On one side, Port Phillip, on the other, the Western Port Bay and Bass Strait: the Peninsula Summer Music Festival comes into season in January, surrounded by sun and ocean. Flautist Melissa Doecke is honoured to join in 2023 as a first-time Festival Director, especially after the challenges of the last two years.
“I’m excited that PSMF can once again present a full program of events, offering both much needed work for our musicians, as well as experiences to bring people together in the community,” she says to Limelight.
“I am looking forward to continuing the excellent traditions and high standards which Ben has developed under his leadership and continue the festival’s commitment to championing Australian music as well as diverse composers and performers.”
The 2023 festival features artists such as pianist Stephen McIntyre, recorder player Anna Stegmann, the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, the Orpheus Trio and the emerging Artamidae Quartet, which is poised to play at the Royal Albert Hall for the ANAM Quartetthaus in spring.
It will also offer a variety of free and ticketed programs of classical music alongside jazz, South American, Iranian and Australian art music. Solo piano with string quartets, baroque trios through to local First Nations musicians, and world music fusion ensembles extend the Festival’s “long-standing tradition of musical excellence.
Oboist Ben Opie is also a Festival Director. The 2023 festival marks his sixth year in the role.
“In true form, the Festival continues to provide the best quality music in unique and exciting venues across the Mornington Peninsula. A glorious mix of local and international artists means we have a huge program filled with colour,” he says.
Accessibility is a main point of focus for the Festival: Summer Tango is a free outdoor concert featuring soprano Katrina Waters in the Balnarring Civic Reserve; Jalgany will join with Inventi Ensemble for another free concert for members of the Willum Warrain Aboriginal Association.
Led by First Nations artist Nola Launch, Jalgany released its debut EP Red Dust Salt Water last year. With an entry ticket, this collaboration will also be featured at the Peninsula Hot Springs, with other performances from the Artamidae String Quartet, 2021 Adelaide International Guitar Competition winner Clancy McLeod and ZÖJ.
In another collaboration, Melbourne Chamber Orchestra will be joined by the Festival Directors for performances of Jennifer Hidgon’s Quiet Art and Mendelssohn’s String Octet, across a weekend hosted at St. John’s Anglican Church.
The Church will also host young pianist Reuben Tsang with virtuosic Romantic works, Accademia Arcadia performing Rameau chamber works, the Orpheus Trio with works from Arbós, Dvořák, and Victorian composer Gordon Kelly. The weekend closes with a Twilight Jazz solo piano concert from the esteemed jazz pianist Andrea Keller.
Opie and Doecke are Co-Artistic Directors of Inventi Ensemble, a chamber music ensemble that performed in more than 80 concerts last year. For the Peninsula Summer Music Festival, Inventi will perform an interactive program for families centred on Grieg’s Peer Gynt suite. The ensemble’s 2020 recording of the work reached the Top 20 of the ARIA Charts.
With over 20 years in Inventi Ensemble, Opie sees a “creative alignment” that “siphons through to the Festival”. One of the most rewarding parts about working with Doecke is the accountability to which they hold each other, he says.
“We might have a wonderful idea, but in both Inventi and the festival, we’ll always challenge each other to justify our choices in programming and curation. Our main goals are to bring the highest quality music to this festival, as well as provide an accessible way to enjoy music.”
Inventi is also launching a Life Drawing workshop for the Festival, in a new partnership with the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery. It will invite participants to create visual responses to the music and the musicians, which will then be displayed in the gallery for a following performance.
Doecke notes the workshop as a perfect fit with Inventi’s mission to “broaden the scope and reach of classical music,” paving unique paths to “draw audiences into our musical journeys”. The workshop will be led by Peninsula artist Catherine Hamilton.
“We love the idea of inter-arts collaborations, so this seemed like a beautiful partnership to develop,” says Opie.
“The vision for this experience is to explore the ways music and chamber music performance can be expressed visually through sketching and painting. The visual artworks will not only represent the players, but also the music itself. We’re excited to see the spectrum of expression that will come out of this.”
Other cross-pollinated concerts pair taste with music. Two concerts from Artamidae and British recorder virtuoso Anna Stegmann will be preceded by a dinner at the Port Phillip Estate. The Main Ridge Estate Winery will host two performances from Perolas, an electroacoustic project featuring harpist and vocalist Liana Perillo, guitarist and trumpeter Fabian Aravalés and electronic drummer Louis Spencely. Stephen McIntyre will perform at Moodooruc Estates, featuring works from Chopin, Ravel and Lizst in a celebration of music and dance.
“We’ve always strived to come up with innovative ways to present music, and this year’s festival continues in this tradition, whether it’s in new venues, or artists with creative and new programs,” says Opie.
“The 2023 festival takes the best of previous years and enhances it with a broader mix of musical representation.”
More about the 2023 Peninsula Summer Music Festival can be found here.
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