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Growth Times For Chamber Music Festivals Around Australia

Huntington Estate Music Festival: ANAM Chamber Orchestra. Image Credit: Musica Viva
Graham Strahle
| January 31, 2018

Fine music, wine and food in intimate surroundings: it is a familiar combination that has proven to be exceptionally successful in Australia over the last three decades, and it continues to grow in strides. By the latest count, there are some 30 festivals around the country that are themed around this formula, over half (17) of which were established after the year 2000. The majority are held outside capital cities in regional areas, especially in the premier wine districts; and put together they run in all months of the year except February.

Many are weekend or three-day affairs hosted by wineries, but some of the larger ones – like the Australian Festival of Chamber Music, Four Winds and Huntington Estate Music Festival – have grown to become important, prestigious events in the national arts calendar. Each has built its reputation and success on engaging top-tier performers (many of whom also regularly appear in our major city arts festivals), forging a sense of identity within their local community, and staying relatively small in order to maintain an atmosphere of intimacy – audiences are typically around the 200 mark.

Pioneers in the field are the Huntington Festival (1989 – present) and, until it fell into permanent recess, the Barossa Music Festival (1990 – 2005); it is pertinent to note that the latter’s demise can be attributed to its over-reaching ambition to rival the large city festivals. Another forerunner that remains long remembered for its intimate, informal atmosphere and high level of music-making was the Mittagong Easter Festival, held by Musica Viva between 1960 and 1993.

This directory attempts to list all the currently operating, recognised chamber music festivals in each state. Given are their locality, start/founding year (in brackets), frequency, and usual month(s) held.

QLD

Australian Festival of Chamber Music, Townsville (1991), annual, July-August

Stradbroke Chamber Music Festival, North Stradbroke Island (2007), annual, July

NSW

Albury Chamber Music Festival, Albury (2016), annual, November

AWO Chamber Music Festival, NSW Southern Highlands (2014), annual, November; Australian World Orchestra event

Bangalow Music Festival, Bangalow (2002), annual, August; Southern Cross Soloists event

Bellingen Fine Music Festival, Bellingen (2010), annual, September

Bowral Autumn Music Festival, Bowral (2007), annual, March

Crossroads Chamber Music Festival, Gosford (2008), annual, March; Sydney Mozart Society event

Four Winds, Bermagui (1991), annual, March – April

Huntington Estate Music Festival, Mudgee (1989), annual, November; curated by Musica Viva

Musica Viva Festival, Sydney Conservatorium of Music (2008), biennial (from 2011), April

Music in the Hunter, Pokolbin (1991), annual, September; Goldner String Quartet are resident artists

Sydney Chamber Music Festival, Manly (2008), annual, October

Tyalgum Music Festival, Tyalgum (1991), annual, September

VIC

Dunkeld Festival of Music, Dunkfield (2004), annual, April; Australian String Quartet event

Music in the Round, (Melbourne Recital Centre), Abbotsford Convent, Melbourne (1972), annual, September

Organs of the Ballarat Goldfields, Ballarat (1995), annual, January

Peninsula Summer Music Festival, Mornington Peninsula (2008), annual, January

Port Fairy Spring Music Festival, Port Fairy (1990), annual, October

Sanguine Estate Music Festival, Bendigo and Heathcote (2011), annual, April

Strathvea Festival, Healesville (2012), annual, November

Tarrawarra Festival, Yarra Valley (2011), annual, March; Australian Chamber Orchestra event

TAS

Tasmanian Chamber Music Festival, Evandale (2017), annual, October

SA

Barossa Baroque and Beyond, Tanunda (2015), annual, September-October

Coriole Music Festival, McLaren Vale (1999), annual, May

Ukaria 24, Mount Barker (2016), annual, June

WA

Avon Valley Spring Chamber Music Festival, York, Toodyay and Northam (2004), annual, September

Margaret River Weekend of Music, various venues (2010), annual, April; Australian String Quartet event

Vasse Felix Festival, Margaret River (n/a), annual, December; Australian Chamber Orchestra event

NT

ACO Uluru Festival, Ayers Rock Resort (2015, again June 2017); Australian Chamber Orchestra event

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