Bach in barns
It’s an intoxicating mix. Classical music, heritage buildings, food, wine and craft gin, and all set amongst Tasmania’s bucolic rolling hills.
No wonder new kid on the music block – the Tasmanian Chamber Music Festival – has really captured imaginations.
2017 was the inaugural Festival, and its second outing, which takes place in the Northern Midlands over the last weekend in October, has been an instant sell-out success.
Based around the Georgian village of Evandale, classical music lovers will be treated to Bach in old barns, and Handel by candle-light. There is also a string quartet and afternoon tea at the world heritage listed Woolmers Estate, not to mention dinner at Tasmania’s grandest Georgian mansion – Clarendon House.
All this while enjoying music of international standard, and performed by some of Australia’s top classical musicians, including the Tinalley String Quartet who are back for a second year.
Established in 2003, they play at events across the globe, but Tinalley violinist, Lerida Delbridge, says there is something special about this new Tasmanian celebration of chamber music.
“When I got home from last year’s festival I rang my parents, who live in Melbourne, straight away and told them you have to come down to next year’s festival,” Delbridge explains.
“And they are. They are coming down.
“You really can’t get a higher recommendation than that.”
Delbridge, who picked up her first violin at the age of three and has a ‘day job’ as Assistant Concertmaster with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, calls the Tinalley String Quartet “her passion project – the thing that keeps me going to work".
She is also very clear about what it is that sets this festival, just one year old, apart from the rest.
“It’s the amazing venues,” Lerida explains.
“Last year we did the first concert in a wonderful old barn and that was really just a magical space. It had really lovely acoustics, and the audience was very close and intimate. The whole thing was like you were stepping back in time.
“I had heard about Evandale from so many people, but it was even more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.
“Tasmania holds such a special place in so many people’s hearts in the mainland, and I think people love going to Tassie and it is so different down there. It really is a special part of the world.”
However, Delbridge is also impressed that the festival embraces the region's food, wine and craft gin.
She uses the example of last year’s opening concert, which kicked-off with a gin tasting from a local distiller, and set the tone for the event ahead.
To create all that in your first festival is really impressive,” Delbridge adds.
So, what is in store this year?
Delbridge is excited that the Tinalley String Quartet will be joined by good friend and renowned Italian cellist, Umberto Clerici, for a concert that includes one of her favourite pieces of music.
“We will be performing the Schubert Quintet which is amongst the most beloved pieces of chamber music ever written,” Delbridge says.
“Schubert wrote it just before he died, and so it has incredible depth and weight.”
Other highlights include Handel by candlelight in Longford’s historic Christ Church performed by Erin Helyard (harpsichord), Jacqueline Porter (soprano) and Emma McGrath (violin).
Slava and Leonard Grigoryan, widely regarded as Australia’s finest guitar duo, will fill Evandale’s Uniting Church with works by Tchaikovsky and De Falla.
And. for the final day, a smorgasbord of classical music will rotate amongst barns on three historic properties.
The Tasmanian Chamber Music Festival is the brainchild of high-profile arts identity, Allanah Dopson, best known as the proprietor of the Handmark Galleries at Salamanca Place and Evandale.
What is not so well known is that Dopson is also thoroughly versed in the ways of music, having formally trained as both a classical musician and opera singer.
“There is real demand for a festival like this,” Dopson, also Deputy Chair of the Brand Tasmania Council, explains.
“Last year we had 120 festival packages and this year we increased that number to 170 and they sold out immediately. There is even a waiting list.
“The first festival was held in venues around Evandale, but this year we had to expand it out to Longford, to cater for the increase in numbers.
“The Tasmanian Chamber Music Festival has really captured people’s imaginations. It is the combination of beautiful music in the most glorious settings mixed with wonderful food and wine and gin.”
Image courtesy of Mel de Ruyter Photography
14 October 2018, Edition 199