Camden Haven Music Festival 2006

Recently I attended some performances at the Camden Haven Music Festival, a festival of various types of music held in the Camden Haven region of Australia (about 30 minutes south of Port Macquarie, or about 3 1/2 hours north of Sydney).

What made this event particularly special (for me at least!) was the fact that this festival featured the music of four Australian composers: Sarah Hopkins, Ross Edwards, Michael Atherton and myself.

Forum at Camden Haven Festival

The above photograph is from a forum held in the Kendall School of Arts Hall, a wonderful venue dating back many years. The forum was moderated by Damian Beaumont of ABC Classic FM. Following this forum, over the course of two days, were concerts dedicated to each of our music. On the one hand, the music of the four composers is very different: however in perhaps the most important ways they were similar. For example, Ross Edwards’ and Sarah Hopkins’ music contain aspects of spirituality, but from extremely different perspectives. The musical inspirations behind Michael Atherton and Sarah Hopkins seems to encompass more of an improvisatory approach as opposed to the strict notation of Ross Edwards’ and my own music. Damian Beaumont remarked that the difference between my music and Sarah Hopkins’ music is stark, and to some extent that is true, at least on the surface. But despite such diversity, each of the four composers was motivated by the strongest desire to have their music evoke positive ‘energy’ – the material or method of transmission was not as important as the background impulse. When it came down to the nitty-gritty, what we had in common was much more important than any diversity.

The works performed in my composer focus concert were:

    Little Chrissietina’s Magic Fantasy (James Cuddeford – vln, Stephen Emerson – pno)
    Song of Life (James Cuddeford – vln)
    Night Pieces (Paul Dean – clarinet, Stephen Emerson – piano)
    Lament (Trish O’Brien – cello, Stephen Emerson – piano)
    Piano Trio (James Cuddeford – vln, Trish O’Brien – cello, Stephen Emerson – pno)
    Always on Time (James Cuddeford – vln, Trish O’Brien – cello)

Song of Life
and Piano Trio were world premieres.

I hope that the superb work by the Artistic Director, Trish O’Brien, and the rest of the organizing committee of the Camden Haven Festival is given the recognition that it deserves from the highest quarters. It should be seen as a model for presentation of Australian music throughout the country in both metropolitan and regional centres.

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