and arts administrator for the past 10 years. Graduating from the ANU School of Music with a BMus Performance degree in clarinet, Rachel has performed with the Canberra Symphony Orchestra and also worked as the Orchestra Manager for the Canberra Pops Orchestra. Rachel has a strong background in event management, working as the Production Manager of the 2008 Pacific School Games Opening Ceremony, Operations Manager of the National Folk Festival (2009–12) and delivered hundreds of events in 2013 as part of the Centenary of Canberra team. More recently Rachel has been working for Musica Viva in an outreach role and is regularly seen backstage at Llewellyn Hall as a stage manager for various local and touring productions.

I’m thrilled to be returning to CIMF, which I have had a strong association with over many years. In fact I’ll be returning to the production manager role which I held from 2005–08 with then Director Nicole Canham. It’s amazing to see how much the festival has grown and flourished over the years, and I can’t wait to be part of what is shaping up to be a very exciting 2017 program.” Rachel Gould, Production Manager.

Marketing coordinator Krista Vincent comes to us by way of St. John’s, Newfoundland. With over 20 years of performing experience throughout Canada and Europe, Krista holds music and ethnomusicology degrees from McGill University, the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, and Memorial University of Newfoundland. She spent eight years in the Netherlands, working with leading composers and internationally renowned groups including Martijn Padding, Leine Roebana and ZT Hollandia. In Canada, Krista worked as a collaborative pianist and was artistic director of the Ora Ensemble, creating performance events that blended elements of new music, visual art and performance theatre. For the last two years, she held the role of General Manager of the Tuckamore Chamber Music Festival.

I am so impressed with the vibrancy and sophistication of the music scene here in the ACT, and look forward to working with the staff and volunteers in attracting many more new music lovers to the wonderful adventure that is the Canberra International Music Festival.” Krista Vincent, Marketing Coordinator.

The upcoming 2017 Festival, titled Revolution: A Music Adventure from the Barricades of Time, will span 11 music-filled days and nights between 27 April and 7 May. Artistic Director Roland Peelman brings together a program of expertly curated performances that tell the story of major societal upheaval throughout history, told through the powerful, provocative, and oftentimes transcendental music these events have inspired. More information about the 2017 Festival, including complete schedule and ticket information, will be announced in December. For all the latest news, stay tuned to www.cimf.org.au, join our mailing list, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

On behalf of the entire CIMF Team, we warmly welcome Rachel and Krista. We are delighted to have you with us!

We're hiring - Marketing Coordinator

Are you passionate about music and want to take the next step in your marketing career? The Canberra International Music Festival is looking for a new part-time Marketing Coordinator to help spread the word about the 2017 Festival. The Marketing Coordinator will be responsible for delivery the Festival's 2017 Marketing Plan and there is the opportunity to expand the role into a management position depending on the successful candidate's experience. Applications close on the 21 October. Read more.

New Faces and New Funding for the Canberra International Music Festival

The Canberra International Music Festival is strengthening its team after a record number of people attended the 2016 Festival. This week the Festival announced the appointment of a new General Manager and substantial investments from the Australia Council for the Arts as well as the ACT Event Fund. Having earned a reputation for excellence and a sense of adventure, the Festival is preparing the way for the 2017 Festival, earmarked for 27 APRIL to 7 MAY 2017.

A record number of people attended the 2016 Festival with sell-out concerts and over 6,400 attendees, an increase of 9% over the previous year. At a time when the classical music industry in Australia is experience a downturn in audience numbers, this increase is a testament to the Festival’s growing popularity and Canberra’s maturing arts scene.

The Festival’s success in attracting new music lovers has been recognised by the Australia Council for the Arts in a very competitive market. Its recent announcement that the Festival has been successful in receiving Project Funding has been strengthened by the ACT Government’s renewed commitment from the ACT Event Fund. These funds arrive at an auspicious time and will allow Roland Peelman and the team to continue building the Festival.

“This Festival has come of age, and in a sophisticated city such as Canberra, the music Festival can connect with the age, the many strands of thought and experience. We are so grateful that the people of Canberra can make a Festival like this possible, both for our audiences here and our visitors.” Roland Peelman, Artistic Director.

The Festival is delighted to welcome Gavin Findlay as its new General Manager. Gavin is well known in Canberra’s musical community having been Director of Canberra Youth Music from 1997-2002. He originally studied tuba and played with the Tasmania Symphony Orchestra for eight years before moving into arts management and later the Australian Public Service. For the last two years he has been President of MusicACT, campaigning successfully to improve ACT Government policy and regulation to better support live music and cultural events.  A noted multi-instrumentalist, Gavin appears regularly on stage with groups such as the Canberra Wind Symphony and electronic group Ample-Sample. For Gavin, working with the Festival was an opportunity too good to miss:

“I’m over the moon to be appointed to the role at such an important moment in the Festival’s history. It’s obviously already a very well-run organisation and I am really looking forward to working with Roland and drawing on all my skills to maximise our potential in every aspect of the operation.” Gavin Findlay, General Manager.

The Canberra International Music Festival will release more details about its 2017 program in November this year, visit www.cimf.org.au and stay tuned for more details.

For more information about the 2017 Canberra International Music Festival, including interviews and high resolution images, please contact Miranda Borman, the Festival’s Marketing and Communications Consultant, on 0434 100 571 or miranda.borman@cimf.org.au