Canberra International Music Festival, 2014

Inside: The Canberra International Music Festival
(Post originally published in 2014 on the first version of this website.)

“Music is the social act of communication among people, a gesture of friendship, the strongest there is.”                                                                                                     

Malcolm Arnold


In May 2014 I particpated in the Canberra International Music Festival (or CIMF) as a Young Artist Fellow. I heard about the programme through my university and other students, who had attended the festival in 2013 and came back with very positive reviews. I had never been to Canberra, and indeed had only been to Australia (Sydney) briefly once before for a viola conference back in 2012, when I was still mostly a violinist.

And I, too, most definitely had a very positive experience at the CIMF! Our daily festival activities consisted of rehearsing for a number of orchestral concert programmes. The orchestras were of varying sizes and the programmes we Young Artists were involved in consisted of a variety of mostly modern repertoire, with evocative titles such as “Heartstrings,” “Fire and the Rose,” and “The Glass Soldier.” The string sections of these orchestras were made up of both Young Artists and professional musicians, who mentored us during the week. The festival itself had many other programmes showcasing the diversity of music, from concerts led by Baroque violinist Elizabeth Wallfisch to programmes including the Australian aboriginal instrument, the didgeridoo, played by William Barton.


It seems that the percussion is separated from the School of Music…

The venues were also inspiring, with some concerts taking place in the Australian National University Llewellyn Hall, and others taking place in the specially decorated, “Fitters’ Workshop”…


The Fitters’ Workshop entrance



Fitters’ Workshop, interior view of the windows!


Gearing up for the first rehearsal

The makeshift “stained glass” windows were very striking during the evening, when the inside of the building was lit and the surroundings dark.

As part of the fellowship, travel costs were covered, the musicians were billeted with kind, music-loving host families, carpools were organized, and we were even provided with a delicious soup between rehearsals! The music directors were committed and passionate, and everyone on the organization and administrative side of things did a fantastic job.

Through my experience at the CIMF I got the opportunity to play repertoire I wouldn’t have otherwise had the chance to perform, I met many Australian musicians, both students and professionals, and made some great new friendships. My confidence as an orchestral violist increased, and I also had the added perk of getting to catch up with a seldom-visited cousin in Canberra and seeing a few of the attractions (museums, galleries, memorials, Australian parliament…) during our free time. I would highly recommend this festival, and pursuing musical involvement in festivals in general, to any young musicians who enjoy having a great time with like-minded individuals and are seeking a shot of musical inspiration.


Beautiful Canberra Autumn


Added Bonus: Some of us Kiwis also got to see kangaroos in person for the first time!


Alexa Sangbin


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