Roland Peelman AM, Artistic Director of the Canberra International Music Festival (CIMF), has been named in this year’s Australia Day awards for his “significant service to music”, recognising in part his remarkable effort in positioning the Festival on the national stage and doubling the audience.
The Member of the Order of Australia is awarded for service in a particular locality or field of activity or to a particular group. Roland, who is himself an acclaimed musician of great versatility, has been Artistic Director of CIMF since 2015.
In that time he has won a number of awards and attracted rave reviews. Festival commissioned works have won national and international awards, and this year CIMF was a finalist in the National Art Music Awards for “sustained excellence, exceptional growth and cultivation of Australian music”. It won the ACT award in this category.
The theme for this year’s Canberra International Music Festival is Giving Voice. It features work ranging from global contemporary folk legend Sam Amidon, a Filipino-Australian indigenous rapper and drummer, to Haydn’s Creation and a celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday.
The festival will be opened on 1 May by Yuin woman and ARIA-nominated Canberra composer Brenda Gifford.
Roland said he was honoured to receive the award.
“I have always been enormously grateful for the opportunities that this country has given me, in more ways than I can possibly describe. From the moment that I first stepped off the plane in 1982 as a poor backpacking tourist, I sensed something new and exciting. I still feel that sense of opportunity.”
Roland was born in Belgium and has been active in Australia for over 30 years as a conductor, pianist, artistic director and mentor to composers, singers and musicians alike.
He has received numerous accolades for his commitment to the creative arts in Australia, the NSW Award for “the most outstanding contribution to Australian Music by an individual” in 2005 and was named musician of the year by The Sydney Morning Herald in 2006. He is regularly featured as one of the most influential people in the Australian arts scene.
His 25-year directorship of The Song Company has drawn many plaudits as he transformed the group into one of Australia’s most outstanding and innovative ensembles. He has been a passionate supporter of new Australian music.
One of Roland’s most outstanding contributions to CIMF has been his involvement with Indigenous musicians. Over the last five years, the Canberra International Music Festival has gradually created a bigger platform for Indigenous artists by commissioning new work, fostering new collaborations and inviting Indigenous musicians from different corners of the nation to be part of the Festival.
The Canberra International Music Festival will be held from 1 to 10 May 2020.