Bangalow Music Festival 2013What is it about an orchestra that makes me want to cry? I have pondered this on many a musical occasion: finally, after witnessing the Southern Cross Soloists for possibly the fourth time in my reviewing history, I have come to the conclusion that it's the mere act of everyone being on the same page, literally. The Bangalow Music Festival is a pure convergence of talent, making beautiful music together, adding, blending, deconstructing and reconstructing, timing, breathing life into the music. The selection of ensembles and soloists, alongside the selection of music, is aimed at entrancing the audience and is beautifully overwhelming. Music can overwhelm, fact number one! 

Music can paint pictures more effectively than any other creative medium. Rather than sitting in front of a screen listening to a sound track (be it television or a movie) live music allows you to conjure up your own script. When the Lismore Symphony Orchestra hit their first combined note on Thursday night (local’s night) I was transfixed. Lismore Symphony orchestra, I might add, full of world class musicians, voluntarily playing, students and teachers alike, all coming together for the shared love of music. Emphasis on 'shared' as music is such a powerful force from musician to musician, embracing the rapt audience hanging off every note: share and share alike.  

Bangalow Music Festival 2013 offered up another smorgasbord of performers and performances from the onset: Thursday night being a night for the locals with a taste-plate of tunes that left most of the audience gobsmacked. Emma Sholl, Lismore Symphony Orchestra, Flinders Quartet, Silver Garburg Piano Duo, Vox Caldera, Alexander Lewis, Hot North Wind, Jayson Gillham and the Southern Cross Soloists all vied for our attention, transporting us listeners to that world of musical imagination. Wonderful.

The A&I Hall in Bangalow appears to be a miracle venue, standing acoustically erect in the middle of this heritage town. Built many years ago by the local township, it has been touted as one of the best acoustic halls/venues in the world. Yes, the world. Lil’ ole’ Bangalow. Amazing. High praise indeed, coming from many of the musicians who have had first-hand experience performing on the A&I Hall stage. The sound is clear, precise and wrap-around-your-soul. Tania Frazer, Creative Director, Southern Cross Soloists, was asked recently “why Bangalow, and why the A&I Hall?” Acoustics - plain and simple. 

The Bangalow Music Festival is now in its twelfth year and still gathering momentum. The “new generation of solo sensations from around the globe” were offered up this year and over this weekend of music and merriment we were able to witness, first hand, the “performers who are jumping the queue and taking the world by storm with their consummate artistry: Jayson Gillham piano (Australia/UK); Silver-Garburg Piano Duo (Israel/Germany); Alexander Lewis tenor (Australia/USA); Qian Zhou violin (China/Singapore); Felicitas Fuchs soprano from Germany; plus established stars Emma Sholl flute (Sydney); Bernard Lanskey piano (Australia, UK/Singapore); and our very own Southern Cross Soloists and the fab four from Melbourne - the Flinders String Quartet.” 

These superb musicians breathe life into the music and live the music, you can see it with their ebb and flow. Contemporary twists and turns, with music you know you know, however treated in their particular manner, with these particular musicians, these timeless favourites are reinvented again. I heard one of the audience members whisper, “I’m sure that’s the music from the Pirates of the Caribbean...”

Debussy, Haydn, Brahms, Mozart, Turin, Ravel, Beethoven, Schubert, Hindson, Lutoslowski, Stravinsky... and so much more: pure bliss for the ambient heart! Served up with style, grace and overall excellence.

Another world class music festival has drawn to a close: thank you Southern Cross Soloists and thank you Tania Frazer for “delivering the finest international and Australian ensembles and soloists” to our doorstep.  See you again next year, I can hardly wait!

Southern Cross Soloists
Bangalow Music Festival 2013

Venue: Bangalow, Northern NSW
Dates: 16-18 August, 2013

Most read Sydney reviews

More from this author