The Port Fairy Spring Music Festival is a major music event for Victoria; unlike many festivals at the moment, this one has not been cancelled. On the contrary, it continues to thrive, thanks to a succession of distinguished Artistic Directors, imaginative collaborative programming, and excellent performances by established artists and the best of Australia’s new and emerging young performers and composers. Local community engagement has also ensured success.
Created in 1990 by the late British Australian composer Michael Easton and the pianist Len Vorster, it been staged as an annual regional music festival since then, apart from the COVID-19 interruption. Continuing the legacy of Artistic Directors such as Marco van Pagee, Len Vorster, Erich Fackert, Stephen McIntyre, Anna Goldsworthy and Iain Grandage, Monica Curro and Stefan Cassomenos have once again curated an inspired program of diverse events.
Classical and contemporary ensemble music, drama, orchestral and choral music, jazz, opera, dance and free open-air performance are featured in a program of 24 performances over three days. Concerts are generally an hour long and designed especially for the festival. School performances, masterclasses, pre-concert talks, artist “talks and conversations”, and art exhibitions all enhance the appreciation and involvement of Festival patrons and the community.
The words of Artistic Directors Monica Curro and Stefan Cassomenos provide the most eloquent summary of the Habitat concept integral to this year’s exciting Festival and what is on offer.
“HABITAT – from a microscopic cell to the vast expanse of the universe, our natural environment is the space inhabited by all living organisms, where we not only exist, but where we have the safety to thrive and evolve. In 2023 PFSMF explores and celebrates the miracle of life in nature, highlighting its exquisite fragility and the urgent necessity to do everything to ensure its survival. We tell and sing our stories of microcosms and macrospheres, and the histories of our ecosystems through the pinnacle of human achievement – creative expression.
“The Festival’s bucolic biosphere reverberates with over a hundred artists from all corners of the cultural firmament -an organist, a harpist, a didgeridoo player, an author, a visual art curator, a set designer, two conductors, two percussionists, three brass players, four pianists, four world premiere composers, eight woodwinds, eleven strings, fifteen vocal soloists, a bevy of bellringers, and a colossal chorus
“Amos Roach’s and Brenda Gifford’s healing songlines connect us with Country and Culture; Steve Davislim joins PLEXUS in giving voice to mythological narratives through both Australian and Schubertian lenses; Kristian Chong, Alex Raineri and Stefan Cassomenos traverse panoramic pianistic territory; Michelle Nicolle champions women in jazz; and Sarah Curro and Gareth Colliton spotlight Australian composers and Southwest visual artists. Vox Plexus make their Port Fairy debut, and we warmly welcome back Festival favourites The Sutherland Trio. Gerry Connolly and Leyland Jones split our sides with capricious cabarets, and Thomas Heywood brings the organ of St John’s to life.
“To bring it all home, this year’s trilogy of epic galas showcase three of the greatest symphonies of all time – Beethoven’s Pastoral, Mahler’s Titan, and Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms -celebrating habitats of terrain, ancestry, and spirit.”
“Tickets can be booked directly from the website. If you have any problems with your booking, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0429 372 287. Our Box Office team will get back to you when they can, but please note that we are a small team and may not be able to respond straight away.”
You can also access some Festival concerts via Australian Digital Concert Hall, beginning with the Opening Gala: Pastorale, on Friday, October 13, 2023, 7:30PM (AEDT). Streamed live from Reardon Theatre, Port Fairy/Gunditjmara.