Radio ga ga: Why this classical music festival continues to thrive

While music festivals around the country are being cancelled at an alarming rate, the 4MBS Festival of Classics is going from strength to strength

Apr 30, 2024, updated Apr 30, 2024
The 4MBS Festival of Classics, May 17-26, will finish with a Choral Spectacular at Brisbane City Hall with special guest star the soprano Mirusia.

The 4MBS Festival of Classics, May 17-26, will finish with a Choral Spectacular at Brisbane City Hall with special guest star the soprano Mirusia.

A Chopin marathon. You’d like to see that? Hear that? Who doesn’t love Chopin?

Well, you’re in luck because the 4MBS Festival of Classics features one such marathon this year. And so much more.

And as Gary Thorpe, general manager of 4MBS Classic FM and the brains behind the festival points out, it is on for the 31st time in a period when music festivals all over the country are being canned.

“With festivals being cancelled around Australia, 4MBS Classic FM continues to put its faith in Queensland talent,” Thorpe says.

“We are proud to announce the program for the 31st annual 4MBS Festival of Classics, which is on from May 17 to 26. We have 20 concerts in 10 days in a dozen venues with over 600 Queensland musicians.”

This year’s festival features a French flavour, opening with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra under Umberto Clerici performing Hector Berlioz’s wonderful Symphonie Fantastique.

“Chopin spent much of his life in Paris performing in the fashionable salons, and we are presenting a Chopin marathon to mark the 175th anniversary of his death,” Thorpe explains.

“We are celebrating that anniversary with a day of his most beloved piano works. You will hear them played by talented Queensland pianists – John Granger Fisher, Mark Hooper, Mitchell Leigh, Natasha Vlassenko and Oleg Stepanov in the University of Queensland’s iconic Nickson Room.

“One Equal Music perform French choral masterpieces in their Ars Nova to Impressionism concert. Former Queensland Symphony Orchestra concert master Warwick Adeney and popular pianist Stephen Emmerson will mark the centenary of Faure’s death in a concert called Duo Concertant.

“We remember 4MBS’s broadcast manager Howard Ainsworth with a memorial concert of music of Bach and Beethoven – two of Howard’s favourite composers. We’ve called it Double Bach and Beethoven.

“And for those who remember The Three Tenors, the festival is presenting The Three Countertenors – Hartley Newnham, Adam Lopez and Tobias Merz – performing with the Queensland Baroque Orchestra.”

It’s the showcasing of Queensland talent that is so special in this festival. It’s not just tokenism, though, because we have world-class artists based here.

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One of the treats this year is Brisbane superstar classical guitarist Karin Schaupp performing with Camerata – Queensland’s chamber orchestra – on May 22.

This performance showcases two exquisite pieces of music. Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words, usually for solo piano, will be performed in a delightful new arrangement for guitar and strings. You’ll hear some of Mendelssohn’s favourite tunes in this lyrical music, imbued with feeling – music in its most pure and simple form.

“And if you attended last year’s festival and caught, I Shall Hear in Heaven, the play about Beethoven, you’d have heard the wonderful arrangements of Beethoven’s music played by a string quartet and piano,” adds Thorpe.

“We are giving music lovers the opportunity to enjoy the music again in a concert called Beethoven: By Special Arrangement,” Thorpe explains. “Beethoven’s Symphony No 5 is on the program. The venue is the magnificent Grand Hall of the Masonic Memorial Centre.

“And by popular demand we have brought together two magnificent choirs – the Queensland Choir and Brisbane Chorale – for a Choral Spectacular with the Brisbane Symphony Orchestra to bring the festival to a rousing close in the wonderful Brisbane City Hall. It will be a fitting finale to the 31st 4MBS Festival of Classics. We sincerely thank Brisbane City Council for their support.”

And to add some spice, the finale will feature special guest star, Brisbane soprano superstar Mirusia.

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

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