Musical weekend in the autumnal highlands

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Violinist and director of the Bowral Autumn Music Festival Myee Clohessy.  Photo: Peter Hislop

AS autumn leaves wrap themselves around the southern highlands, violinist and director of the Bowral Autumn Music Festival Myee Clohessy, well known to Canberrans for her performances with the Acacia Quartet, is busy putting together an opening that’s getting her very excited.

It’s a lunchtime recital by percussion “superwoman” Claire Edwardes, whose performance will feature two world-premiere works on marimba, waterphone, vibraphone and woodblocks, by Sydney composer Ella Macens and music broadcaster Andrew Ford, along with compositions by Australian composers Kate Moore, Elena Kats-Chernin, Matthew Hindson, and Edwardes herself. 

Later Edwardes’ group Ensemble Offspring will star with narrator Katia Molino in a concert for children that includes Australian works such as Holly Harrison’s “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party” and “Vibe Rant” with Ross Edwards’ “Animisms”, Ned McGowan’s “Annabel”, about a princess who is good every day, except on Saturdays.

Set in the evocative surrounds of St. Jude’s Anglican Church in Bowral, the festival will range over classical and 20th and 21st century works.

Unsurprisingly, the Acacia Quartet violinists Lisa Stewart and Clohessy, violist Stefan Duw and cellist Anna Martin-Scrase, will provide the backbone to the festival, performing music by women composers with pianist and Sibelius expert Aura Gowa, who will also perform a solo recital. 

Canberra-raised organist David Reccia Chynoweth, now based in Italy, will play Bach, Koehne, the Mendelssohns, Handel and Guilmant. Chynoweth had his first piano lessons at the age of six, but has since taken out a Diploma in Organ with distinction from the Conservatorium of Music in Frosinone, Italy, and a Masters of Music at the Universitat fur Musik in Vienna. 

Emerging artists are a strong feature, with Mikaela Sukkar, oboist with the Australian Youth Orchestra, and Hamish Wagstaff, assistant organist and conductor at Christ Church St Laurence, performing music by the rarely-heard 18th century German Princess Anna Amalia and a new composition, written especially for them by Sarah Elise Thompson.

Towards the end of the festival, the illustrious Australian soprano, Taryn Fiebig will join the Acacia Quartet to perform songs, not least Australian composer Iain Grandage’s “The Owl and The Pussy Cat”.

On the Sunday, following a festival service featuring the St Jude’s Singers directed by Allan Beavis, Sydney singers Bel a cappella directed by Anthony Pasquill with organist Hamish Wagstaff, will perform music on a religious theme, then the festival winds up with the Highlands Music Collective and The Roma Strings directed by Clohessy, with solo clarinettist Alexandra Donaldson.

2020 Bowral Autumn Music Festival, St Jude’s Church, Bowral. Opening Concert, 1pm, Friday March 27. The festival runs until March 29, book at


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