Iain Grandage kicks off his first year as Artistic Director of the festival with a programme titled Re-Inventions.

Iain Grandage is kicking off his first year as Artistic Director of the Port Fairy Spring Music Festival with a dynamic programme titled Re-Inventions. Grandage has taken over from former Artistic Director Anna Goldsworthy and is presenting a programme that celebrates great music of the past and the way musicians are still touched and inspired by it today.

“In the vibrant and dynamic world of Post-Modern music making, composers and performers are increasingly finding new ways to honour the traditions of Western Art Music through re-invention,” Grandage said. “Contemporary composers and performers alike stand on the shoulders of the giants who preceded us, re-framing the past to inform our present world.”

Audiences will hear contemporary responses to historical masterworks, such as Max Richter’s Four Seasons Recomposed, inspired by Vivaldi’s much-loved cycle of concertos, and Joe Chindamo’s homage to Bach, the New Goldberg Variations. The centrepiece of the festival will be Reinbert de Lieeuw’s Wunderschön, which uses Schubert and Schumann Lieder, taking the form of Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire as its structure.

There will also be a strong focus on indigenous music. Quartet and Country will feature new works by composers William Barton and Deborah Cheetham – both indigenous artists with acclaimed reputations within western musical traditions, as well as deep connections to their native, Aboriginal heritage. In collaboration with the Australian String Quartet, both composers have created works that seek to find common ground between Western Art Music and the Songlines of this country. Another newly commissioned work will open the festival – a meditation on the indigenous six seasons by Gunditjmara composer Corey Theatre, performed by local school children with Archie Roach.

The festival also features performers from the Mietta Song Competition (the winners of which have just been announced) and will conclude with a brand new opera, a reinvention of The Pied Piper of Hamelin written by Victorian Opera’s Artistic Director Richard Mills. It will feature Port Fairy locals alongside Victorian Opera’s developing artists and a bespoke chamber orchestra. Other special guest artists due to perform at the Festival include Katie Noonan and Post-Modern cabaret diva Meow Meow.

“All of this makes re-invention sound like it’s something new,” said Grandage of his debut Port Fairy programme. “Nothing could be further from the truth. The very building blocks of the Western musical tradition are concerned with invention, adaptation and development, so our Festival contains not only Bach’s Goldberg Variations with a newly composed violin obligato by Joe Chindamo, it also contains Themes and Variations from composers as stylistically disparate as Ligeti and Brahms. It also contains miraculous reworkings of Australian folk songs from Bush Gothic – reworkings which, like Wunderschön, reveal an inner dramatic core of yearning that speaks directly to our fragility in this world.”


The Port Fairy Spring Music Festival runs from October 7 to 9. Tickets go on sale August 1

Tickets