The festival, now in its third year and curated by Artistic Director Christina Leonard, has built a solid reputation as a weekend event featuring fine music played by some of Australia’s most highly acclaimed classical musicians living at home and abroad, complimented by beautiful food and wine in the company of like-minded people.
The festival also aims to introduce works by Australia’s foremost living composers. In previous years the festival has hosted Mary Finsterer, George Palmer, Tim Dargaville, Andrew Ford, and Elena Kats-Chernin.
This year’s festival features the music of Australian composer Paul Stanhope who will introduce his works alongside others by Beethoven, Saint-Säens, Schumann, Ravel and Kodaly to name a few.
The three programs titled ‘My Song Is Love Unknown,’ ‘The Sweetest Nightingale’ and ‘Into The Sunset’ draw inspiration from Leonard’s experiences in the Southern Highlands.
“It’s such a spectacularly beautiful part of the world. For me, this natural beauty is something that inspires relaxation and creativity and makes it the perfect place to host a festival. I love the challenge of programming both cornerstones of the chamber music repertoire – well known music as well as music that is rarely heard, and also I really value the opportunity to introduce our audiences to the music of some of Australia’s nest living composers, as well as the composers themselves!” says Leonard.
Leonard, a saxophonist from Sydney who plays custom made instruments by Japanese instrument maker Yanagisawa, and the only ones of their kind in Australia, has a strong vision for this year’s Chamber Music Festival, “I’m looking forward to continuing to present concerts that showcase musicians from the AWO (Australian World Orchestra) in a really up-close-and-personal way and to enjoy beautiful food and delicious wines with interesting people, because I always meet so many of them after a concert! Festival-goers will enjoy the intimacy of chamber music, the skill of the performers and the beauty of their sounds. You always hear the mastery the players possess in chamber music repertoire.”
The musicians from the Australian World Orchestra are some of Australia’s finest– a unique orchestral initiative that brings Australian musicians from home and abroad to perform together under the one roof.
In its short 5 year history, the orchestra has attracted stellar conductors such as Maestro Zubin Mehta and Sir Simon Rattle.
Violinist Harvey-Nagl says, “Every single player is at the highest level of professionalism and expertise and it’s simply a wonderful experience to work with like-minded, open, friendly, funny Australians, many of whom I have known since my student days.”
As concertmaster of the Vienna Volksoper, the home orchestra to the Viennese Opera House of the same name, Harvey-Nagl is a seasoned international performer, “I am thrilled to be part of the Southern Highlands Chamber Music Festival, and to performsome of my favourite works with outstanding musicians. I’m especially looking forward to the diverse programmes, the opportunity to perform some Australian works, and to be working with these wonderful musicians in an intimate setting.”
Harvey-Nagl will be joined on stage by Leonard; violinist Lerida Delbridge, Assistant Concertmaster of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra; violist Lisa Grosman of Monash University and formerly of the Irish Chamber Orchestra; cellist Andrew Hines of the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra; clarinettist and Associate Principal of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra Frank Celata; and piano soloist Bernadette Harvey.
The festival is billed as a weekend of fine music, delicious food and uplifting experiences and will be presented at the Bowral Memorial Hall, St Jude’s, Bowral and Wombat Hollow, East Kangaloon.