The Australian Festival of Chamber Music today announced that the 2017 festival will be Piers Lane’s final year as Artistic Director. English pianist Kathryn Stott – who will be a guest artist next year – will take over the reins from 2018 onwards.

“Piers has been a part of the AFCM family for such a long time that it is inevitably sad to say goodbye,” said Festival Chair Sandra Yates. “But over the past decade, the Festival has doubled in size, and Piers’ stature as an international concert pianist has grown exponentially too. This decision will create new opportunities for Piers, and the Festival, and we part with mutual regard, and the confident expectation that we will welcome Piers back as a performer many times in the years to come.”

Lane’s tenure as Artistic Director has been highly successful, his contract extended a number of times over his 11-year stint in the job. “My times in Townsville have been among the happiest in my career,” he said . “My mother’s side of the family were all born there, so the North is in my blood and my relationship with the Festival has been a very meaningful one. Though my time at the helm of the AFCM is coming to an end, my association with the city and the festival certainly won’t. And I’m thrilled that Kathy Stott will succeed me – there isn’t a more suitable artistic director on the planet! She is a truly great musician and person and has all the qualities and contacts to take the festival to new heights.”

“It’s like a dream, I’m so happy about it,” Stott told Limelight. “It’s a great challenge. Piers is no small act to follow. He’s leaving this festival in extremely good shape – I’m going to be taking this very seriously! “It’s a real privilege to be asked to do this, because the festival has been going 26 years – it’s so well-established, so to be invited in to this is a huge honour.” And for the English pianist, the location on its own is a draw card. “Townsville is a great location,” she said. “You’ve got the ocean right there!”

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2017 will be Stott’s fourth AFCM as a performer and it isn’t just the views that keep her coming back. “What I love is that you might walk down the street and then meet people from your audience and you can chat,” she said. “I think the collaborative spirit is why musicians take part in festivals like this. You enjoy being together, share your musical experiences, your life experiences, and just see where that takes you.”

Performing at the festival in 2017 will also have a research component for Stott. “When you come in and you play, you don’t think too much about how things might be put together,” she said. “So I’ll be thinking with a little bit more of a logistical hat on. I might be looking at the whole town in a slightly different way. I’ll be trying to communicate a little bit more with members of the audience, just to get their thoughts on things, in a bit more of a quizzical way than I might have done before. My eyes and my ears will be completely open because I will be looking ahead.”

Are there any big changes planned under her direction? “Any position like this, we’re custodians of something that’s already amazing,” she said. “What I want to do is put my own stamp on it – I don’t want to rock any boats. What I want to do is just see where there might be little areas that I can bring something to the table that’s connected to myself and just keep reinventing things and finding ways to keep it interesting and exciting.”


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