The second-string of Australian chamber music looks strong from sleepy Bellingen

Bellingen Music Festival

September 21, 2014

There was a lot of chamber music at Bellingen’s fifth Music Festival. The festival both ended and began with small string groups – Sydney’s new-ish Blackwattle Trio, and the more established Acacia Quartet respectively. You wouldn’t call either a blockbuster ensemble – neither have the profile of an Australian String Quartet, for example. But both ensembles had an incredible degree of artistic maturity.

Chamber music and newmusic were really the order of the day – a brave decision, but a pretty sensible one. The other performers at the festival included Synergy Percussion and Alison Morgan from Halcyon. Logistically, chamber music is just easier to organise outside a big city. The smaller music form also suits the more intimate country feel of a festival. Chamber works also tend to be reasonably short, so you can play a couple of different kinds of piece in a row – perhaps you sucker people in with some familiar Mozart and then hit them with Ross Edwards when they’re not looking. Can’t do that if you’re playing symphonies.

So it was a sensible decision. But it was...