The 2019 Newcastle Music Festival is officially underway! classikON sat down with the Festival’s Co-Artistic Directors, Ross Fiddes and Dr. David Banney to find out why the Festival is well worth attending (hint: the answer involves “great locations, beautiful city surroundings, and extraordinary performances”).
Now in its 4th year, the annual Newcastle Music Festival has fast established itself as a musical force with which to be reckoned. This year’s programme boasts a whopping 33 events spread over 13 days, involving over 350 performers who comprise a mix of “brilliant locals and inspiring guests”.
The Festival has also always prided itself on the inclusion of myriad musical styles in its program, and this year is no different: “from chamber music to orchestras, from choirs to vocal recitals, opera, jazz, contemporary and world music, there is sure to be something for everyone”.
The pairing of music and food proved itself popular in the 2018 Festival, and has returned for 2019, with tickets still remaining for Peter Guy’s performance of French organ music in the majestic Christ Church Cathedral, accompanied by Toulouse sausage, French onion soup and crusty bread!
This year’s Festival has some innovative new inclusions, such as Sensory Concerts® for children and adults with special needs. Presented by the members of the highly accomplished Cumulus Trio (also performing a concert at the Newcastle Art Gallery), Sensory Concerts® cater not only musically to those with sensory and/or special needs, but the group also brings a psychologist and occupational therapist to provide additional support. In another Festival first, the Celebration of Abilities concert will feature performers with special needs and disabilities. Of the unique nature of this performance, Ross says that “seeing people accomplish something that really gives them joy really warms your heart”.
In every way, the 2019 Festival offers events which people will find accessible, with all concerts carefully balancing traditional programming with works which may be new to some audience members, but enjoyable nonetheless! David emphasises the importance of live performance and its capacity to bring people from the community together for an immersive experience completely unlike listening to music through a device.
In addition to a number of concerts to be held in the majestic Christ Church Cathedral, the Festival combines several concerts with visual arts in various galleries in the area: Erasure with Jacob Neale and Flamenco! in the Newcastle University Gallery; Fused – Contemporary Art and Music at the Watt Space Gallery; and Heather Price and Terence Koo in concert at the Maitland Regional Art Gallery.
Of big importance to the Festival organisers is the involvement of local musicians – both professionals and members of the local community. Ross believes that this aspect of the Festival sets it apart from other festivals whose core performers are visiting artists, and indeed, that it is the Festival’s responsibility to create opportunities for local players to perform, whether kids or adults, professionals or amateurs. As in previous years, the 2019 Festival includes performances from both the Festival Choir and Festival Orchestra, which are both comprised of local musicians of varying levels.
Of course, the programme is supplemented by special guests, some of whom join with local musicians in performance; others also host masterclasses or assess scholarship competitions. Not only do these guest artists entertain local audiences, says David, but they also serve to inspire local musicians, and spread the word that good things are happening in Newcastle!
As David summarises, “Newcastle is an incredibly beautiful place – almost all of the Festival events are happening very close to the harbour and the beaches, with great food, great restaurants, and a great speed of life. You can go from hearing vocal and guitar masterclasses, to hearing Sally Walker, the Festival Choir, contemporary music, a guitar recital, opera, jazz, chamber music… all in one weekend (without breaking the bank)!” So what are you waiting for?! Get your tickets now!
The 2019 Newcastle Music Festival runs from Tuesday 6th August until Sunday 18th August.