Migaloo isn’t the only star headed to North Queensland this week. The rare, all-white whale who’s northern sojourn up the east coast of Australia for the past 25 years has been one of the must-see sights every July – is joined by the arrival in North Queensland of 35 of the world’s leading chamber musicians for the Australian Festival of Chamber Music (AFCM).
Spotted just north of Newcastle on the weekend, hopefully, Migaloo will arrive for the AFCM’s opening concert in Townsville on Friday evening, and perhaps cast a welcoming breach for the international and national stars, as well as the thousands of visitors who each year for the event. With an extraordinary concert on the stunning Orpheus Island happening on Tuesday next week, there’s a chance Migaloo may even pop by for a listen!
The destination isn’t the only thing this incredible animal and the AFCM have in common – the much famed and loved Migaloo has been making the trip for 25 years (that we know of) and the AFCM this year celebrates 26 years of making sublime music in arguably the best location in the world for a music event; there’s just one year between their celebrated fame.
The 26th Australian Festival of Chamber Music (AFCM) will be held from this Friday, 29 July to 6 August this year and is the 10th Festival under the baton of acclaimed Artistic Director Piers Lane AO. Six of the 35 artists are making their Australian debut, their names read like a who’s who of the chamber music world – two celebrated Chinese artists in the charismatic pianist Sa Chen, and the superb cellist Trey Lee lead the first-time-to-Australia charge, joined by Irish superstar pianist Finghin Collins, famed French horn player Hervè Joulain, multi-award winning German violinist Indira Koch, and the acclaimed German cellist Wolfgang-Emanuel Schmidt.
Returning to Australia and Townsville to what promises to be rapturous applause is Tasmin Little, the effervescent violinist from the UK who so impressed audiences in 2014. She will perform in eight events throughout the festival. Joining her in return performances is internationally acclaimed percussionist and co-artistic director of Sydney’s Ensemble Offspring Claire Edwardes, together with the communicative clarinetist David Griffiths in company with his trioEnsemble Liaison, and one of Australia’s favourite bassists Kirsty McCahon. Bassoonist Andrew Barnes, flautist Bridget Bolliger, violinist Michele Walsh, the gifted and versatile soprano Valda Wilson and one of the most sought after oboists of his generation, Australia’s Nick Deutsch are among other marquee artists. One of the highlights of pianist Andrew West’s festival program will be his performance with one of the greatest British baritones,Roderick Williams, in Schubert’s masterpiece Winterreise (Winter Journey), while acclaimed guitarist Karin Schaupp will collaborate with the very provocative and charming Australian actor Tama Matheson in the musical adventure special event, Don Juan.