The late Peter Nance, then President of Camp Creative, a community organization dedicated to the promotion and development of creativity, founded the Bellingen Music Festival in 2010. The Festival has been held annually since then and is now a major and highly anticipated event in the cultural calendar of the NSW Mid-North Coast.
The Festival has a strong reputation for its high quality and innovative program and is a long way toward achieving its vision to be a significant regional music festival in the Australian calendar, presenting high quality music from differing classical traditions and performed by a diversity of established, emerging and local artists. Partially through the growing Fringe program, the original repertoire scope has been successfully widened to include classical, jazz, contemporary and world music.
A particular aim of the Festival is to engage, enrich and inspire young and upcoming musicians whether they are still at school, studying music or actively building their professional careers. We regularly work with Music Viva in achieving this aim and very much appreciate its support. These young rising stars tell us they love coming to our festival and enthusiastically engaging with our community.
A unique and distinctive feature of the Bellingen Music Festival is its Music-by-Youth Project, which is coming into its third year thanks to financial support from the Australian Government’s Festivals Australia and the Camp Creative Board. This distinctive feature was initially the brainchild of young composer Andrew Batt-Rawden and we are grateful for his continued support of the Festival as publisher of Limelight Magazine. The Music-by-Youth Project supports and mentors local young musicians through performance in the Festival and participation in associated workshops. Music HSC students have been fortunate enough each year to have their works recorded and performed by the generous and supportive Acacia Quartet.
We are very proud of the fine young musicians of the Mid-North Coast and of our role, through the Music-by-Youth Project, in helping and supporting them and providing opportunities not only for them to perform in a professional setting, but also to have their compositions recorded and performed by a professional ensemble. Composer Paul Jarman acted as a mentor to the students and in 2016. He was also the Festival’s Composer-In-Residence and the local Bellingen Youth Orchestra performed his stirring composition, Wuuban Barri, at the 2016 Festival. Sally Whitwell is our 2017 composer.
The Festival is grateful for the support of the community. We receive much support in kind as well as financial support from the Bellingen Shire Council, Camp Creative and the Regional Arts Fund, an Australian Government initiative that supports sustainable cultural development in regional, remote and very remote Australia.