Music Festival: Blissed-out on a musical boat

Canberra International Music Festival “Amazing Space 5 – Sounding the Lake” Aboard a Lake Burley Griffin boat cruise, May 17. Reviewed by Bill Stephens

L. Christina Wilson, R. Louise Page

Christina Wilson, left, and Louise Page.

THIS was the fifth and final “Amazing  Space” concert, an extraordinary series of concerts that has interwoven the arts of architecture and music so creatively and successfully that its become the talk of the festival.

Can there be a more sublime way to spend a couple of hours on a typically chilly, sunny Canberra autumn day than cruising in a snug, beautifully appointed cruiser on Lake Burley Griffin, being informed by passionate experts about Canberra’s unique architectural features and scenery while listening to songs by Purcell, Schubert, Britten and Offenbach, exquisitely presented by a trio of our most accomplished and treasured artists;  singers, Louise Page and Christina Wilson, and pianist Alan Hicks?

As the boat pulled away from the jetty, Actew Water supremo, Mark Sullivan set the tone with some entertaining and informative facts about the creation and purpose of Lake Burley Griffin,  or as he described it,  “the silt sedimentation pond”.

Between songs, architects Stuart McKenzie and Ann Cleary shared fascinating tidbits about Canberra’s design, and while we tucked into the delicious buffet, Dianne Firth enlightened us as to the special features of the ceremonial jetty at Government House.

Colin Milner shared a fascinating Canberra connection to a pretty Peter Sculthorpe song sung by Page and Wilson, and then while we cruised towards it, Firth gave a brief history of the Canberra Carillon.

Arriving at Aspen Island, our boat paused to allow us to experience a special performance by carillonist, Lynn Fuller, before moving on to Reconciliation Place where everyone dis-embarked to thrill to a stirring rendition of Malcolm Williamson’s “Canberra Fanfare” and Janacek’s “Fanfare from Sinfonietta” performed by the Canberra Festival Brass, conducted by the Festival’s indefatigable artistic director, Chris Latham.

As the cruiser turned its bow for home, Page and Wilson, accompanied by HIcks, added the final icing to the cake for their already blissed-out audience with a charming encore duet, a romantic arrangement of Henry Mancini’s “Moon River”.


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