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Nine concerts were presented in three days. At 11am on Saturday 18 August 2007, John Hoffman's jazz orchestra treated listeners to a program of jazzy selections. Especially impressive was a version of Fortune Smiles by Keith Jarrett with tight brass-infused grooves, glassy sound quality from the band and slick soloing on tenor saxophone.

Skylark featured contemporary vocalist Hannah Macklin whose silvery strains surfed the instrumental waves that gently ebbed and flowed around her. Macklin's sinewy lines inspired so it was a pity that in subsequent pieces the band's sound soared and Macklin's choice shading was engulfed by blazing interludes that were picked up and exaggerated by the hall's swimming resonance.

I canvassed opinions from locals, visitors and performers about their experience of the Festival. Macklin mostly performs in jazz clubs where the listeners' attention is unfocused so singing to a seated audience was a new experience. Violinist Michele Walsh from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music said, 'it was just one of those weekends where you just join in and help anyway you can'.

The distinguished Australian Opera star of yesteryear Lauris Elms, most remembered for her portrayal of Azucena in Il Trovatore, has attended three years running. She enjoys the relaxed atmosphere, the local cafés, the intimacy of the performance space that can only accommodate 300 seats, the generally excellent music making standards and the chance to meet up with musical friends.

The Stuart and Sons Grand Piano - an Australian model pioneered by Wayne Stuart

Of the Australian crafted Stuart and Sons grand piano made from homegrown timber, she said that it is bright and eager in tone, perfect for solo recitals, such as the one that featured the twenty year old prize winning pianist Jayson Gilham early on Saturday morning, but it can sound too forward as in the rendering of the Shostakovich Piano Trio No 2 played by The Whitely Trio.

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Copyright © 23 August 2007 Gillian Wills, Brisbane, Australia


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