Have you ever wondered how festival programs are constructed? Well, in the case of the 2022 Canberra International Music Festival, Artistic Director Roland Peelman has devised a series of 22 concerts and countless other smaller events, intending them to be “a walk through history with music from around the globe reflecting the polar opposites embedded in our planet and our humanity”. In this year’s CIMF program, Peelman’s “walk through music history” embodies reflection on geographic and cultural poles, as well as political and stylistic polarities. It’s a fascinating and high-minded construct, but one that seems to have left a few punters puzzled.

The puzzlement was clearly – if that’s the word – illustrated in the tenth concert, The Great Divide, which brought together early Spanish music, a solo piece by Steve Reich and a string quartet by Shostakovich. On paper, it looked fairly abstruse and unlikely but, as with many of Peelman’s more erudite constructs, it required considerable reflection to find the links between each segment.

Perhaps I was on the wrong path altogether. More than one person in the audience suggested we should just jettison any search for connections, and just enjoy the music for what it is.

Our ‘walk’ began...