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Internationally acclaimed music-maker Kathryn Stott unveils ground-breaking 2018 Australian Festival of Chamber Music program

March 22, 2018

10 days of incredible world class music, premieres and artists

27 July – 5 August 2018

Featuring six world and 16 Australian premieres and starring more than 35 internationally acclaimed musicians, the 2018 Australian Festival of Chamber Music (AFCM) program was unveiled today in Townsville in Tropical North Queensland by new Artistic Director, the highly distinguished UK pianist Kathryn Stott.

With a musician line-up that reads like the who’s who of the world’s best sound-makers, Stott has delivered on her promise to create a program that celebrates and connects musicians and music from all around the world. Twenty-one artists will make their AFCM debut, and six of these will be performing in Australia for the very first time.

In a stunning coup, Stott has announced that celebrated Chinese musician and master Sheng player Wu Tong will lead the first-time artist lineup. He is joined by Argentina’s JP Jofre (Bandoneon), Lars Anders Tomter (Viola) and Tine Thing Helseth (Trumpet) both from Norway, Katya Apekisheva (Piano) from the UK, and the famed Pavel Fischer (Violin) from the Czech Republic who will perform and direct the Festival’s Winterschool.

Australian Festival

The 2018 Composer-in-Residence is Melbourne-based Julian Yu, with Stott predicting that his Passacaglia performed by Philadelphia-based violinist Grace Clifford, who at just 20 years of age will be the youngest artist to ever attend the AFCM, will be a festival highlight. Quartet-in-Residence is the much loved and musically sublime Goldner String Quartet.

Kathryn Stott said she was reveling in her role as Artistic Director and excited to have curated a program of collaborations and combinations that bring many artists to Australia for the first time.

“We have many premieres, but as always, the great pillars of chamber music repertoire – which we all know and love – are in abundance,” she said.

“I have programmed a mini-focus on women composers, so there is a fantastic range of music to enjoy including Rebecca Clarke’s dynamic Viola Sonata, while British author, Jessica Duchen has written a narrative called ‘Being Mrs. Bach’ and this strand will continue into Bach by Candlelight.

Another highlight is the Cello Octet, created by Stott starring four visiting musicians and four young musicians from ANAM. “The sound of a Cello Octet is just so glorious, and this seemed the ideal way to make it happen. Having made a couple of visits to ANAM in the past including a residency, I was very keen to involve some students. My friends from Cellophony in the UK had some beautiful arrangements already prepared and my dear friend and amazing Cellist, Giovanni Sollima, has written stunning music for this combination. It will be a wonderful experience for the eight musicians and the audience alike!” said Stott.

Stott’s collaborative approach shines through in the program. “We are also working for the first time with Griffith University and James Cook University Film and Visual departments from whom I’ve commissioned work to accompany Karen Gomyo as she performs all three Bach Partitas. This should be fascinating and add an extra collaborative dimension to the Bach experience.”

The famous Concert Conversations, renowned around the world as must-attends, are expected to sell out quickly, and Stott has added even more conversational experiences to the 2018 program.

“On Sunday 29th July, at The Ville Resort – Casino, I’ve created a relaxed evening called Cleveland Bay Supper Club. This is going to be a very special event on all levels. Later in the week, some of our musicians will demonstrate a lighter side to AFCM appearing at the Heritage Exchange Bar, in ‘a late night happening’ performing music not heard in the main program.

In talking about the Festival premieres, Stott said it was important to remember that not all Australian premieres are what we think of as contemporary music – they simply haven’t been played in Australia before!

“For example, all the music by JP Jofre, the wonderful composer of Tango music and Bandoneonist extra-ordinaire, is simply thrilling and beautiful,” she said.

“World premieres need to be planned carefully, especially if the music appears to be particularly demanding. Take ‘Ritmos Anchinos’ by Gabriel Lena Frank – this is a fantastic piece for six performers and after I heard this, I knew it had to premiere at the AFCM. We are creating a new version to include a different instrument. So, with this work, the Goldners will arrive with the quartet parts already worked on, Wu Tong has performed it before and that leaves one musician to fit into the mix. For me, it’s important that the Festival presents new music and for us to remember that all music, has been contemporary at one time or another!”

Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said this event would deliver ten days of music, entertainment and masterclasses for attendees. “The festival program makes the most of the spectacular coastal and island landscapes of Townsville, creating a unique tourism experience,” Ms Jones said. “The Palaszczuk Government, via Tourism and Events Queensland, is proud to support the Australian Festival of Chamber Music which features on the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar.”

The 28th AFCM, will take place over 10 glorious days from Friday 27th July to Sunday 5th August, featuring more than 25 concerts and 5 special events, including extraordinary concerts on the beach of Orpheus Island and on Magnetic Island, as well as collaborations, conversations and masterclasses performed by the world’s best chamber musicians in churches, theatres and gardens throughout the North Queensland city. The program includes six morning Concert Conversations, five Sunset Series events, seven Evening Series concerts and Winterschool masterclasses and performances. New to 2018 are the Cleveland Bay Supper Club Lounge Concert, the AFCM Up Late event titled The World Comes to Flinders, the Dovetailing Barber which is set to be a wonderful event at Mary Mackillop Church, and the AFCM After Party which will be held on Magnetic Island.

Popular events include the Opening Night Concert titled Lift Off!, the Governor’s Gala on Saturday evening July 28 titled Exotic Excursions, the much-anticipated free Queens Garden Concert hosted by Mairi Nicholson as well as the Families Concert, the extraordinary concert experience on Orpheus Island and the Festival Farewell, which will celebrate 2018 with a concert called Magical Connections.

The AFCM is famed for its musicality, wintersun, artist accessibility and warm, friendly atmosphere.

First Time Artists to the Australian Festival of Chamber Music (*denotes also first time to Australia)

Alexander Sitkovetsky – Violin – Russia/UK

Caleb Wong – Cello – Melbourne (ANAM Cellist)

Eliza Sdraulig – Cello – Melbourne (ANAM Cellist)

Grace Clifford – Violin – Australia/USA (Philadelphia based)

Guy Johnston – Cello – UK/London

Istvan Vardai – Cello – Hungary/Berlin

Jessica Duchen – Director/Narrator – UK/London

*JP Jofre – Bandoneon – Argentina/New York

Julian Bliss – Clarinet – UK/London

Julian Yu – Composer in Residence – Melbourne

Karen Gomyo – Violin – Japan/Germany

*Katya Apekisheva – Piano – UK/London

*Lars Anders Tomter – Viola – Norway

Liam Meany – Cello – Melbourne (ANAM Cellist)

Mairi Nicolson – Host – Melbourne

*Pavel Fischer – Violin and Winterschool Director – Czech Republic

Siobhan Stagg – Soprano – Australia/Germany

*Tine Thing Helseth – Trumpet – Norway

Tobias Breider – Viola – Sydney

Vicky Zhang – Cello – Melbourne (ANAM Cellist)

*Wu Tong – Sheng – China

Returning Artists

Anne Milanovic – Conductor/Choir Master – Germany/Australia

Bronia Renison – Accordionist – Townsville

Claire Edwardes – Percussion – Sydney

Daniel de Borah – Piano – Brisbane

Dene Olding – Violin – Sydney

Dimity Hall – Violin – Sydney

Howard Penny – Cello – Melbourne

Ian Brunskill – Percussion – Townsville

Irina Morozova – Viola – Sydney

Julian Smiles – Cello – Sydney

Karin Schaupp – Classical Guitar – Brisbane

Kathryn Stott – Artistic Director and Piano – UK/Manchester

Kees Boersma – Bass – Sydney

Paul Wright – Violin – Perth

Prudence Davis – Flute – Melbourne

Roderick Williams – Baritone – UK/Birmingham

Timothy Young – Piano – Melbourne

Wendy Yuan – Page Turner Winterschool – Adelaide

1RAR Band

Date and Ticket Detail

Tickets, festival passes including the NEW Platinum Pass and holiday packages go on sale to AFCM Members on Wednesday 7 March at 9am. General Public ticket sales commence on Wednesday 4 April at 9am.

Australian Festival of Chamber Music: 27 July – 5 August 2018 | Townsville, North Queensland | Facebook | Twitter | #afcm18

>AFCM principal partners include; Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland and Arts Queensland, and Townsville City Council.

>The multi-award winning Australian Festival of Chamber Music is recognised as a major event on the Tourism and Events Queensland calendar.

>The Queensland Government is proud to support the Australian Festival of Chamber Music through Tourism and Events Queensland as part of the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar. Queensland, just the place to experience Australia’s best live events.

For more information, artists interviews or imagery, comment etc, please contact Kath Rose for the AFCM on 07 3357 9054 or 0416 291 493 or email

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