Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all for being here – our dearest friends, some of the people who have made it possible to put on a festival year after year.
As you may know, next year will be our 30th anniversary… and we’re a remarkable survivor in the national musical scene, mostly due to the very strong community support we’ve been fortunate to nurture through that time.
As old hands know, it would be fair to say that from time to time, there have been some bumps in the road, but CIMF rallies and goes on.
One of our greatest assets in recent years has been having an extraordinary musical director in Roland Peelman, who has brought us the highest possible standards of musical excellence through both his own skills and a broad network.
He has turned CIMF into a benchmark for what can be achieved at a festival of this size through his energy and initiative.
I want to mention particularly his efforts in several areas.
Roland has been brave and imaginative in bringing audiences work they might otherwise never hear. In doing so, he places us in the centre of Australian creative energy and the future. That should be a real matter of pride for CIMF.
He has also formed deep relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander musicians and composers, creating a longstanding, deep and very real connection for the festival with First Nations people.
Again, this is important on a national scale. It should not be presumed that work at this level happens in other places, where the connection can be shallow window dressing.
That’s not the case at CIMF – only look at the extraordinary impact William Barton now makes on the world stage.
And finally, Roland has been selfless about the festival’s good. He is conscious of our always limited funds, giving of his time and energy – the man literally lives out of a suitcase – and he’s also made many lasting friends here in Canberra.
In 2024, Roland’s second term as artistic director of the CIMF comes to an end, and after next year’s festival, he will depart from the role.
In everything there is a season, and festivals are no exception. We need to evolve and grow at all times and in all parts of our organisation.
I thank Roland from the bottom of my heart for what he’s done for us, and I know you all will do so too.
I want next year’s festival – our 30th – to also be a wonderful conclusion to his time with us, and a real celebration of what Roland has done for us over the past decade.
I hope to realise some plans to smooth his transition and ensure his legacy with CIMF is nurtured. You may shortly see us advertising the position, and there are some interesting possibilities for the future.
But for now, I want us all as a festival family to focus on Roland and his last, glorious year. Let’s make it a big one!
Chair of the Board
Canberra International Music Festival