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Viewpoint: Director reflects on 12th PSMF

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Published: 15th January, 2019
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In my new role as Artistic Director of the Peninsula Summer Music Festival, it was my vision to fill the Mornington Peninsula with music. When I take a step back and reflect on these first two weeks of 2019 and remember driving through the hills and beaches and vineyards and forests, a beautiful wash of so much music fill my ears. Vivaldi’s In Furore being lifted to the sky from a marquee at St John’s; violin duos at sunset on the top of a hill at the Peninsula Hot Springs; Australian art song performed arm-in-arm with German lieder; new musical collaborations that created brand new Australian works; jazz at twilight with friends and family – and I had the privilege to be part of all this and more.

A bit of a catch cry I had in the lead up and during the festival was “more music for more people”, which may seem like a simple concept, but I really meant it. I feel this festival is an opportunity to share a diverse range of music with people. A free event in a park allowed picnic goers and foreshore walkers to hear the most beautiful Bach and Telemann. Partnering with the Peninsula Hot Springs meant a whole new audience were able to hear incredible performers showcase their music. Carefully chosen programs meant audiences were able to hear familiar repertoire interspersed with rare ancient gems or fascinating new music.

Something I love about this Festival is having the opportunity to activate unique spaces with music – each venue has an individual atmosphere, acoustic and feel. The next step is to find a similarly unique artist to engage with that space, to embrace its quirks and find pieces of music that suit. Whether it’s the tin roof vibrating in sympathy with a cello string, or a bird singing in harmony when the doors are open on a summer’s eve. All of these things end up enhancing performances and making them a concert to remember; so much of the feedback we’ve received has been how joyous it is to hear music in new places.

And what a delight to be able to perform in some of these concerts too. Several people did warn me against playing too much in the festival because of the rather hectic schedule, but it was too good an opportunity to pass up! Exploring new repertoire with Songmakers Australia, what a treat! And so much fun crawling around on the ground as I played Saint-Saens’ Turtle in Carnival of the Animals for our event for children. Our “Church Sonatas” concert with Inventi was a great way to celebrate the incredible Laurie organ at St Mark’s, Balnarring.

With a team of extraordinarily experienced and talented colleagues, we were able to deliver a series of diverse and exceptional concerts.

So now we look forward to future years; presenting even more music for more people, exploring all the musical offerings we can, and featuring an incredible array of musicians from Australia and around the world. All presented right here in the stunning surroundings of the Mornington Peninsula.

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Viewpoint is a new feature of Classic Melbourne, which seeks to involve performers or members of the audience in considering their experience of a performance.

Ben Opie served as the Artistic Director and performed in the 12th Peninsula Summer Music Festival, which wrapped up Jan 13, 2019.