Question Time – Ricardo Peach, Australian Festival of Chamber Music Executive Director

Australian Festival of Chamber Music’s Executive Director, Ricardo Peach steps up to answer InQueensland’s 10 questions.

Jan 31, 2024, updated Jan 31, 2024

What was the highlight of 2023 for you?
A highlight of 2023 was hosting the Governor General of Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable David John Hurley and Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley, and the Australian Festival of Chamber Music (AFCM)’s own patron, Governor of Queensland, Her Excellency the Honourable Dr Jeannette Young and Professor Graeme Nimmo, all at the same time. I have never had to engage in so much protocol in my life! But it was worth it. To have these extraordinary people advocating for and supporting classical music and highlighting the importance of the AFCM in the Australian cultural landscape, was a wonderful testament to all those musicians, patrons and supporters who have been involved in the Festival for over 30 years.

If you could have done something differently last year, what would it be and why?
I would have invested in more formal jackets.  Having only two to choose from this year, and with the number of formal functions and protocol events I had to attend, meant that I basically had one jacket on, and the other jacket in my ute, and when I had a second I would run back to my ute to swop jackets, just so that it looked like I was making an effort. More jackets in 2024! Any tips on where to get them please let me know.

Who is someone to watch for in 2024?
We have a bit of a coup for the 2024 AFCM, with cellist Christian-Pierre La Marca joining the Festival’s artist line-up from France. Originally slated to attend in 2022, ‘Crispy’ will be bringing his acclaimed Wonderful World performance to AFCM in 2024, billed as ‘an ode to nature as an artistic mission. To awaken consciences around the world‘. Wonderful World will be an immersive concert staged with images around a repertoire for cello with piano, orchestra and narrator, in the form of an Ode to Nature. Do not miss out on this one!

 What is your most vivid memory of the festive holidays?
My most vivid memories of the festive holidays is my Aunt Daleen’s ‘jello’ (perfection) salads. If rainbows could be captured in gelatine, Aunty Daleen’s Christmas extravaganzas would have outshone them. Her creations ranged from slightly unsettling beetroot surprises to vivid, fluorescent, grated carrot triumphs. Occasionally, if I remember correctly, we even had salty, gelatinous Snoek (Barracouta) in fabulously fish-shaped moulds with olives for eyes. Often, after a wild and noisy Christmas lunch, Aunty Daleen’s salads would remain mostly untouched , to live another day.

Do you have any unique or funny holiday traditions?
One thing that I have been routinely criticised and hounded for in Australia, is taking a nap straight after a big lunch, whether at home, at friends or anywhere really. I just have to have a quick lie down to recover from the overstimulation of food and chatter. It is only when I went back to South Africa and had lunch with my extended family, after which every single one of them ran to a couch or a bed or a spot on the floor to have a nap, that I realised it was genetic.

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What’s your New Year’s resolution for 2024?
I just do not do make New Year’s resolutions! But if I were to make one it would be to never make New Year’s resolutions.

If you could have anyone from any time period attend your Christmas lunch, who would you choose?
I would love to meet Mansa Musa, and listen to how he experienced the world and what his belief systems/narratives of reality was. Mansa Musa reigned c. 1312 – c. 1337 as the ninth Mansa of the Mali Empire, and is purported to have been the richest human being in history.  He achieved this a result of taxes on salt and gold (and most likely ivory, slaves, spices, silks, and ceramics as well). He was known not only for his wealth but also for his generosity. To understand how he ruled and what he did with so much wealth would be fascinating.

Coastal holiday or city holiday?
City by the coast. The best combination of both. Places like Townsville, Cape Town, Sydney, or Perth has the best of both worlds, and within an easy drive you can get away into more regional towns as well.

What are you looking forward to in 2024?
I am looking forward to traveling more in 2024. After Covid, I am still lagging behind my colleagues in cities and more connected regions of the world. Based in a regional centre has many advantages, but it is very difficult to network and get on-top of the critical issues that our industry faces nationally and internationally.  If the costs of flights come down in 2024, I hope to start connecting with my international peers again, something I did regularly before Covid.

Do you have a summer book or podcast you can recommend?
I would recommend author, activist and all round fascinating human being Sylvia Vollenhoven’s Keeper of the Kumm. In this book she explores the histories of a long-ago ancestor, //Kabbo Uhi-ddorro Jantjie Tooren, a 19th century rainmaker and respected Khoisan storyteller. I recall Sylvia telling me that writing this book was a physical, healing process for her, as she was sick at the time when she started writing the book, her health improving (and fully recovering) after connecting to ancestral knowledge. I think many of us heal when we connect to our ancestral histories, as it makes it easier for us to see where our quirks, belief systems and habits come from, which ones we want to discard and which ones we want to keep, what new ones we might like to create, and what our purpose might be in light of our own unique ancestral contexts.

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