Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Queensland Music Festival has today announced its program for 2019. Over three weeks in July, Artistic Director Katie Noonan will again showcase exciting local and international talent across Queensland, taking in its cities, regions and remote areas as well as working with its communities. For her second program for the biennial festival, the singer-songwriter has chosen to explore themes of curiosity, creation, public participation and the ability to bring about change through music.

Katie Noonan, Queensland Music FestivalQueensland Music Festival Artistic Director Katie Noonan

“The 2019 Queensland Music Festival program is a true reflection of the paths the event has walked over its last twenty years,” said Noonan. “Queensland Music Festival has always reflected the Queensland of yesterday, today and tomorrow and this year’s event is a true representation of that. It shines a light on things Queenslanders hold dear, hidden stories of our state and gives opportunity for the public to participate. Anyone with a voice can sing and using music to engage, educate and inspire is what Queensland Music Festival is about.”

For classical music audiences, one of this year’s highlights is the world premiere of a chamber music work by Australian composer Jessica Wells. Commissioned to bring attention to the plight of the endangered Night Parrot, the work has been inspired by the bird’s unique call, said to be both haunting and melodic. Night Parrot will be performed by soprano Morgan England-Jones and the Acacia Quartet.

Jessica Wells. Photo supplied

Another highlight of the program sees four of Brisbane’s community choirs come together to perform the Verdi Requiem under conductor John Curro. Even more choir members are expected to gather for another festival event, which hopes to advocate for the importance of men’s mental health. With special guest Glenn Shorrock, thousands will gather to sing his Help Is on Its Way, to be conducted by Dr Jonathon Welch. The concert will be livestreamed, allowing community choirs across Australia to take part in this special choral event.

The popular Opera at Jimbour returns this year in a new, all-day gala event. Tenor Rosario La Spina, soprano Sarah Crane, mezzo Hayley Sugars and baritone Shane Brown will be joined by Vanessa Scammell conducting the Queensland Youth Orchestra for a celebration of the art form and the region’s fine wine and fresh food.

Opera at Jimbour. Photo supplied

The Stradbroke Chamber Music Festival also returns under the QMF banner, offering three days of music held at intimate venues in the magnificent surrounds of North Stradbroke Island. Two of the concerts will focus on the music of Czech composers, culminating in a performance of Dvořák’s Dumky Trio, while another program will celebrate the music of Fanny Hensel, Felix Mendelssohn and Clara and Robert Schumann.

Chamber music fans will also find plenty to interest them in concert series Twilight in the Red Box. Curated by Patrick Murphy and to be performed in State Library of Queensland’s Red Box space, all music is programmed on a central theme and will feature classical musicians from the University of Queensland. The opening concert will be performed by the distinguished Tinalley String Quartet.

Twilight in the Red Box. Photo supplied 

Other cherished ensembles to participate in the festival this year include Ensemble Q, whose Concert 3, Champions, opens with the winning group from the inaugural Queensland International Chamber Competition. The Ensemble will be joined by Melbourne Symphony Orchestra concertmaster, Dale Barltrop for a program that includes Bartók’s Contrasts and Brahms’ Piano Quintet in F Minor.

The Australian String Quartet will meanwhile treat audiences to one of its hour-long Close Quarters concerts at the Bromley Room at West Village. Meant to welcome families and establish an intimate, casual atmosphere, the Quartet will perform both classical and contemporary works.

Other events to look forward to at this year’s festival include a celebration of Helpmann-Award nominee, multi-instrumentalist and composer John Rodgers. Associated with QMF since 2001, the concert brings together some of his distinguished collaborators – among them Kate Miller-Heidke, Erkki Veltheim, Paul Grabowsky and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra – to showcase his eclectic body of work. Jessie Lloyd will also bring her Mission Songs Project to the festival, which explores what daily life was like for Indigenous Australians on Christian missions and state-run settlements. As well as performing her own songs, Lloyd will explain their origins to the audience, with those works on the program originating from communities around Queensland. And accompanied by the Tinalley String Quartet, Archie Roach will perform some of his greatest hits in a concert reminding us his powers as a storyteller.

The 2019 Queensland Music Festival is on from July 5 – 28 

Full program details