ANNOUNCING the 2020 theme for the Canberra International Music Festival, “Giving Voice”, the artistic director Roland Peelman has declared himself determined to make the event “possibly our most adventurous yet”.
Opening with a new composition by Canberra composer Brenda Gifford, which evokes the four elements named in her Yuin language – ”bagan”, “miriwa”, “ngadjung” and ganji/in” – the festival takes a deep dive into the work of indigenous musicians, with Eric Avery, who plays violin while singing in the Ngiyampaa language, performing this evening (November 4) to a crowd of guests at the launch of the program at Drill Hall Gallery.
Avery will be back in May next year for the festival, along with the Tiwi Island Strong Women, didgeridoo master William Barton, “dreamtime opera diva” Aunty Delmae Barton, Yolgnu songman Daniel Wilfred, and Dobby, a rapper-drummer-speaker whose family hails from Brewarrina.
Peelman says in this festival the human voice will be front and centre.
“Nothing is more human than our voice… our ability to speak, sing and make music with our body remains an eternal source of mystery and magic to me,” he explains.
With this in mind he’ll have the Australian Art Orchestra and American folk singer Sam Amidon in the Aussie premiere of “The Anthology of American Folk Music”, the Australian premiere of Sarah Hennies’ audio-visual work on the transgender voice, “Contralto”, African-American countertenor Reginald Mobley, New Zealand baritone James Ioelu, and Korean jazz singer Sunny Kim.
Canberra’s choirs, including the Woden Valley Youth Choir, students from ANU School of Music, Luminescence Children’s Choir and Clarion, will play a strong role too.
At the classical end of vocal music, the Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra and Sydney Chamber Choir will perform Haydn’s oratorio “The Creation” with German violinist-conductor Jacob Lehmann in tribute to the late Richard Gill.
And Peelman has scored a musical coup, with the Flinders Quartet premiering Katy Abbott’s Paul Lowin Song Cycle winner, “Hidden Thoughts II: Return to Sender”, which is about the 2000 letters sent to Nauru by well-wishers only to be returned unopened.
Peelman can proudly boast 10 world premieres, including percussionist Bree Van Reyk’s premiere work celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Australian Botanic Gardens and the opening of its new Banksia Garden and Moya Henderson’s commissioned work marking 50 years of the National Carillon.
Beethoven’s 250th anniversary is marked with a series of breakfast recitals in picturesque venues across Canberra, and daytime events see music in Canberra’s national institutions, historic and natural sites, and venues including Kambri and Belconnen Arts Centre.
Canberra International Music Festival, May 1-10, 2020. Bookings to cimf.org.au