It was wonderful to present two house concerts with my harpsichordist colleague Peter Hagen in regional Victoria last week. The audience members were very appreciative, and many commented on how wonderful it was to be able to hear baroque instruments up close, rather than in a huge concert hall. This is the sort of setting that chamber music was actually intended for! It’s also lovely as a performer to play in a relaxed setting, often in idyllic surroundings.
However, it’s not just classical musicians who are exploring this type of performance – these days many folk and independent artists also perform in house concerts around the country. It’s a way of reaching a niche audience while keeping the overheads manageable.
One a more sombre note, as we drove across to the Dandenongs for the Devonshire Tea concert we passed through some of the areas worst affected by the disastrous bushfires of 2009. The black tree stumps and bare branches were a chilling reminder that this beautiful landscape of green rolling hills is not always so benign. However, the lush regrowth shows that fire is an integral part of our Australian environment, with many plants actually needing fire to germinate.