Melbourne arts patron Michael Aquilina will support a new online chamber series that will see more than 50 orchestral musicians earning performance income in June. The Michael Aquilina Chamber Music Series, presented by Melbourne Digital Concert Hall, will begin with a festival across the weekend of May 30 and 31, followed by a month of Saturday Galas and weekday chamber music highlights.

Michael AquilinaMichael Aquilina. Photo © Albert Comper

“It broke my heart to learn that some of Australia’s finest musicians were facing financial hardship,” said Aquilina, who is an avid classical music supporter. “And also the fact that they would be deprived of the opportunity to engage and play together as a result of the Coronavirus.”

The new series, which will feature socially distanced chamber performances, follows MDCH’s Faces of Our Orchestras festival, which brought in over $65,000 in ticket sales. Established at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, MDCH has already raised over $200,000 through ticketed online concerts for musicians who are otherwise unable to perform due to concert and event shut downs. According to MDCH, Aquilina’s support will help cover operating costs and guarantee an income for all artists involved.

“A leader has stepped forward in a time of great need,” said MDCH Co-Director Adele Schonhardt. “Not only has Michael thrown a lifeline to dozens of families, but he has also shown a great depth of care and set a precedent in embracing new ways to connect artists with audiences as we shape a leaner future for our sector.”

The series will feature artists including violinists Sophie Rowell and Dale Barltrop, PLEXUS, soprano Greta Bradman, as well as ensembles including a quartet of low brass, a wind sextet, and many more.

“Six months ago, we could never have dreamed of such a line-up,” said Co-Director Chris Howlett. “With diaries suddenly empty and artists facing bleak times, we must all rethink our priorities. For us, the musicians come first. Without them, arts companies and venues are nothing but empty shells.”

“These world class musicians have dedicated their lives and extraordinary talent to this incredible art for our enjoyment, just as a surgeon has dedicated their life to medicine for our health,” Aquilina said. “And just like our top surgeons, our musicians are a rare breed. I believe such dedication must be recognised and respected. This is my way of showing my appreciation.”

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