Bellingen Music Festival
~ Friedrich Nietzsche
"Without music, life would be a mistake"
The Bellingen Music Festival proudly supports the Bellingen Community Arts Council's Music By Youth Project.
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For this newsletter, we have asked Andrew Batt-Rawden, the Artistic Director of the Festival, to write to us about the Festival’s direction and how he came to select the various performers in the program.

Andrew enthusiastically offered to be Artistic Director after attending last year’s Festival and seeing the potential for it to be a magnificent experience for its audience again this year. Having built programs in similar roles for the Vivid and the Aurora Festivals in Sydney, he also was keen to help grow and enhance the Festival to ensure its ongoing sustainability.

“I fell in love with the place… Bellingen is absolutely stunning, and all my colleagues who have been here are just as enthusiastic about it too – everyone here I meet is so engaged and creative that it is little wonder the town has so many artistic activities always going on.

Given this artistic milieu, I felt an eclectic program mix of sophisticated international contemporary masterpieces, works by great Australian composers and historical gems would be perfect. I also wanted instrumentation variety to give attendees unique experiences across the three days.

My other motivations for the Festival were to introduce audiences to artists on the cusp of their journey towards great acclaim, to support local musicians, and to draw attention to locally-grown composition. This complex mixture of objectives has resulted in the creation of an exquisite series of events.

The Acacia Quartet has been recently formed by four extraordinary musicians. They have a commitment to contemporary works and will be presenting works by Elena Kats-Chernin, Lyle Chan and Phillip Glass. Their performance will be followed by Synergy Percussion’s performance of Iannis Xenakis’ masterpiece, Pleiades. Synergy had to create their instruments for this event from scratch to adhere to Xenakis’ unique tuning system. The piece was a hit in Sydney last year and I’m glad to be able to tour it to Bellingen.

Recorder and percussion make a great combination, especially when played by Alicia Crossley and Josh Hill of Duo Blockstix. Alicia’s creative voice has a confident eloquence that owes to her instrument’s heritage. Josh is a member of Synergy and one of the most versatile percussion performers in the country. They perform works from the 15th century right up to music written in 2012. In the same vein, local musicians Duo Minerva perform renaissance and baroque music on their guitars through to contemporary Australian works. Their charming performance in last year’s Festival was so good that I wanted to acknowledge their development by presenting them in a more formal concert format.

The Bellingen Youth Orchestra is a cornerstone of the local music scene and was an obvious choice for this year’s Festival. Their program is yet to be 100% locked in, which adds further to the excitement. Some of the musicians in this orchestra will undoubtedly be amongst the leading musicians of the future. This concert will also include new works by local composers performed by the Acacia Quartet. Being a composer myself, I’m particularly excited by this event.

Soprano Alison Morgan and pianist Josephine Allan perform an eclectic collection of works with music by Maurice Ravel and John Cage as well as Australians Katy Abbott, Andrew Schultz and Nigel Butterley. Of this, I’m particularly looking forward to the John Cage and Katy Abbott works. Alison and I have collaborated on a number of projects and I find her to be the embodiment of artistic, versatile grace. She’ll need that versatility with this program – the aesthetic leap between Ravel’s Five Greek Folksongs and Cage’s The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs and Flower is immense. It is fitting to have one of Nigel Butterley’s works in this concert as he draws from just as unique a sound world. Nigel was one of my teachers ten years ago at the Sydney Conservatorium.

A newly formed piano trio – Blackwattle Trio - perform Ross Edwards, Astor Piazzolla and Dimitri Shostakovich in a seriously enjoyable program. I can’t wait to hear this program, mainly because I think Blackwattle is the best trio I’ve heard in a long time. I have “composer envy” hearing them perform other composers’ works.

In addition to these performances, local choir Akabella will again delight their audience. And in addition there are informative workshops for strings and percussion.

Mixing International contemporary masterpieces and modern Australian works (from a broad range of aesthetics), performances of light and heavy music, spectacular grandiosity through to delicate modesty, romantic, baroque and renaissance repertoire – the 2014 Bellingen Music Festival engages with the great western classical music tradition and its current manifestation in contemporary repertoire. I cannot wait for this year’s Festival!”

The Festival gratefully acknowledges our supporters: Camp Creative, Limelight, Australia Council, Regional Arts NSW, Essential Energy, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Bellingen Shire Council.

Tickets to the Music Festival can now be purchased at the Waterfall Way Centre, Bellingen (ph 6655-1522) ! Or visit our Buy Tickets page for other options!

The JULY QUIZ is now open on our Facebook Page! more...

Want to help young people with their music education and get some fabulous rewards at the same time?
The Music Festival is raising money for the Music By Youth Project on and for as little as $10 you can help. Depending on your level of support, your reward may be CD’s, DVD’s, free tickets to concerts, dinner with a composer and more. Of course, all donations come with a warm fuzzy feeling of doing a good deed for young musicians. For more information go to our
Music By Youth page and visit to both give and receive!


e-newsletter no 2. May 2014

From the 19th to 21st September 2014 Bellingen will again become alive with superb classical music performances. Australian and local artists will explode into the valley, performing a mixed program of newly commissioned Australian music, recently composed music, and works from the early music, romantic, and 20th century repertoire.

The excitingly diverse program of seven events across the three days, compiled by innovative artistic director, Andrew Batt-Rawden, will expose audiences to familiar and new music. Opening the Festival is the Acacia Quartet, whose performances have been reviewed with high praise for their versatile and inventive programs. These four young musicians with an infectious passion for chamber music have built a great following for their ‘exciting music, excitingly played’.

Synergy Percussion will burst into performance at the very first concert also. This Australian internationally acclaimed ensemble is now forty years old. Their many local and overseas performances attract very high acclaim. Synergy will perform Xenakis’ impressive work Pleiades, said to be the most ambitious work for percussion ensemble ever written. Synergy’s passion and energy promise to make for a truly memorable experience.

Soprano Alison Morgan, co-director of Halcyon, is one of Australia's foremost interpreters of contemporary vocal music. With audiences recalling ‘an evening in absolute nirvana… a positive feast of vocal artistry’, Halcyon presents stunning performances of vocal chamber music from around the world. For the Bellingen Music Festival, soprano Alison Morgan and noted Australian pianist Josephine Allan bring together a delicious collection of songs for you to revel in, from Ravel's intensely beautiful Five Greek Folksongs to the completely modern and irresistible The Domestic Sublime by Melbourne composer Katy Abbott.

Unique this year is the educational component. Composer Andrew Batt-Rawden will be in Bellingen numerous times ahead of the Festival to work with local year 11 and 12 students. He will workshop a new work with the much-loved Bellingen Youth Orchestra, to be premiered at the Festival.

Innovative recorder player Alicia Crossley with Synergy percussionist Josh Hill, performing as Duo Blockstix, will play pieces ranging from the 15th century to 2012. Gifted local classical guitarists Karin Braidwood and Kari Winer, performing as Duo Minerva, make up that concert. The recently formed Blackwattle Trio completes our exciting line-up of performers. We are also delighted to announce that instrumentalists can get up close with the Acacia Quartet, as they lead a strings workshop on Saturday Sept. 20th on rehearsal and performance techniques and give an insight into the team-dynamics of playing together as a quartet. Singers will enjoy a fabulous energising workshop of breathing, moving, singing and laughing with Alison Morgan of Halcyon as she coaxes beautiful vowels and a supported tone out of your body. Alison believes that with a bit of guidance, every voice can find its own unique 'sweet spot'.

The 2014 Bellingen Music Festival will deliver a festival like none other. Youth, new music, and vibrant performances throughout promise an experience not to be missed. Explore the website for details of all the festival events including the opening night welcome party in Maam Gaduying (Meeting Place) Park opposite the Bellingen Memorial Hall. Weekend Passes, providing entry to all five concerts and a workshop, and single concert tickets are on sale now via our secure online server on our Buy Tickets page, from the Nexus Community Gallery Bellingen and Park Beach HiFi, Coffs Harbour or EMAIL

The Festival organisers gratefully acknowledge the support of Camp Creative and Limelight Magazine in making this festival possible.
September 20~22nd 2013
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