Back in the 60’s you could purchase a few hundred grams of rare Mt Canobolas Ozone “Canned under supervision on the summit of Mt Canobolas during Cherry Blossom to capture the sparkle and freshness of Orange air”. I came across this small wonder in the Orange Regional Museum where a trio of local musicians moved through the space presenting a free community concert. If such a novelty were available in 2022 I would have it capture the sparkle and freshness of the Orange Chamber Music Festival which ran over 4 days from April 28 to May 1 and showcased both local and internationally renowned artists in the wide range of unique venues the city has to offer.
When you read ‘local musicians’ performing in ‘free community concerts’ your expectations may take a dive, but I have come to understand that in Australia this means you will usually see something quite extraordinary. There are many incredibly accomplished musicians that come from, or live in, regional centres – indeed my museum concert included two members of the renowned Acacia Quartet and accomplished flautist David Shaw – up close, wandering amongst the audience. This is a very different way to experience classical music, and the festival audience loved it. Immediately after this the festival popped next door to the Art Gallery for a delightful solo recital by harpist Emily Granger amongst Salvatore Zofrea’s stunning artworks. She even gave an impromptu explanation of the workings of her instrument to wrapt onlookers after the concert. Incidentally, Granger’s next recital is to be performed in the Utzon Room at the Sydney Opera House – so there is certainly no lack of talent attracted to regional music festivals like ‘OCMF’. I, like many others, would likely not have visited these venues outside of attending a festival event, but was very pleasantly testogel only cycle specific periodized linear surprised by the exhibits.
The program of music presented at the 2022 Orange Chamber Music Festival was truly diverse which added to its ‘can-able’ freshness.
Streeton Trio opened the concert with a traditional classical repertoire.
OCMF’s principal artist was innovative classical guitarist Matt Withers who performed commissioned Australian works with Acacia Quartet alongside a Russian great, Borodin.
Daniel Rojas and the incredible young players of the Apex String Quartet performed ‘a heavenly alchemy of mambo, salsa and Andean folk music fused with classical sensibilities’.
Australian Opera greats Cheryl Barker and Peter Coleman-Wright teamed with Nexas Saxophone Quartet for a globe trotting evening of show tunes from the Golden Age of the 1920’s and 40’s.
Ensemble Francaix (Emmanuel Cassimatis – Oboe, Matthew Kneale – Bassoon, Nicholas Young – Piano) with local guest artists (Katherine Howarth on Clarinet, David Shaw – Flute and Victoria Chatterley – French Horn) performed Poulenc, Stuart Greenbaum, Ligeti and Jean Françaix’s L’heure du berger 8 with both intensity and humour.
Add to this ‘Cultured’- a full day of music around the city’s arts precinct (unfortunately the weather pushed these inside this year) plus a number of other exclusive festival recitals, and we got a packed weekend of music with just enough time to enjoy the coffee shops and boutiques of Orange.
I think this festival’s flair (and this is only its second year) is for combining emerging and well established artists on the same stage with a slightly eclectic program and somehow making it work. It’s also not a festival solely designed around bringing in tourists. While this is obviously important, it’s clear there is a real focus on showcasing and giving opportunities to young performers, such as the Orange Regional Conservatorium Chamber Academy who also presented concerts during the weekend and can claim three world premieres of Australian composers – Sally Greenaway, Lyle Chan and Noel Annett.
It helps that Orange in autumn is absolutely insta-famously beautiful with her colourful tree-lined streets, there is a real charm to her historic buildings and tastefully designed modern public spaces. It’s also fair to say that Orange’s restaurants bat way above their weight (Charred, Schoolhouse and Lolli Redini as examples) and excellent local produce and cellar doors abound. Add to this eight concerts with internationally renowned and local musicians and you have a winning combination.
Save the date – 2023 has already been announced!