Love and classical music went hand in hand for the Barossa winemaker and founder of the Barossa, Baroque and Beyond festival.

I grew up at a time when there was but one radio in the house around which we all gathered on Sunday night when ABC Radio broadcast comedies such as the long running and utterly wonderful Take it from Here.

That same radio, permanently tuned to the ABC, was the sole source of music, and only classical at that. Consequently I have a very patchy popular music knowledge and an unswerving love of fine music which I shall loosely describe as being in the classical genre. So classical music was embedded in me as a youngster.

Margaret LehmannMargaret Lehmann

Fast forward to meeting the love of my life closely followed by the launch of ABC FM. When Peter and I collided, among many exciting discoveries we found that we shared a love of classical music. His first gifts were not flowers and chocolates, but recordings of great oratorios and masses.

Then came ABC Classic FM. What joy it brought: music around the clock. During vintage, Peter always had the radio in his weighbridge tuned to that station. Being the musical lot they are, Barossa grape growers certainly appreciated ABC FM while they waited for their grapes to be unloaded.

1990 saw the birth of the Barossa Music Festival, co-founded by violinists Brenton Langbein and John Russell. It was a revelation. The Barossa took it, the musicians and the composers to its heart and a mighty fine lot they were. We listened to musicians at the peak of their professional life and felt inspired.

Friendships were forged and connections made. The wonder of the Barossa Music Festival was looking at the programme, then one’s watch and saying, “Oh heavens, the concert begins in five minutes, let’s go.” And we would wander over to the winery where the barrel halls provided a superb acoustic, or drive down the road to a Church in Tanunda to hear a fine quartet.

Even better, we were introduced to Australian contemporary composers, whose music we had tended to avoid like the plague, becoming good friends with Peter Sculthorpe and Richard Meale. Above all, we learnt how to listen. And boy did we have some good parties – mostly impromptu – after performances. The recipe was simple. Invite friends from the audience, mix with musicians, add much good wine and plenty of food.

At this time we were fortunate to meet Reuben Zylberszpic, always referred to as Roob, who now manages The Grigoryan Brothers among others. Thus began a series of guitar concerts at the winery, and so began a warm friendship embracing our whole family.

When Peter died in 2013, some comfort came through music. Roob invited me to a guitar concert given by Slava, Ralph Towner and Wolfgang Muthspiel. Slava said, “Marg, when are we coming back to the Barossa to play?” I asked, “What is everyone doing on the October long weekend 2015?” Miracle, all were free. It was immediately put in their phones and the date was set. And, thank heavens, ASQ Cellist Sharon Grigoryan agreed to be Artistic Director.

So that’s how Barossa Baroque and Beyond came about: a music micro-fest based on friendship, the desire to have fine music makers performing live in the Barossa and performers and audiences alike having lots of fun. And that we do.

We are coming up to our third birthday and, I confidently predict, there will be many more to come. This is in no small measure due to the support of Peter Lehmann Wines who enter into the BBB spirit with gusto.


I notice most of Limelight‘s excellent contributors nominate composer/s and a particular recording. That would be impossible for me. I simply say that I couldn’t do without ABC Classic FM’s 24 hour music feast. Occasionally I don’t enjoy some of the programming, and that’s fine, but the knowledgeable and witty announcers give me (if I could stay awake) a 24-hour music education. I am introduced to new composers and hear old favourites. I can keep track of the doings of many musical friends: the Australian String Quartet, The Grigoryan Brothers, Karin Schaupp, Ben Northey for starters. It is so much better than Facebook!

Barossa Baroque and Beyond runs from September 30 until October 1 at Tanunda, SA.


classical music