Port Fairy Spring Music Festival's COVID-19 forced virtual event will showcase Melbourne-based musicians alongside south-west artists in what organisers hope will create a magical concert experience.
Celebrating its 30th year, festival artistic directors Monica Curro and Stefan Cassomenos have curated a week-long digital feast of classical and contemporary ensemble music complimented by artworks showcasing the region's flavours and atmosphere.
"I've curated every piece of art with each of the concerts," Ms Curro said. "There's something about the colours of the narrative that coincides with the music. They're not just pretty pictures, they're intrinsically linked to the sounds."
This year, the festival will showcase nine concerts with performances from Australian World Orchestra, Then This, Wattleseed Ensemble, Songmakers Australia, Sutherland Trio, Plexus Collective, Stephen McIntyre, Aleksandr Tsiboulski, Deborah Cheetham and special guests.
The south-west artists accompanying the music are Rachel Peters, Colleen Guiney, the master weavers of the Australian Tapestry Workshop, Kathryn Ryan, Berit Hampel, Heather Wood, Marion Manifold, Carmel Wallace and Jane Downing.
"The ambience and intimacy of Port Fairy is reflected throughout this specially curated digital program, which we encourage both first timers to the Festival and loyal subscribers to watch from home and enjoy," Ms Curro said.
"There are two emerging ensembles; Then This are all veterans of jazz, they've never performed in this form, will be one of the best jazz concerts Australia has ever seen. Wattleseed Ensemble are a group of baroque performers who have just finished their university studies.
"The theme is 'Reflection' and we've gone back through the history of festival for inspiration. We're repeating the closing concert of the first festival in 1990 for our closing festival."
Despite the coronavirus pandemic cancelling the Spring Music Festival in its usual form, the artistic directors began planning the 2020 event early.
"We had to cancel on the ground in Port Fairy but we always wanted to do something," Ms Curro said. "We have state government funding which gave us really good resources to talk about a virtual event. Even from March we were working out how to go virtual.
"No we've gone digital, we're looking to forever record our performances as the sound archival we'll have this year will be amazing.
"There's always people who can't travel to Port Fairy for the event, so this has really accelerated the accessibility of the festival."
Ms Curro said she was saddened the Saturday Night Gala would not be possible but is hopeful people will still get a community atmosphere from the virtual event.
"We're planning on doing the 2020 gala in 2021 and then do another in the actual 2021 festival lineup," she said. "It's heartbreaking we can't do it, it was life changing seeing the school kids, elderly and everyone else on stage.
"Because we can't be in Port Fairy, the south-west artwork will be how we're going to feel like we're there."
The Port Fairy Spring Music Festival will take place from November 28 to December 4 with tickets starting from $25 through portfairyspringfest.com.au.
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