Festival Artist Lineup
Artist Roland Peelman AM, Artistic Director
“His encyclopaedic understanding of performing and visual arts and his theatrical instinct place him in constant demand as a musician of flair and imagination.” – Antony Jeffrey, Many Faces of Inspiration.
At the helm of the Festival since 2015 is Artistic Director Roland Peelman, an acclaimed musician of great versatility who has established a reputation as one of Australia’s most innovative musical directors.
Artist William Barton - composer, instrumentalist and vocalist
William Barton is Australia’s leading didgeridoo player as well as composer, instrumentalist and vocalist. William started learning the instrument from his first learnt the uncle, Arthur Peterson, an elder of the Wannyi, Lardil and Kalkadunga people and was working from an early age with traditional dance groups and fusion/rock jazz bands, orchestras, string quartets, and mixed ensembles. Throughout his diverse career he has forged a path in the classical musical world, from the London and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras to historic events at Westminster Abbey for Commonwealth Day 2019, at Anzac Cove in Gallipoli and for the Beijing Olympics. His awards include Winner of Best Original Score for a Mainstage Production at the 2018 Sydney Theatre Awards and Winner of Best Classical Album with an ARIA for Birdsong At Dusk in 2012. In 2021 he was the recipient of the prestigious Don Banks Music Award from the Australia Council and in 2022 he was announced as Australian of the Year for Queensland for 2023. With his prodigious musicality and building on his Kalkadunga heritage, William has vastly expanded the horizons of the didgeridoo.
Artist Dudok Quartet Amsterdam
Dudok Quartet Amsterdam is forging a reputation as one of the most creative and versatile quartets of its generation. With its ethos of “sharing the heart of music”, the quartet is committed to crafting unique and eclectic programmes in order to engage with its audiences in new and imaginative ways. In repertoire ranging from Ligeti, Shostakovich and Bacewicz through to Mendelssohn, Mozart and Beethoven, the Dudok Quartet constantly strives to forge new pathways and connections in music. Their intelligent approach and flair for programming also sees them regularly perform their own arrangements of pieces and they have so far produced arrangements of composers including Gesualdo, Desprez, Shostakovich, Brahms and Messiaen. The Quartet is also committed to commissioning new works and have collaborated with composers including Joey Roukens, Peter Vigh and Theo Loevendie . Future commissioning projects include a new piece from British-Lebanese composer Bushra El-Turk.
Artist Bram De Looze, piano
Belgian pianist Bram De Looze is one of those musicians who is always on the lookout for new options, detours and possibilities to expand his art. His solo career began in a surprising way with ‘Piano e forte‘ (2016), a project for which he approached historical instruments from a contemporary perspective. The switch to Chris Maene’s Straight Strung Grand Piano (created by Daniel Barenboim) for ‘Switch The Stream‘ (2018) indicated a renewed search for movement, evolution and introspection. With ‘Colour Talk‘ (2020), he continued this solo trajectory on an already revolutionary piano model, again seeking innovation from within.
Artist Florian Peelman, viola
Florian has played the violin since the age of five, and after absorbing the sound of gamelan in Indonesia, started formal training in Helsinki. At the age of 14 he continued his studies at Chethams School of Music in Manchester. Returning to his Belgian roots at the age of 18, he enrolled at the Antwerp Conservatorium and switched to the viola. He completed his Masters under Walter Küssner at the world leading ‘Hans Eisler’ Hochschule für Musik Berlin achieving the highest distinction and has since continued to work there as Assistant Professor.
Artist Véronique Serret, violin
One of Australias most versatile musicians, Véronique is equally at home on the concert hall platform and the rock n roll stage. The ‘Girl from Guildford’ carving a niche for herself directing string sections for rock bands, indie artists, feature films and studio sessions. A soloist and collaborative artist, Véronique has deep gratitude for her early rigorous classical training and her many teachers and mentors along the way. Over many decades she has been fortunate to work extensively with Bangarra Dance Theatre, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Sydney Dance Company and as concertmaster of the Darwin Symphony She has directed live string sections for the likes of…
Gurrumul — Jonsi — Fleet Foxes — Neil Finn — Sarah Blasko — Amanda Palmer — Cinematic Orchestra — Neil Gaiman — Damon Albarn – Kate Miller Heidke — Ed Kuepper — Martha Marlow — Mike Patton — TIM MINCHIN.
Artist Luminescence Chamber Singers
Luminescence gives voice to human experiences of all kinds.
Luminescence Chamber Singers is a vocal ensemble based on Ngunnawal country [Canberra, Australia], and the umbrella organisation for the Luminescence Children’s Choir. Performing music from all times and places, Luminescence champions the unbound expressive potential of our original instrument – the human voice. Both ensembles deliver artistic and educational programs that ignite the imagination of audiences, and give voice to human experiences of all kinds.
Artist Ellery String Quartet
The Ellery String Quartet are a dynamic group of young musicians, formed at the end of 2021 and based on Ngunnawal/Ngambri land (Canberra). They are based at the ANU School of Music and supported by the Wesley Scholars program. They aim to push the boundaries of a ‘classical string quartet’, performing a wide range of repertoire in diverse venues across Canberra. Highlights include an astronomy-themed concert in the Yale-Columbia dome at Mt. Stromlo in October 2022, performing Scandinavian folk songs at Canberra’s Floriade festival, and hosting programs of classical and contemporary music in venues ranging from Wesley Uniting Church to Gang Gang Cafe. They have collaborated with various notable artists including William Barton (10th Anniversary of the National Arborteum), John Schumann (“Do We Still Have Time For Henry Lawson” at Canberra Writers Festival) and Ronan Apcar and Lynden Bassett (“Apcar’s Holland” and “This is What We Have Today”). They especially enjoy the opportunity to collaborate with local Canberran composers and musicians.
Artist Anna Gao, piano
Anna Gao is currently studying a Master of Music degree in Piano Performance at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music under renowned pedagogue Glenn Riddle and after completing her Masters aspires to travel abroad to Europe in order to further her studies.
Artist Claire Edwardes, percussion
In 2022 Claire Edwardes was awarded the 2022 Medal of the Order of Australia for her commitment to Australian music. She is Australia’s ‘sorceress of percussion’ (City News, Canberra) and the only Australian to win the ‘APRA Art Music Luminary Award’ four times, Claire leaps between her role as Ensemble Offspring’s Artistic Director (Australia’s new music ensemble and winners of the 2022 Classical Next Innovation Award with Ngarra-Burria) and concerto performances with Sydney Symphony at the Sydney Opera House and Radio Chamber Orchestra at the Concertgebouw.
Artist Holly Harrison, composer
Holly Harrison is an Australian composer from Western Sydney. Holly’s music is driven by the nonsense literature of Lewis Carroll, embracing stylistic juxtapositions, the visceral energy of rock, and whimsical humour. She was the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra’s composer in residence across 2020-2022, and in 2023 was composer in residence for the ASME National Young Composer Project. Her music has been described as “exploding off the page”, full of “riotous energy, eclectic rhythmic complexity” and “inventive, witty and invested with thrilling dynamism and momentum”.
Artist Niki Johnson, percussionist-composer
Niki Johnson is a percussionist and composer-performer whose musical practice incorporates contemporary classical repertoire, improvisation, interdisciplinary collaboration, and performance art. She is a current PhD Candidate at Monash University, where her research explores percussionists’ collaborations with sculptors and designers, and the process of co-creating, and composing for new sculptural instruments. Her main research project is Shock Lines, a collaboration involving Niki as percussionist-composer, glass artist Caitlin Dubler, and sound designer Natasha Dubler. Niki also works with clarinettist and composer Solomon Frank in the experimental music and theatre duo Throat Pleats. This collaboration explores shifting animalistic power dynamics, balloons, hoses, and vacuum cleaners.
Artist Larry Sitsky, pianist and composer
My teaching philosophy is closely connected with my life experience as a musician. it predicates the notion of a ‘complete’ musician rather than a specialist. To that end, I have constantly cultivated excellence in a number of spheres of activity.
As a composer, I am possibly the most commissioned Australian composer and have consciously tried to work in as many genres as possible, including opera, theatre, orchestral music, chamber music, solo music, vocal music, transcriptions.
As a pianist I have constantly explored the repertoire through various byways, some quite a long way off the beaten mainstream track and certainly have deliberately concentrated on performing our own Australian music.
As a researcher, my books have honed in on primary research and my various books have become standard texts in areas such as Ferruccio Busoni, Anton Rubinstein, Alkan, Classical Reproducing Piano Rolls, Music of the twentieth century avant-garde, Music of the repressed Russian avant-garde, 20th century Australian piano music.
As a teacher, I have endeavoured to act as a role model and engender in my pupils a similar outlook towards the profession; I feel that a good teacher should aim to make himself redundant; our role should also be that of a facilitator and problem solver, whether it is the fingering of a difficult piano passage, or the structure of a new composition.
Further reading at https://music.cass.anu.edu.au/people/emprof-larry-sitsky
Artist Jason Noble, clarinet
Jason Noble is one of Australia’s most versatile clarinettists – experimental to classical – a soloist and core member of Ensemble Offspring. Jason has performed at festivals locally and internationally, from Warsaw to London, Shanghai to Kabul, and all major cities across Australia. “His expertise and virtuosic playing give new insights into the versatility of the bass clarinet” (Sounds Like Sydney)
Artist Veronica Bailey, percussion
Veronica is Principal Percussionist with the Canberra Symphony Orchestra. Veronica has a Bachelor of Music from the Australian National University, and a Master’s degree focusing on percussion pedagogy. She also studied at the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University In 2007. Veronica is a passionate educator and has been the classical percussion teacher at the ANU School of Music since 2018 and the ANU Open School since 2010. A number of her students have won prizes nationally, participated in Australian Youth Orchestra (AYO) programs, and have been awarded scholarships to study at the ANU, Sydney Conservatorium of Music and other universities.
Artist Lior, singer/songwriter
Lior is one of Australia’s most treasured singer/songwriters renowned for his beautiful voice and songs that radiate truth and sincerity. He burst on to the Australian music scene in 2005 with his debut album ‘Autumn Flow’ which has become one of the most successful independent debut releases in Australian music history.
Lior has since released a further six albums and has toured extensively both in Australia and internationally. He is a multi ARIA award winner as well as an APRA Screen Award winner for his song-writing work for film and television.
Official bio at https://www.lior.com.au/bio
Artist Bach Akademie Australia
Bach Akademie Australia is dedicated to performing the works of J.S. Bach. It was established in late 2016 by Australian violinist Madeleine Easton who has recently returned after 19 years of living and working in Europe. Its aim is to enrich and enhance the musical life of Australia. The ensemble’s focus on mastery of performance, authenticity and originality of interpretation brings the music of J.S. Bach to life. Bach Akademie Australia is also focused on forging close links with academic institutions around the country in order to establish educational and learning opportunities for young musicians.
Artist Trio Karénine
Paloma Kouider, piano
Julien Dieudegard, violin
Louis Rodde, cello
Founded in Paris in 2009, Trio Karénine is now recognized as one of the most talented ensembles on the international scene. Guided from the outset by the musicians of the Ysaÿe Quartet, their commitment, their thirst for demanding standards and their stylistic research would later lead them along the paths of other great musicians: Menahem Pressler, Alfred Brendel, Hatto Beyerle, Ferenc Rados, Jean-Claude Pennetier…
Artist Pavel Ralev, classical guitar
Described by Aniello Desiderio as ‘a poet’, the London-based Bulgarian guitarist Pavel Ralev is establishing a strong international presence. A top prize-winner, recent awards include 1st Prizes at the 2021 Adelaide (Australia) and Zagreb (Croatia) International Guitar Competitions, and the Bach Prize at the 2020 Koblenz Guitar Competition (Germany).
He studied at the Royal Academy of Music (where he was made Associate in the 2023 Honours) with Michael Lewin, Fabio Zanon and David Russell, and completed his Masters at the University of Surrey with Steve Goss. He continues to study with John Williams.
Artist Stiff Gins (Nardi Simpson and Kaleena Briggs)
Stiff Gins – Indigenous artists Nardi Simpson and Kaleena Briggs. After two decades creating visual feasts for the stage, three acclaimed albums and earning a slew of awards, Stiff Gins are entering their most intriguing period of music-making yet. Stretching time with their unique blend of harmonies, stories and soul, let Stiff Gins transport you to a higher and deeper musical plane.
Stiff Gins are generously supported by Pam and Allan O’Neil
Artist Hamed Sadeghi, tar player and composer
Hamed Sadeghi is an Iranian-born tar player and composer based on Gadigal land (Sydney). Trained as a Persian classical musician in Tehran, Hamed’s haunting compositions give you a taste of his cherished culture.
He has performed at the most notable music festivals and in prestigious concert halls in Australia and around the world. He has toured nationally and internationally with his band Eishan Ensemble, the improvisation trio Vazesh and with Persian maestro Shahram Nazeri amongst others.
Artist Lotte Betts-Dean, mezzo-soprano
Praised by The Guardian for her “irrepressible sense of drama and unmissable, urgent musicality”, Australian mezzo-soprano Lotte Betts-Dean is passionate about curation and programming, with a broad repertoire that encompasses contemporary music, art song, chamber music, early music, opera, oratorio and non-classical collaborations. Lotte is an Ambassador of Donne, a charitable foundation dedicated to promoting gender equality in the music industry, and in 2022 she was named as an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music, an honour reserved for alumni who have contributed significantly to the music industry.
Full bio at www.lottebettsdean.com
Photo credit Benjamin Ealovega
Artist Andrew Ford, composer - writer - broadcaster
Andrew Ford OAM is a composer, writer and broadcaster who has won awards in each of those capacities, including the Paul Lowin Prize for his song cycle Learning to Howl, a Green Room Award for his opera Rembrandt’s Wife and the Albert H Maggs Prize for his large ensemble piece, Rauha. He has been composer-in-residence for the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) and the Australian Festival of Chamber Music. In 2014 he was Poynter Fellow and visiting composer at Yale University, in 2015 visiting lecturer at the Shanghai Conservatory, and in 2018 HC Coombs Creative Arts Fellow at the Australian National University. Ford has written widely on all manner of music and published ten books, most recently The Song Remains the Same with Anni Heino (La Trobe University Press, 2019). He has written, presented and co-produced five radio series for the ABC and, since 1995, presented The Music Show each weekend on Radio National. He was awarded an OAM in the 2016 Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Artist Tamara-Anna Cislowska, piano
Tamara-Anna Cislowska is one of Australia’s most renowned, ARIA award-winning pianists, performing and recording in Australia and internationally to critical and public acclaim. Earning international prizes in London, Italy and Greece such as the Rovere d’Oro, and touring Japan and the USA as cultural ambassador for Australia, Tamara’s accolades include ABC Young Performer of the Year, the Freedman Fellowship, an Art Music Award for ‘Performance of the Year’ (ACT) and the 2015 ARIA award for ‘Best Classical Album’.
Artist Hilary Geddes, guitar
Hilary Geddes is a guitarist, improviser and composer based in Eora/Sydney on Gadigal Land.She is the 2021 Freedman Jazz Fellow, a 2021 ABC Jazz Scholarship recipient, and the 2019 recipient of the Jann Rutherford Memorial Award. Hilary is the bandleader of the Hilary Geddes Quartet,and released her debut album ‘Parkside’ (ABC Jazz) with the band in 2021.Hilary works as an in-demand guitarist in the Australian jazz and improvised music scenes, performing alongside jazz luminaries such as Mike Nock, Lakecia Benjamin (USA), Jonathan Zwartz and Laurence Pike. She holds the guitar chair in the large ensemble Pharos, is a member of Ellen Kirkwood’s Underwards, and Jeremy Rose’s Earshift Orchestra for the project ‘Disruption! The Voice of Drums’, which won an APRA Art Music Award in 2022.
Photo credit – April Josie Photography
Artist Ashley Hribar, piano
Ashley Hribar is an Australian born pianist-composer-curator with a deep interest in contemporary aesthetics. Hailed as “a brilliant pianist and exceptional artist” (Heilbronner Stimme Stuttgart), Ashley’s projects embrace multimedia, world music, cross-disciplinary art forms and traditional genres. His compositions may be described as ‘poly-stylistic collages’ often employing extended performance techniques, voice and electronics.
Artist Freya Schack-Arnott, cello
Freya Schack-Arnott is an Australian/Danish cellist dedicated to pursuing a unique language of cello playing, encompassing improvisation and original composition, combined with informed and creative interpretation of classical and contemporary works within solo, chamber and cross-disciplinary art forms.
Artist Nicole Smede, multi-disciplinary artist
Nicole Smede is a multi-disciplinary artist of Warrimay Birrbay, English and Irish descent, living and creating on Gummēya Darrawal & Wodi Wodi Country. Proud of her lineage, she works with language reconnecting to ancestry and culture in song, sound and poetry.
A trained Mezzo-Soprano and graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Nicole has performed at Parliament House, City Recital Hall, Mona Foma Festival, and galleries and venues across Australia and her voice has been heard globally on award-winning film scores. In her artistic practice, she has created meditations, songs, soundscapes and music for podcasts and plays and her poetry can be found in visual and sound pieces, exhibitions, journals, publications and anthologies.
In 2020, Nicole was the co-recipient of the 2020 Shoalhaven Arts Board Grant, a finalist in the Meroogal Women’s Art Prize and shortlisted for the 2020 Red Room Poetry Fellowship. In 2022 Nicole was a recipient of the inaugural Space to Create residency through Australia Council, Yil Lull Studio and ANU. In 2023 Nicole is a participant in Ngarra-Burria First Peoples Composers program working with Ensemble Offspring and a mentee through both the APRA AMCOS Women in Music program and South Coast Writers Centre Emerging Writers program.
Photo credit – Bonnie Porter Green
Nicole is supported by CIMF’s A Major Lift
Artist Lamorna Nightingale, flute
Lamorna Nightingale is a freelance flautist, concert presenter, educator and publisher who is passionate about the future of art music in Australia. She has many years experience working in the orchestral sector and is a core member of the new music group, Ensemble Offspring. Lamorna is the Artistic Director of ‘BackStage Music’, a concert series in Sydney which fosters a culture for living music.
Artist Ben Ward, double bass
Benjamin is a musician and composer based in Sydney, Australia. Since 2009, he has been a member of the Sydney Symphony double bass section. A career highlight was his collaboration with Jasmin Sheppard; a piece after the poems of celebrated Yankunytjatjara/Kokatha writer/poet Ali Cobby Eckermann.
Recently, Benjamin has performed a solo recital, including his own compositions, at the Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery; played a solo set of double bass works at the Alice Springs Beanie Festival; and volunteered at the Garma Festival in north-east Arnhem Land for the Yothu Yindi Foundation.
2024 FESTIVAL See what shows your favourite artists will be performing in.
Over five full days, join us for a musical adventure with new works to timeless classics, a boundless collection of thought-provoking acts, featuring a stunning line up of Australian and international artists.