Peninsula Summer Music Festival Review

Audiences at the 6th Peninsula Summer Music Festival are being treated to some tip top performances by world-class musicians. Throw in the laid back seaside surrounds, a glass or two of local vino and plenty of audience access to off-duty musicians and you’ve pretty much got the vibe. Early signs indicate that this year’s festival will break all previous attendance records with a correspondingly high audience enjoyment factor.

The festival kicked off with Cantatas by Candlelight held in the quaintly named St James the Less Church at Mt Eliza. Instruments from the Baroque period included the traverso, (played by Georgia Browne) the violone (Laura Vaughan) and Vulture’s favourite, the oboe d’amore (Kirsten Barry). The talented 2013 Festival ensemble also included Alice Evans and Catherine Martin on violin, Heather Lloyd on viola, Howard Penny on cello and Donald Nicolson on the organ.

Some pretty impressive multi-tasking was undertaken by oboist Kirsten Barry, who occasionally helped out visiting tenor Paul Bentley and bass-baritone Nicholas Dinopoulos in the singing department. The Lutheran liturgical texts chosen by JS Bach for his cantatas are not known for their light heartedness, but local boy Dinopoulos managed the almost impossible by delivering lines like “Ah how delightful is my coffin for me” with a twinkle in his eye. Throw in the welcome glass of sparkling Pas-de-Deux and the result was a great introduction to a festival that combines quality live music with the best of local produce.

40 kilometres south of St James the Less is St John the Evangelist in Flinders, the venue for day two of the festival. The morning session was the Acacia Quartet’s performance of a programme of Elena Kats-Chernin ‘miniatures’. There is a lot to love about this composer: she’s talented, she’s Australian and she’s alive. Her music is an engaging mixture of classical and contemporary, often playful, never discordant, and always accessible.

The Acacia Quartet has recently released Blue Silence, a double CD of Ms Kats-Chernin’s complete works for string quartets, and performed a selection from it for the festival. The Eliza Aria was not only a highlight but unexpectedly familiar. It was used in an advertisement for Lloyds of London. The story goes that the bank was flooded with inquiries – from people wanting to know the name of the piece. Not sure how much business was generated for Lloyd’s, but it didn’t do Elena any harm.

In true Aussie style, a sausage sizzle was held under the pine trees in the church grounds between the morning and afternoon performances. Off-duty musicians chatted with festival-goers in between mouthfuls of gourmet sausages in artisan bread, or slurps of Rahona Valley Rosé.

The afternoon concert of Baroque Trio Sonatas was a delightful mixture of Baroque composers and an ensemble clearly at ease in each other’s company. Add to that the number of festival musicians seated in the audience and festival-goers were treated to the best kind of love-in. Inclusivity and accessibility are the trademarks of a great festival. Throw in a truckload of talented musicians playing thoughtfully chosen music with broad appeal and you have got yourself a festival. There’s still plenty to enjoy so switch on the GPS and head on down.

Dates: 29 December 2012 – 6 January 2013
Venues: Venues across Red Hill, Flinders, Moorooduc, Rosebud, Merricks North and Mt Eliza
Bookings: Frankston Arts Centre Box Office (03) 9784 1060 or online via
Book direct with venue for Twilight Jazz at Montalto (03) 5989 8412.
Cost: Separately ticketed events, from $15 to $130

Highlights still to come:

Wednesday 2 January
12.00pm Sorrow Stay, Hummingbird Eco Retreat, Red Hill
6.45pm Chanson d’Amour, Main Ridge Estate, Red Hill South
8.30pm After Hours: Alwan, Port Phillip Estate, Red Hill South

Thursday 3 January
6.00pm Clair de lune, Moorooduc Estate, Moorooduc
8.30pm After Hours: Tim Stevens Trio, Port Phillip Estate, Red Hill South

Friday 4 January
6.45pm Chanson d’Amour, Main Ridge Estate, Red Hill South
7.00pm Combattimento, St James the Less, Mt Eliza

Saturday 5 January
10.30am Recital 3: Latitude 37: Paris Quartets 1, 2 & 3, St Johns, Flinders
2.30pm Recital 4: Ludovico’s Band, St Johns, Flinders
7.00pm The Seasons, Moorooduc Estate, Moorooduc

Sunday 6 January
10.30am Recital 5: Latitude 37: Paris Quartets 4, 5 & 6, St Johns, Flinders
2.30pm Recital 6: Reimaginings, St Johns, Flinders
7.00pm Twilight Jazz, Montalto, Red Hill South

Acacia Quartet:

Lisa Stewart, Veronique Serret (standing in for Myee Clohessy) – violins

Stefan Duwe – viola

Anna Martin-Scrase – cello

Baroque Trio Sonatas:

Catherine Martin, Alice Evans – violin

Howard Penny – cello

Donald Nicolson – organ

Betty Barker


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