Here’s some footage (unedited) via YouTube of the Festival’s opening item, with Jan-Piet Knijff and I performing F. Couperin’s Premier Concert. We had performed in ensembles together quite regularly when I was a student in The Netherlands in the late 1980′s to early 90s, but hadn’t crossed paths since then until Jan-Piet moved to Armidale, NSW, Australia! Listening back to this video, you would think we had rehearsed together for weeks!
Personally I think one of the most exciting aspect of music festivals in general is that they often provide an opportunity to bring performers together, to renew musical friendships, make new connections, and share all of this with the audience. In the late 1990′s I had the opportunity to perform in two opera productions for the Sydney Festival. Again, both orchestras combined musicians from opposite sides of the globe, and were a great experience for cultural exchange, networking, and renewing contacts with colleagues from my days spent in The Netherlands. Classical musicians in this country are so isolated, that these valuable opportunities to work alongside overseas colleagues are few and far between.
For that reason, I was very disappointed to read via the Music Council of Australia‘s news feed that, next year, to save costs, a baroque orchestra is being fully imported from Germany for a Sydney festival production of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, rather than employing any Australian musicians. This seems like a wasted opportunity, and petty money saving.