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<<  -- 3 --  Malcolm Tattersall    A TROPICAL FAREWELL

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It has been such a big week that it is impossible to sum it up without being unfair by omission. Two special accolades are due, though:

  • James Buswell, Hero of the Festival, for taking on a double workload and handling it all so well.
  • Christopher Latham, first-time Australian Artistic Director, for a smoothly-run festival full of a wider than usual variety of music, and for some lovely violin playing in his spare time.

Christopher Latham
Christopher Latham

With enough stamina and no other commitments, one could have heard nearly twenty excellent concerts featuring forty-four composers and nearly thirty performers in ten days, plus the ancillary events (masterclasses, half a dozen student concerts and ten lectures) which I didn't even mention earlier. That's enough, surely, for the keenest concert-goer. For a break from music there were reef talks associated with the festival and the usual other attractions -- museums, sunshine, galleries, reef cruises -- of a small city in the dry tropics.

I have some slight reservations only about diversity within the programme. All but three of the artists played either strings or piano, and that immediately favours nineteenth century works. The balance in earlier festivals has been very heavily Romantic. I was happy to find the centre of gravity has shifted this year to the early twentieth century, but the instrumentation still restricted tonal variety and still shut out much of the most interesting twentieth century music. Audiences this year seemed willing to accept and enjoy the newer music as much as the old, going by both increased ticket sales and conversations during the festival. Perhaps resistance to change is more expected than real?

However much the range of music continues to expand, we can look forward to an exciting festival next year. Nothing else is yet settled but the dates are known: book now for a musical holiday in the tropics between 30 June and 9 July 2006.

Copyright © 13 July 2005 Malcolm Tattersall, Townsville, Australia

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MALCOLM TATTERSALL DESCRIBES THE FESTIVAL'S FIRST TWO DAYS

SEA AND SKY - MORE FROM THE AFCM IN TOWNSVILLE

THE AUSTRALIAN FESTIVAL OF CHAMBER MUSIC

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