40 artists, 5 world premieres and 5 Australian debuts to headline in Townsville
The Australian Festival of Chamber Music (AFCM) keeps raising the bar, and this year under the leadership of acclaimed Artistic Director Kathryn Stott, the event will feature five world premieres, five Australian premieres and 40 of the best chamber musicians on the planet – including 15 international artists, five of whom are performing in Australia for the first time.
Taking over Townsville for 10 days of internationally famed music-making from Friday 26 July to Sunday 4 August, the AFCM will celebrate music from over 80 composers, 21 of whom are alive today. Details were announced this week by Artistic Director Kathryn Stott, who flew into Australia from her UK home to celebrate the unveiling of the program and tickets going on sale.
“The 2019 Program is wrapped around the theme of ORIGINS, drawing on origins of the music, the composers and the artists. An abundance of music features - from the 13th century to the present day - representing cultures from all around the world. There is also a mini-focus on trios including giants like the Rachmaninov, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky Piano Trios, alongside smaller gems by Sibelius, Koechlin and more,” she said.
“In a first for the festival, the performance of two unusual and large-scale chamber works will feature. The Opening Night Concert, titled Creations, will include the Jean Françaix Dixtuor for wind and string quartets, while in the Closing Night concert, called Full Circle, we will feature the Joachim Raff Sinfonietta for double wind quintet – both will be incredible musical events,” she said.
“On Friday 2nd August as part of the Evening Series concert Homelands we will present the world premiere of Ye Xiaogang’s Gardenia, a movement for 11 mixed instruments including the pipa, clarinet, percussion, piano, French horn, oboe, violins and double bass – yet another exciting AFCM moment in musical history.”
Minister for the Arts, Leeanne Enoch MP said the Australian Festival of Chamber Music was a wonderful celebration of chamber music, set against North Queensland’s natural beauty and world famous tropical landscapes. “The Queensland Government is proud to be a long-time major supporter of AFCM,” Minister Enoch said. “The festival is a great arts experience and key cultural tourism event for Queensland, drawing thousands of visitors to Townsville to share in the joy of music.”
Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones invited visitors to explore the spectacular coastal and island landscapes of the region throughout the event, which features on the It’s Live! in Queensland events program. “The festival program creates a unique journey to experience the tourism icons of Townsville and the Great Barrier Reef,” Ms Jones said. “The Queensland Government, via Tourism and Events Queensland, is proud to support events like the Australian Festival of Chamber Music which drive visitation and showcase our tourism experiences.”
In a move that will be applauded by Australian audiences, the 2019 Composer-in-Residence is emerging talent, Brisbane-born and London-based Connor D’Netto. World premieres by D’Netto and fellow Australian composer Jessica Wells will feature.
In another stunning coup for Stott, and in keeping with her musical ace last year in hosting celebrated Chinese musician and master Sheng player Wu Tong, the world’s premier pipa virtuoso and leading ambassador of Chinese music, Wu Man will make her Festival debut. A founding member of the legendary Silk Road Ensemble with celebrated cellist Yo-Yo Ma, she will be joined by the who’s who of chamber music, with half of the artists making their AFCM debut.
German-Canadian cellist Johannes Moser, hailed by Gramophone Magazine as "one of the finest among the astonishing gallery of young virtuoso cellists," is an AFCM debut artist in 2019, as is the Grammy-nominated Estonian-born bassoon virtuoso, Martin Kuuskmann, who is now based in the US.
Making their debut performances in Australia at the 2019 AFCM include celebrated violinists Alexandra Conunova from Moldova and Liza Ferschtman from Holland, oboist Rachael Clegg from the UK, violist Jennifer Stumm from the USA and UK-based Roberto Carrillo Garcia who plays the gamba, double bass and guitar.
Australian-born, London-based super saxophonist Amy Dickson, fresh from being named the UK’s Young Australian of the Year 2016 and Grammy™ nominated twice, returns to the AFCM in 2019. Dickson made history by becoming the first saxophonist to win a Classic Brit Award and the first ever Australian to win the Mastercard Breakthrough Artist of the Year award.
Four ensembles will make their way to Townsville for the event including Adelaide-based Australian String Quartet, the Melbourne-based Ensemble Liaison, Arcadia Winds (who make their AFCM debut) and the Festival’s much loved Quartet-in-Residence, the Goldner String Quartet from Sydney.
Kathryn Stott said there were some new themes in store for audiences this year. “We will give Bach by Candlelight a little breathing space in order to explore Baroque music from Italy and beyond with Baroque Around the Clock and Bellissimo Baroque two new highlights. The much-loved Families’ Concert will focus on storytelling for children and to add to this, I’ve commissioned a dramatic short story called ‘The Final Hour’ so none of us are left out! The Final Hour will be performed in the glorious St James’ Cathedral, providing the perfect atmospheric backdrop to this noteworthy musical tale with a twist.”
The 29th AFCM takes place in Townsville from Friday 26th July to Sunday 4th August and features 22 concerts, five free events and three special events including an extraordinary concert on Orpheus Island and one on Magnetic Island. The program includes six morning Concert Conversations, the Sunset and Evening Series concerts, inspirational Winterschool masterclasses and performances as well as a new time and format for the entertaining Cleveland Bay Concert.
Some of the Festival’s favourite events include the Opening Night Concert, the Governor’s Gala on Saturday evening, the much-anticipated free Queens Garden Concert and Concert Conversations at The Ville where audiences can get up close and personal with the musicians.
In 2019, the Festival will collaborate with Strand Ephemera, which is on at the same time, and deliver several music events that encourage visitors to enjoy the stunning sculptures along The Strand and music in the outdoors.