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Feast for all tastes at 25th Canberra International Music Festival

Wendy Johnson 25 April 2019

The SR9 Marimba Trio will perform at the Australian National Botanic Gardens as part of CIMF. Sample their hypnotic music here. Photos: Supplied.

The Canberra International Music Festival (CIMF) will bring music to the ears of all Canberrans with its 2019 program, launching 2 May.

At the helm of the Festival is Artistic Director Roland Peelman, a brilliant pianist and one of Australia’s most innovative musical directors.

Roland Peelman, Artistic Director of the CIMF.

The exciting lineup—all the more special since the CIMF is celebrating its 25th year—offers something for all musical tastes with a mix of free and ticketed events held at different locations around the capital, including large national cultural institutions and small, intimate venues such as galleries.

“The festival, held 2 to 12 May, presents Australia’s finest art music program, with 42 events covering chamber, classical, jazz, contemporary and world music,” says Peelman.

Free lunchtime concerts will be held at the National Gallery of Australia, with the first featuring award-winning 19-year-old pianist Leanne Jin (2 May). Melbourne-based Penny Quartet, one of Australia’s brightest young string quartets and resident at the 2019 Canberra International Music Festival, will perform at 9 May lunchtime concert. Also part of the 2019 CIMF program are free sunset performances in the NGA’s Turrell Skyspace sung by Canberra’s Tobias Cole.

Melbourne-based Penny Quartet will perform at the lunchtime concert.

The first week of the festival brings to the capital English Baroque with Circa, a dazzling world premiere by The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Circa. Peelman says this event promises to be a “tumbling commotion of musicians from the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and acrobats from Circa colliding in an explosive collaboration of contemporary circus and music.”

English Baroque with Circa promises to be a show-stopper.

The Bach for Breakfast series presents six performances, each with breakfast, concert and a discussion. The series culminates with Anton Baba performing Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 followed by a conversation about the opera “The Children’s Bach” between acclaimed author Helen Garner, composer Andrew Schultz and RiotACT’s Genevieve Jacobs.

The Magic Garden event, held at the Australian National Botanic Gardens, is a music discovery walk like no other. Wander through the magnificent gardens listening to eight musical performances, including Sally Walker on flute, William Barton on didgeridoo, the SR9 Marimba Trio and Canberra’s own Alex Raupach on trumpet.

Sally Walker on flute.

For a truly intimate experience, get “Up Close at Gorman”, a chain of short exclusive performances for small groups and a chance to hear festival artists close-up in the gallery and studio spaces of the historic Gorman House precinct. Each chain starts at 15-minute intervals and takes around 75 minutes. The experience is designed for a maximum of 20 people.

The final concert of CIMF 2019 (12 May) is the “Testament”. Concert 23 presents Bach’s final choral variation on “Before your throne I now appear”, a musical piece steeped in myth and mystery. According to legend, the ailing and, by then, blind composer dictated the work from his death bed.

“There are so many ways to experience the Festival,” says Peelman. “This year’s line-up truly has something for everyone.”

Festival Passes are all sold out but tickets are available for many events. The ‘Choose Your Own Adventure Pass’ lets festival-goers tailor their experience with discounts available for five or more concerts. Other discounts are also available. Tickets range from $49 to $120, while under 30s are $30, available online.


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