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 2019 Festival. The Marketing Coordinator will be responsible for the delivery of the Festival's 2019 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 Friday, 3 August. Read more.
12:00AM May 9, 2018
Twenty-five years ago, a group of music lovers in Canberra banded together to stage a small-scale festival in embassies, small halls and their houses. This past fortnight, the Canberra International Music Festival has presented a program of astonishing breadth and high performance standards.
The statistics alone are impressive: 25 official events, about the same number of unofficial ones, more than 100 pieces of music performed by as many musicians including several from the US and Europe, and numerous premieres — all on a $600,000 budget.
For his third festival, conductor Roland Peelman constructed his program around the notion of “returns”: memories of journeys into places and music of the past, a return to themes and venues familiar in recent years.
Again, the Fitters Workshop, until recently a disbanded warehouse near the Kingston Markets, has been the CIMF’s home venue. Its crystal-clear acoustic is ideal for almost everything (except keyboard and percussion) and its 450-seat capacity perfect for a small-scale festival.
However, it was the larger-scale works that impressed many, particularly the near-authentic performances of Handel’s oratorio Israel in Egypt and a batch of Bach cantatas, the stars of which were the Bach Akademie Australia led by Madeleine Easton. Roger Woodward gave two exhilarating concerts of Chopin and Debussy. Two string quartets, both products of the Sydney Conservatorium a decade apart, Orava and Pietra, gave splendidly fresh performances. New York-based fiddler Tim Fain drew gasps with his devilish lead in Stravinsky’s L’histoire du soldat and his solo role in Bernstein’s Serenade, a genuflection to Lenny in his centenary year. An hour-long concert in the Hall of Remembrance at the War Memorial seared the imagination. The most striking image and sonorous sounds came from the Seven Harp Ensemble, led by Alice Giles, on several occasions throughout the festival.
Amid the smattering of recent Australian music, several works by Mary Finsterer, this year’s composer-in-residence, afforded a rare view of the progress of a composer’s ethos across the past two decades, a journey from European-dominated modernism to Renaissance-inspired polyphony. In particular, her orchestral piece In Praise of Darkness (2009), inspired by the writings of Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges, drew out bleached colours and shadows in a coruscating 30-minute canvas.
Several European imports were presented in various guises. American composer-flautist Ned McGowan exhibited his prize piece of plumbing, the contrabass flute, and a concerto for iPad and computer sounds. Japanese fortepianist Keiko Shichijo captivated audiences with her Schubert and Beethoven. Harpist Benjamin Bagby told the medieval tale of Beowulf in the original old English. Mezzosoprano Kate Howden was the po-faced vocal narrator in a performance of Satie’s Socrate.
As it approaches its 25th year, the CIMF faces some challenges, not least the inadequacy of facilities at the Fitters Workshop, which urgently requires proper lighting, staging, artists rooms and toilets. Co-ordination of diaries would help: on two nights, scheduled concerts by the Canberra Symphony split audiences for both events. For the second year running, the Australian National University’s school of music was almost invisible, and the local Fairfax press published no reviews.
Like many festivals, CIMF has experienced a rollercoaster ride. Its history is extraordinary, if only for its perseverance. It needs to be recorded in a book, alongside exhibitions, websites and revisitations of its accomplishments, notably the pieces commissioned each year.
The festival now attracts about 15 per cent of its audiences from outside the ACT region. Like the contributing national institutions, CIMF is part of the fabric of cultural tourism of our national capital. It is high time its local government responded with a birthday present worthy of the festival’s 25th anniversary.
Canberra International Music Festival, Fitters Workshop, Kingston, ACT, April 27-May 6.
Read the article online here.
Our 2018 season enjoyed a wealth of media coverage, both from local media outlets and nationally. Here are just some of the highlights as featured in Limelight Magazine, Canberra Critics Circle, and City News, the latter who once again took on the ambitious project of reviewing the 2018 program in its entirety!
Woodward looked exhausted as he walked off, but graciously returned for two short encores. Sometimes music reviewers have the privilege of hearing something quite exceptional. This was one of those occasions.
-Concert 3: Roger Woodward I, reviewed by Graham McDonald, City News, 29 April 2018
With the addition of Andrew Fysh singing bass, the vocalists returned to the stage to perform Kantate BWV 175, ‘Er ruftet seinen Schafen’. It was pleasing to hear Tobias Cole perform the aria, Komm, leite mich, his male alto providing a strong and distinctive voicing in the work. The splendid Chorale: ‘Nun, werter Geist, ich folg dir’,sparkled at the conclusion of the Kantate, lingering like a blessing from the composer at the end of the concert.
-Concert 5: Bach on Sunday, reviewed by Jennifer Gall, Canberra Critics Circle, 3 May 2018
The Festival Strings did a magnificent job, navigating the tempo variations; never faltering as they recreated Spring birdsong, a Summer storm, a wild Autumn dance party, and shivering crashing Winter icicles, all with the intensity of Richter's demanding minimalist score. Tim Fain grasped the challenging soloist role and led the musical exploration deftly while Roland Peelman kept a steady hand on the harpsichord directing the ensemble with his trademark precision.
-Concert 4: Four Seasons, reviewed by Jennifer Gall, Canberra Critics Circle, 29 April 2018
A Summer-sun-drenched performance of Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence, played by the young Orava Quartet joined by violist James Wannan and cellist Miles Mullin-Chivers brought the cheering audience to its feet. For some, the first half was equally satisfying: a gorgeous performance of the short Impromptu in G flat by Schubert played on the fortepiano by Keiko Shichijo followed by Beethoven’s Violin Sonata Op. 96. ... This was a musical experience of the highest order.
-Concert 7: Classic Souvenir, reviewed by Vincent Plush, Limelight Magazine, 1 April 2018
All the while, the man at the helm, Roland Peelman, was in high emotion, with extraordinarily expressive but tightly-controlled conducting, pulling every sensitivity and colour, passion and mind’s-eye picture out of this truly inspiring work.
It was a privilege to witness such superb musicianship from these fabulous Australian musicians. Five stars to them all.
-Concert 9: Israel in Egypt, reviewed by Clinton White, 1 May 2018, City News
For anyone who hasn’t heard of Orava Quartet, I urge you to pick up a copy of their debut recording with Deutsche Grammophon Australia. This young ensemble is rapidly becoming one of the most exciting voices in the art music world.
Last night’s performance of chamber music by Haydn, Rachmaninoff, Debussy and the rarely heard Erwin Schulhoff, was masterful, imaginative and electric.
Concert 14: Orava Quartet, reviewed by Judith Crispin, 4 May 2018, City News
Some might say this was a pleasant Saturday afternoon concert, but that cruelly understates the superb musicianship of these young players, who gave us a performance of supreme beauty and musical satisfaction.
-Concert 19: The Trout, reviewed by Clinton White, 6 May 2018, City News
Overall, Bagby’s rendition of Beowulf was fascinating and entertaining… and … offered a different and deeply satisfying performance experience, one for which Bagby was repaid at the end of the two hours with a standing ovation. It would be fascinating to see the marathon epic performed in full.
-Concert 20: Beowulf, reviewed by Angus McPherson, Limelight Magazine, 7 May 2018
This is music that does not bellow out its statement; it is introspective and delicate and it is Plato’s subtle telling of the loss of a friend and fellow philosopher Socrates. The performances of Keiko Shichijo and Kate Howden mirrored one another in style and sensitivity; they created a distinctive partnership.
Concert 22: Barbara Blackman's Festival Blessing, reviewed by Rob Kennedy, City News, 7 May 2018
Australia’s most innovative art music Festival, the Canberra International Music Festival, is seeking to appoint a General Manager to run the day to day operations of our office and the management/administrative functions associated with presenting the Festival each year. The appointment is a permanent part-time position.
Enquiries can be directed in the first instance to Board Chair, Bev Clarke
Email: email@example.com or 0408 227 315.
Applications close COB Friday 6 July 2018.
For further information please click here.
Our popular Talk of the Town series is back in 2018, with three intimate chats in the serene setting of Gorman Arts Centre, as well as a special masterclass at the ANU School of Music! Ask that burning musical question. Hear the story that drives exceptional artists to pursue a path less travelled. Listen to world-class musicians as they demonstrate their craft.
FRIDAY 27 April, 2:00pm | Main Hall, Gorman Arts Centre
Meet two major protagonists of the violin: New York based Tim Fain of Philip Glass fame and Cecilia Bernardini, Dutch-Italian specialist of baroque and classical violin. A discussion on versatility, virtual reality and the rewards and challenges of classical music in the digital age.
MONDAY 30 April, 4:00pm | Larry Sitsky Room, ANU School of Music
Be a fly on the wall at this Roger Woodward masterclass and gain a rare insight into the working methods of a master pianist. With young pianists Rachael Shipard and Aaron Chew.
TUESDAY 1 May, 2:00pm | Main Hall, Gorman Arts Centre
Two home grown Australian quartets: Orava Quartet reflecting on their first ten years share stories with the freshly-minted Pietra Quartet.
THURSDAY 3 May, 2:00pm | Main Hall, Gorman Arts Centre
Four international festival artists call Amsterdam home: celebrated fortepiano specialist Keiko Shichijo, flautist and composer Ned McGowan along with Adrian Brown and Susanna Borsch from Dapper’s Delight. All four have carved out a unique creative pathway in a very competitive environment.
Tickets for all three events just $10.00. Light refreshments and a short performance included in the ticket price for the three Gorman House events. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us online at www.cimf.org.au
Celebrated harp soloist Alice Giles AM has received her antique 18th century harp just in time for its Australian debut at the Canberra International Music Festival. The harp was made in Paris by Godefroi Holzman around 1785. Decorated with ebonised lacquer and guilt Chinoiserie and a painted soundboard after the style of Watteau, it has been lovingly restored to perfect playing condition by the London based antique harp expert Michael Parfett.
The acclaimed musician is delighted with the instrument restoration. “The harp sounds so beautiful I just want to sit and play it all day,” says Alice Giles. “It was a risk because I bought it at online auction in the UK with only Michael’s evaluation of it in an unrestored condition. It’s rare to find such an even sounding fullness of tone - it surpasses reproduction instruments in this way as you can hear the maturity of the centuries.
“Basically the whole harp had to be taken apart: woodworm holes filled, soundboard re-set and the mechanism repaired. It has all been brought back into great shape. I didn’t want it re-gilded though, because I want to cherish its venerable age as a working instrument, not as an antique.”
String players are used to the idea of playing on an instrument with history, but it is a special feeling for a harpist. The ‘touch’ is completely different from a modern harp as the tension is much looser. The tone is quite different also - clear and bell-like.
“In general the French harps from this period have a very particular sound quality, which I just really love,” enthuses Giles.
The instrument is typical of a kind of renaissance of harp making in Paris. As well as becoming the instrument of choice for elegant and educated young women, many accomplished harpists were developing a new technique at the instrument, writing methods and performing solo works. It is worth noting that Mozart wrote his flute and harp concerto in Paris at exactly this time.
The harp will see its Australian debut in an interlude as part of Handel’s ‘Saul’ during Concert 1: Opening Gala on Friday 27 April, 7:30pm in the Fitters’ Workshop.
Alice Giles will also be appearing with the Seven Harp Ensemble (SHE) as part of Concert 4: Four Seasons on Saturday 28 April, 8:00pm in the Fitters’ Workshop.
For more information, or to buy tickets, visit cimf.org.au/2018-whats-on
"This autumn, you'd be hard pressed to find a more cultural experience than the Canberra International Music Festival: ten days of bliss for the eyes, the ears… and tastebuds. The Festival has it all: from medieval bards to baroque excellence, from classic refinement to contemporary discoveries, interspersed with gallery visits, forums, discussions and culinary tastings. Indeed, the mix of international guests with something to say, Australians at the top of their game, eager young musicians and senior artists with a lifetime of experience creates a heady brew.
"Music making may be the centrepiece of the Festival but the experience is all encompassing. Come see for yourself between 27 April - 6 May, the 24th Canberra International Music Festival."
Roland Peelman, Artistic Director
Discovery and re-discovery make the Festival experience so wonderful. So why not treat yourself and take in more than just one event at CIMF2018? Here are some recommendations to get you started:
If you like Israel in Egypt, you'll love Il Ritorno
Wednesday, 2 May at 6:30pm
One of the great pillars of Italian opera, Monteverdi’s Il ritorno is a study in humanity and compassion. Featuring Chloe Lankshear, soprano; Kate Howden, mezzo-soprano; Tobias Cole, countertenor; Dan Walker, tenor; Andrew Fysh, bass - along with an all star cast of Festival artists.
If you like The Trout, you'll love Classsic Souvenir
Sunday, 29 April at 6:30pm
Beethoven's Sonata op. 96 is characteristic of his late style: ineffable beauty and restrained exaltation. Performed by Cecilia Bernardini and Keiko Shichijo, two of Europe’s most respected performers on historic instruments of the early 19th century.
If you liked Antiqua Forma, you'll love I Bassifondi
Saturday, 5 May at 11am
Led by Roman lute/theorbo player Simone Vallerotonda, I Bassifondi – freely translated as “the wrong side of the tracks” – have recently shot to fame with irreverent and catchy versions of guitar music from the 16th and 17th century.
For the full Festival line-up, visit cimf.org.au/2018-whats-on/