Question: how do you hold an internationalfestival when you can’t import any international talent? Last year, barely six weeks before its opening event, the Canberra International Music Festival had to be abandoned due to pandemic-related constraints on travel and audience size. Several years earlier, in 2015, that genial, multi-talented/faceted maestro Roland Peelman had been appointed Artistic Director of the CIMF. Clearly, when faced with putting a program together for 2021, all of Peelman’s imagination and inventive daring was challenged to the fore.

Opening Gala, Canberra International Music Festival. Photograph © Peter Hislop

Last week the front page of The Canberra Timesdeclared that this year’s festival, its 25th, was “not on a level playing field”.

True in some respects, but not so in others. Adjustments have had to be made. Most of the concerts will be happening in the Fitters’ Workshop on the Kingston Foreshore (never my favourite venue, as readers of my reports from previous years will recall). At the same time, there are still events in other locations: the National Gallery, the National Botanic Gardens, the Australian Centre for Christianity...