Peninsula Summer Music Festival

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Published: 26th December, 2017

It is a well-known fact that, every January, Melbourne ‘s many classical music venues lose their bustling air as musicians and larger companies apparently follow their audiences to the beach for the rest of the summer. Some take their instruments with them, as the increasingly popular Peninsula Summer Music Festival attests.

Ten years ago the festival’s current Artistic Director, violinist Julia Fredersdorff, was based in Paris, and spent the European summer on the festival circuit. But back in Australia one Christmas, she realised just how many  expat musicians were home visiting family. Joining forces with arts manager Jennifer Kerr, and with the generous support of founding donor, Charles Keifel OAM, Fredersdorff found the perfect setting for a summer festival here in Victoria.The first performance took place on 03 January 2008 at Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove the inaugural Festival featuring just six performances four days, including Australian mezzo-soprano Sally Anne Russell and period instrument ensemble, Ironwood.

Within three years, a Festival Academy was added, giving young musicians the opportunity to work intensively in a residential setting alongside some of the world’s leading musicians. The first Academy took place under the direction of Martin Gester from the French ensemble Le Parlement de Musique directing Rameau’s Opera, Pigmalion – an ambitious first project which proved to be a highlight of the 2011 Festival. In a major development the following year the festival added a second week of programming, which includedmore diverse music including family-friendly, contemporary, jazz and world music, while still retaining the Festival’s roots in early and classical chamber music.

Julia Fredersdorff you describes this year’s program as “a cornucopia of delights, celebrating the unique musical and geographical environment of the Mornington Peninsula” She suggests, as well as hearing well-known and favourite performers,  that Festival visitors also try something a little different.

“From four-handed piano to Gypsy-Balkan swing, from flamenco to the majesty of Grieg, from the glory of French baroque opera to uplifting South African song, there truly is a veritable feast of wonderful performances on offer” Fredersdorff says. She herself is playing Bach with French harpsichordist Aline Zylberajch, on Sunday January 8 which later in the day has a very different kind of duo in Gypsy Magic as  Sarah Bedak and Lolo Lovina perform eastern European folk, French chanson and tango infused with Unza, swing and Balkan gypsy. 

Classic Melbourne will bring you reviews of some concerts from the Festival, but a sample of performances  over just one weekend  (with highlights on our Calendar) shows that audiences are spoiled for choice! There is also a balance of  locally-based popular artists such as pianist and composer Stefan Cassomenos, one of Australia’s most vibrant and versatile musicians, and a champion of contemporary Australian composers – and fellow-pianist Aura Go, who posted on Facebook:

“For the past nine years I’ve had white Christmases (well, freezing ones at least…) and started each New Year with cold, dark winter days. This year is a little different! Looking forward to starting 2018 with a Kiazma Piano Duo concert at the beautiful Peninsula Summer Music Festival on January 6, with a delicious four-hand program that includes Schubert’s sublime Fantasy in F minor and works by Mozart, Poulenc and Miyoshi”.

One weekend at the Festival:

Saturday 6 January

Maiden Voyage: Works for Violin and Piano  @ Church of St John the Evangelist, 12pm T
Recent winners of the prestigious MRC 2017 Great Romantics competition, violinist Kyla Matsuura-Miller, an emerging artist with the ACO Collective and pianist Adam McMillan present a program showcasing Bach alongside works from Australian composers Christopher Healey and Richard Strauss.
Kiazma Piano Duo @ Church of St John the Evangelist, 3pm 
Experience the richness and beauty of four-hand piano playing in a captivating recital featuring the impressive talents and infectious musical chemistry of Tomoe Kawabata and Aura Go. Repertoire includes Schubert’s masterpiece Fantasie in F minor D, 940, and sparkling sonatas by Mozart and Poulenc and Akira Miyoshi’s elegant suite, Cahier sonore.
Baroque Opera Gala @ St John the Evangelist, 7pm 
A feast of French baroque music performed under the stars features internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano Lotte Betts-Dean and Melbourne’s vibrant baroque orchestra, Genesis Baroque, directed by guest French conductor and harpsichordist, Martin Gester.
Sunday 7 January      
Lucinda Moon @ Church of St John the Evangelist, 11am 
One of the world’s leading baroque performers, Australian violinist Lucinda Moon (Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Pacific Baroque Orchestra, Vancouver and Elysium Ensemble), makes her festival debut performing an all-Bach program.  Repertoire includes Violin Sonata No. 2 in A minor and Partita No. 2 in D Minor.
Stefan Cassomenos @ Church of St John the Evangelist, 2pm 
Pianist and composer Stefan Cassomenos, one of Australia’s most vibrant and versatile musicians, returns to the Festival to perform a solo piano repertoire spanning several centuries and genres. Repertoire includes works by Scarlatti, Chopin, Schumann and Rachmaninoff, alongside recent works from Australian composers.
Bach Sonatas @ Church of St John the Evangelist, 4pm 
Festival Director Julia Fredersdorff and French harpsichordist Aline Zylberajch, two of the world’s leading historically-informed artists, perform an intimate recital showcasing Bach’s sonatas for violin and keyboard,.
Gypsy Magic Lawn of St John the Evangelist, 7pm  
Fronted by the captivating Australian-born, Hungarian Romani-Gypsy singer Sarah Bedak, Lolo Lovina perform an intoxicating brew of eastern European folk, French chanson and tango infused with Unza, swing and Balkan gypsy.
Details and booking: