Port Fairy Spring Music Festival celebrates 25 years of classical note

Harp virtuoso Marshall McGuire is back for this year’s Spring Music Festival in Port Fairy.

Harp virtuoso Marshall McGuire is back for this year’s Spring Music Festival in Port Fairy.

PORT Fairy’s Spring Music Festival will celebrate 25 years of bringing culture and classical music to the south-west this October.

The event will also mark 10 years since the death of composer Mark Easton, who founded the festival in 1990 with Len Vorster.

Tribute will be paid to Easton via a performance of his magnum opus A Voice Not Stilled by a chamber quartet led by pianist Benjamin Martin.

Easton called the piece “a celebration of life”, basing the work on a theme by Holocaust victim Gabriella Kolliner.

The performance is part of the 2014 festival’s theme of memory, according to the event’s artistic director Anna Goldsworthy.

“Memory runs as a leitmotif through this program,” Ms Goldsworthy explained.

“Composers engage in dialogue with the past: Brahms looks to Mozart in his viola quintet, Grabowsky looks to Bartok, who then looks to Bach.

“We explore cultural memory, remembering the First World War, the Normandy landing, and the Holocaust.

“Childhood memory is a rich subject for music, as is memory of place, be it Florence, Le Chat Noir or Henry Lawson’s outback.

“And we allow ourselves the indulgence of some personal memories, too, reflecting on 25 years of exhilarating spring music in Port Fairy.

“We also are thrilled to welcome back favourite performers from past festivals including Stefan Cassomenos and Paul Grabowsky, tenor Christopher Saunders, harp virtuoso Marshall McGuire, and Ensemble Liaison.

“And while we reflect upon, honour and celebrate memory, we are also proudly laying a foundation for the next 25 years of this great festival by welcoming new performers and the premiere of new works from the region and abroad.”

Saunders and Cassomenos will perform a Schubert song cycle, while other highlights will include a night of story and song with local singer-songwriter Shane Howard, a tribute to Erik Satie, a program of French music for two pianos, a performance by harpist Marshall McGuire, the Australian premiere of Rick Ian Gordon’s Orpheus & Eurydice song cycle, quintet performances of Mozart and Brahms, a musical tribute to poet Henry Lawson, and the return of the popular Spontaneous Broadway improvised concert.

The festival takes place on October 10-12.