We can almost count the hours now until the auditorium goes quiet and the first musicians walk out onto the stage to open the 29th Australian Festival of Chamber Music. This year those musicians will be two Aussie expats - mezzo-soprano Lotte Betts-Dean and pianist Aura Go. Opening Night is going to be spectacular and will introduce you to 23 of our extraordinarily talented musicians. Mind you, we think every concert in this year’s Festival will be spectacular, so hold onto your hats folks, it’s going to be epic!
In other news, we were devastated to hear two of our artists have had to withdraw from the Festival due to injury. Timothy Constable and Christopher Moore will sadly not be joining us here in Townsville. We hope they both make a quick recovery, and in the meantime are thrilled that Sydney based Robert Oetomo will fill the role of percussionist at this year’s Festival and Orava Quartet violist Thomas Chawney will step in for Christopher Moore. Read more about these two talented musicians below…and boy are we grateful they could make it!
Most of our forty musicians have arrived into Townsville or will arrive today. They all start rehearsing tomorrow. It’s pretty amazing when you think they only get two days to rehearse with their fellow musicians before we open. But that’s what makes this Festival so unique…and the performances so magical and spontaneous!
Remember, if you are dining at the Civic Theatre and wish to avoid the queues, book your Theatre Forecourt Dining between Sunset Series and Evening Series today! Order Now
Of course, the weather here is magical too and there is so much happening in Townsville this next two weeks so do be sure to get out and about while you are here. The sculpture festival, Strand Ephemera, also opens this Friday and the North Arts Festival of Australia has loads of great events happening around town too.
It really is paradise. See you in 3 days time!
The AFCM Team.
Robert Oetomo has thankfully stepped in as the replacement for Timothy Constable. We were lucky enough to catch up with Robert as he was preparing to travel to Townsville.
Q. 1. How and when did you first start playing percussion?
I am one of those late starters and yes, the stereotype of "go to the back of the orchestra and hit the triangle (literally)" is how I started playing percussion. I wanted to do the Composition degree at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music after leaving high school, but was not successful in my audition. So I rang up all the conservatoriums in Australia to see which accepted late applications, and the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music was the only one. So I went down to Tassie straight after high school to do one year of Composition there, and that's when it all began. The orchestra did Shostakovich Symphony No. 9 and was short one percussionist. The conductor at the time, Gary Wain (Principal Percussion of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, who then became my first percussion teacher) saw me perform my own piece for 2 drum kits at a Composition Department concert, and asked if I'd like to play percussion in the Conservatorium’s symphony orchestra. I wasn't able to read notes back then as I was mainly a drummer (a kit player); I've always learnt things by ear. So I was given the triangle part of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 9 and made my debut as a percussionist at the age of 18. The rest is history.
Q. 2. Do you have a favourite percussion instrument?
The best piece of advice I got from one of my percussion teachers was "be open". So always keeping that in mind, I don't really have a "favourite" instrument per se. There are so many forms of how percussion can fit in a performance; in a solo setting, chamber music setting (with other instrumentalists), orchestral setting, art installations etc. It really all depends on what the setting is! However, one of the first instruments that my parents gave me was the marimba. I tend to have a natural gravitation towards the marimba as my background is also a pianist. But I love playing crash cymbals, triangle and most colouristic instruments in an orchestral setting. I also love playing drums too. Playing Xenakis is really one the most satisfying and fun experiences that I've ever had as a percussionist.
Q3. You’ve had to jump in at the last minute – thank you! How are you preparing for your performances?
Since I am away from my studio a lot these days, I am not able to have instruments to practise on. Most of my practise actually has been listening and score reading. So when I do get on an instrument, I really know what I need to hit. But I have to say that it's really a huge pleasure and honour for me to be involved in the 2019 AFCM! I love Townsville - I was here in 2011 for the Australian Concerto and Vocal Competition.
Q4. What piece are you particular looking forward to performing at AFCM?
It's a tricky question! I have enjoyed preparing all the music for the 2019 AFCM! Kathy has really chosen such a huge spectrum of music for percussion which is awesome! It's very rewarding musically for me, and I hope for my chamber music colleagues and the audience as well.
Q5. What do you like to do outside of music?
Fortunately, music consumes most of my life but when I do have spare time, I collect die cast models of aeroplanes. I'd like to expand my collection of die cast aeroplane models actually, as I haven't had much time to do so in a while.