Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the Canberra International Music Festival’s program for 2024 takes on the spirit of the word mulanggari – ‘alive’ in the language of the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people – and all its vivid, joyful connotations.
2024 will the final of Artistic Director Roland Peelman‘s leadership tenure, which began in 2015. He will be succeeded by Eugene Ughetti, whose term commences in July.
Spanning 1–5 May, the 2024 Festival has been halved in length from the traditional 10-day structure. The bash begins a little earlier, too, with Nicole Smede’s A Major Lift commission ushering in the festival on 30 April.
Smede’s new work will be performed in a solo set by soprano Lotte Betts-Dean in the first Verity Solo Session for voice and electronics, which also includes pieces by Kaija Saariaho, Caroline Shaw and Linda Buckley.
Officially opened with a Welcome to Country on 1 May by Aunty Jude Barlow, the CIMF’s first performance will be by Canberra’s Ellery String Quartet. Joined by guest pianist Anna Gao, the young quartet will offer a program of Shaw, Liszt, and Holly Harrison.
The second Verity Solo Session will be hosted by Bulgarian classical guitarist Pavel Ralev, and feature Villa-Lobos’s Five Preludes and an arrangement of JS Bach’s Violin Partita No. 2.
To bring an end to the first day of the festival, Lior and Nigel Westlake’s Compassion receives its ACT premiere next to a performance by tar player Hamed Sadeghi, pianist Bram De Looze and didgeridoo virtuoso and CIMF staple William Barton.
The second day, on 2 May, sees two string ensembles play – Dudok Quartet Amsterdam on its first Australian tour, and the return of the French Trio Karénine. Percussionist Claire Edwardes is the third Verity Solo Session performer, playing works by Kate Moore, Gemma Peacock and Brenda Gifford. Andrew Ford’s Red Dirt Hymns will be performed by Luminescence Chamber Singers in its entirety.
A traditional Turkish breakfast, accompanied by the improvisations of Ralev, Sadeghi and guitarist Hilary Geddes opens Day 3. There’s also a celebration of the music of Venetian composer Luigi Nono and the Canberra-based composer Larry Sitsky (presented by Andrew Ford), a reflection on Beethoven’s legacy, and a program presented by Barton, Véronique Serret, Aunty Delmae Barton and pianist Tamara-Anna Cislowska.
Cislowska, who also present’s ABC Classic FM’s Duet, will be joined by Sitsky in performance and conversation to open Day 4 of the festival. Bach Akademie Australia will present the first of a two-part program of Bach’s formidable Brandenburg Concertos at Snow Concert Hall; a dive into the works of Steve Reich and minimalist-inspired works. A festival extra, Jazz Up Late with De Looze, tops off the evening.
The festival closes on 5 May with the second Bach Akademie Australia performance and a live scoring of two Buster Keaton films by pianist Ashley Hribar.
The Festival Finale features Indigenous folk duo Stiff Gins performing with Dudok Quartet Amsterdam, Barton and Serret, and the world premiere of Holly Harrison’s A Major Lift Commission, written for an all-female percussion trio of Edwardes, Niki Johnson and Veronica Bailey.
Tickets for the 2024 Canberra International Music Festival are on sale now for members and will open to the public on 27 November.