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Coming home: Bangalow Chamber Music Festival moves to Tamborine Mountain

As charming as the Bangalow Chamber Music Festival is, it makes sense for Southern Cross Soloists to move it home to Queensland

Apr 16, 2024, updated Apr 16, 2024

For the past 20 years one of Queensland’s favourite festivals has been held in NSW.

The Bangalow Chamber Music Festival has been the jewel in the crown of the Brisbane-based chamber music company Southern Cross Soloists.

It’s a great festival in a charming village in the Byron Bay hinterland, yet Southern Cross Soloists (SXS) has just announced the cancellation of this year’s 21st Bangalow Chamber Music Festival, which will relocate back across the border after one of the longest out-of-town try outs ever.

Increased costs and lower than average ticket sales have led to the cancellation decision, which is a tough one. But this cloud has a silver lining because the festival music will now be closer to home and in the state where it belongs.

In its place this year SXS will be offering a one-day, two-concert bespoke taster event with impressive headline artists – Australian guitarist Slava Grigoryan, Finnish pianist Paavali Jumppanen and Polish violinist Jakub Jakowicz – performing at the stunning acreage surrounds of Shambala Estate on Tamborine Mountain in the Scenic Rim. (In a romantic twist, Shambala is a mythical Tibetan Buddhist spiritual kingdom.)

Shambala Estate is an enchanting venue, hidden amid the lush rainforest of the Gold Coast hinterland, offering picturesque vistas and serene surroundings, with perfect acoustics for an intimate boutique chamber music performance.

Having been to the Bangalow Chamber Music Festival I can confirm it is one of the most charming festivals ever and the audiences and artists love it. The great baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes, who sang there on occasion, told me once that it was his favourite event.

But it has always seemed a little odd that a Queensland company held their signature event in NSW. It makes so much more sense to begin a tradition of holding it at Tamborine while their concerts at QPAC in Brisbane and elsewhere will continue.

In a statement announcing the cancellation, a spokesman for the company said they are “optimistic and excited about the possibilities in Queensland, particularly in Mount Tamborine, which we believe offers the same charm and potential for our loyal audience”.

“As we embark on this new chapter, we remain committed to delivering a high-quality chamber music experience in a stunning location. We encourage everyone to join us this year for a special ‘taster’ event in the new rainforest setting of Tamborine Mountain as we look towards the future for SXS’s annual festival event in its new Queensland home.”

It is SXS’s intention to permanently relocate to Tamborine Mountain. Being back across the border it can attract local and state funding that will allow SXS to align with Queensland’s preparedness for the 2032 Brisbane Cultural Olympiad.

After this pilot event the festival will be back in 2025 with early development planning begun. As an Arts Queensland-funded organisation, SXS’s strategic future is to align with Arts Queensland’s Creative Together roadmap.

SXS will also partner with Tamborine Mountain Arts Precinct (TMAP), a non-profit organisation formed in 2023 to establish a world-class arts precinct in the heart of Tamborine Mountain. This cultural partnership will allow both not-for-profit organisations to join forces and further their aims to generate jobs for Queensland artists and arts workers, local artisans and the broader community.

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SXS board chairperson Marg O’Donnell says: “It is a unique opportunity to engage with TMAP and to assist in the process of establishing of a world-class arts precinct for Tamborine Mountain that can also serve as an emergency hub for a region that has been hit hard by climactic events.

“We all know arts venues are in much need and assist greatly with the well-being and social cohesion of communities in order for them to thrive. We are proud to put the 20-year energies of our chamber music festival behind this new long-term venture.”

The Bangalow Chamber Music Festival has been successfully running since 2002, bringing virtuosic international and national talent along with interstate tourist dollars to the region.

Letting go of it is not easy, according to Tania Frazer, artistic director of the festival and SXS.

“This decision has been a difficult one, and not something we have taken lightly,” Frazer says. “The financial landscape has changed significantly since the festival’s inception, especially with the area’s growing popularity, making it increasingly expensive to host events. As a non-profit organisation relying solely on ticket sales, this presents a significant challenge.”

Bidding farewell to Bangalow is “bittersweet” she says but, frankly, bringing the festival home to Queensland makes a lot of sense and Tamborine Mountain is handy to Brisbane, which helps.

southerncrosssoloists.com

This article is republished from InReview under a Creative Commons licence. Read the original article.

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