What are some of the ideas running through the 2020 festival?

The Peninsula Summer Music Festival has always embraced performing in unique spaces on the Mornington Peninsula, in 2020 we have leaned into that and gone into more adventurous territory, offering fascinating musical partnerships with unexpected instrument pairings. We love finding venues around the Peninsula that celebrate musical exploration whether it be to Holst’s Planets at Main Ridge Estate; experiencing yoga with live performance by violinist Véronique Serret; Ryan Williams (recorder) and Miyama Tokito-McQueen (koto) roaming the Peninsula Hot Springs with their unique and rare combination of instruments; or Marshall McGuire (harp) and Riley Lee (shakuhachi) coming together fusing eastern and western traditions in the beautiful art-filled Elgee Park.

Peninsula Hot Springs during the 2019 Peninsula Summer Music Festival. Photo supplied

This year we’ve been expanding on the changes we made in 2019, there’s a focus on local artists where previously there was a more significant international presence. We are also working with new venues: stunning vistas from our new venue partner The Briars will be perfect for our iconic Hair of the Dog performance with the Stiletto Sisters, Susan McCulloch has opened up her Indigenous art gallery, Everywhen Artspace for First Nations performer Eric Avery to present his violin/dance and song concert, and our family concert day sees us engaging with the brand new Balnarring Civic Reserve where families will be able to seek out musicians hidden in the reserve before coming together for a Big Sing alongside beautiful chamber music.

The program ranges from Haydn and Beethoven through to contemporary Australian composers like Katy Abbott and Nat Bartsch – do you try to strike a conscious balance between old music and new?

Yes, it’s an exciting but delicate balance to maintain a broad range of styles and composers, but our festival thrives on being diverse and embracing dynamic new interpretations of old music as well as thrilling renditions of new music. Solstice Trio, as part of the St John’s Recital Series, are champions of new works but here will be presenting works spanning 900 years by female composers. Inventi Ensemble has commissioned new partner works by Johannes Luebbers to complement their exciting new arrangement of Holst’s Planets suite.

Peninsula Hot Springs during the 2019 Peninsula Summer Music Festival. Photo © Oscar Jimenez

What are the biggest challenges of a festival like this?

I think it’s making sure that we can be as flexible and adaptable in the interesting spaces we find ourselves performing in. Each one has its own unique characteristics that we try to engage with to create really special concerts, but our virtuosic artists that perform at this festival love the excitement that comes with that aspect.

What concerts are you most excited about personally?

The St John’s Recital day is a wonderful day of varied and beautiful music making especially hearing Melbourne’s Solstice Trio perform their all female composer program in a candlelit concert. Adrian Tamburini’s Opera Gala with Inventi Ensemble at Peninsula Hot Springs will be a delight. Eric Avery performing in the Everywhen Artspace will be unforgettable. Alinta Chidzey is one of the most beautiful singers I’ve heard, her performance at Montalto will be outstanding. Also, the inimitable Peter de Jager performing two epic works in Beethoven’s Appassionata Sonata alongside Bach’s E Minor Partita will be a feat to hear and observe, I couldn’t think of anyone else who could undertake this marathon, and two concerts in one day! But really there’s something for everybody, it all excites me!

Sunset at Peninsula Hot Springs during the 2019 Peninsula Summer Music Festival. Photo supplied

There are plenty of concerts to choose from, what would be your advice to someone experiencing the festival for the first time?

I’d encourage everyone to come on the adventure with us! The Recital Day at St John’s, Flinders is a great place to start – a full day of different and accessible music by leading performers, or come along to our free family event, Haydn Seek, for a fun day in Balnarring. We also have UK-based Louisa Hunter-Bradley joining David Macfarlane and Lizzy Welsh for their concert Scorned Women, a program of rarely heard early Italian baroque works written by women at the beautiful Hurley Vineyard. There’s so much to explore on the Mornington Peninsula, and with our 19 events across 10 days, it’s the perfect opportunity to see it all and be inspired by beautiful music at the same time.

The Peninsula Summer Music Festival runs January 1 – 10