A GRAND piano placed in the middle of Port Fairy’s Hub Café sums up the intent of this year’s Spring Music Festival organisers. They want it to be open to everyone.
Organised from Melbourne, promoters are well aware of the out-of-town image the festival holds. They want to change that.
Festival member Jennifer Whitehead said the event had increased its local attendance over recent years but still had a way to go.
“It was 60 per cent but now it’s 50 per cent. Our regional attendance is increasing,” she said.
“It’s hugely important to us.”
Classical music confined to halls is generally at odds with the town’s “Folkie” street music vibe, but Ms Whitehead hopes the festival will “broaden the horizons”.
“It’s a challenge to make ourselves relevant to the community. We are offering the community something they wouldn’t get to see normally. We’re very conscious to include music classes from all the schools,” she said.
Unpredictable spring weather makes organisers wary of using the village green for any performances.
“In the past we’ve tried to make it into a festival occurrence for the community but the weather is a determining factor.”
Acoustics too are an issue. Strings and softer sounds need hall walls to bounce off and resonate.
“We’re dealing with the lecture hall that is still under renovation but the production crew have been very clever,” she said.
The theme of this year’s festival is voyage.
“That can be anything from physical voyage, to voyage of the mind or voyage of the heart.”
For promoters it means moving the offering beyond classical and jazz.
Contemporary Aboriginal song group the Black Arm Band is one of a number of highly anticipated weekend acts.
As for the piano in the café, anyone is welcome to take the seat and strike a note. “Anyone can come in and play it. It’s something we hope to expand on,” Ms Whitehead said.