Bangalow Music Festival – fine food, stunning scenery, exquisite chamber music

by | Aug 16, 2022 | Ambassador thoughts

Bangalow Music Festival 2022

A weekend in the country with fine food, stunning scenery, and exquisite chamber music: that’s what the Bangalow Music Festival has to offer.

Now in its 19th edition, the festival brings this small town in Northern New South Wales to life. Held annually in August, it features our finest chamber musicians from Brisbane as well as some special guests.

After two years of covid cancellations, Southern Cross Soloists were finally able to present their program last weekend. It was great to be able to finally return to the festival and fill the town with music once again.

On Sunday, I attended the final day of the festival.

The concerts were held in Bangalow’s historic A&I Hall, a fitting setting for chamber music.

The Enchanted Virtuoso concert showcased the virtuosity of Southern Cross Soloists, Orava Quartet, and their friends. The musicians took turns in presenting solos, accompanied by a string octet. It began with cellist Jonathan Békés performing Vivaldi’s moving Cello Concerto in G Minor.

Artistic director Tania Frazer then performed Popora’s stunning Farinelli aria, evoking the spirit of the human soul on her oboe. Tania played with real sensitivity, letting the warm timbre of the oboe shine.

Soprano Sara Donnolly took the stage for Purcell’s Dido’s Lament and Handel’s Scoglio d’immorta fronte. She sang with deep emotion, filling the hall with her voice.

Jonathan Henderson and Emma McGrath joined forces for Teleman’s Concerto for flute and violin. They wove in and out in a conversation.

After the interval, piano powerhouse Maxwell Foster played Litloff’s Scherzo for piano. This was a fun and dazzling piece, with his fingers flying up and down the keyboard.

SXS violinist Alan Smith and violist James Wannan then performed a World Premiere of a new work by John Rotar. John is currently the composer-in-residence with SXS. This piece started dark and brooding, and then shifted into many different moods and colours.

To close, Ashley Smith performed Weber’s dramatic and turbulent Clarinet Concerto. He played with passion, swaying to the beat.

We then had the chance to explore Bangalow and find some lunch before the next concert.

The Festival Farewell concert brought the festival to a spectacular finish.

It started with Emma McGrath and Maxwell Foster for Debussy’s Violin Sonata. Emma depicted shifting colours, lights and shadows, with her violin.

Tania, Emma, Jonathan Békés, and pianist Vatche Jambazian took the stage to perform Lachlan Skipworth’s Oboe Quartet. This was a lyrical, reflective piece, with the instruments conversing in a conversation.

All the colours of the sea were then evoked in Debussy’s La Mer (The Sea). Arranged by John Rotar, this version showed off SXS’s power. They created an atmospheric, shimmering soundscape.

To close the festival, SXS and their friends performed Piazzolla’s Libertango. This was a fun and quirky piece, with demanding solos. The tango tune was thrown around the ensemble. SXS certainly seemed to enjoy playing this piece, and the audience loved it too. They received a standing ovation, and it was the perfect way to finish off a weekend of fine chamber music.

 

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About The Author

Claire Matthews

I was first introduced to classical music as a little girl, dancing ballet in a pink tutu. Although I’m not a ballerina now, my love of classical music lives on! I’m a marketer by day and a creative by night. In my free time, I love going to concerts, writing stories, painting landscapes, and playing violin and viola.

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