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The CIMF: Music, Einstein and You

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The Canberra International Music Festival launches their stunning program of over 30 concerts and free events from this Friday, 1 May through to Sunday 10 May. The festival is inspired by one of the greatest physicists of all time, an amateur pianist and violinist, someone who maintained that music contributed greatly to their imaginative thinking – Albert Einstein.

On the back of the Centenary of Canberra and 100 years of Anzac, Canberra is set to host another century celebration. The 2015 CIMF program will mark the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s theory of relativity with the Festival itself having celebrated its 20th birthday in 2014.

Artistic Director Roland Peelman has developed a program which invites us to explore music and science, mathematics, time and motion. With artists drawn from around the world including Germany, Russia, Israel, Japan, Malta, the US and Australia (and yes Canberra!) the beautifully balanced program of music features Einstein’s beloved Bach, Beethoven and Brahms.



Over the years, the festival has benefited greatly from the generosity and willpower of a number of remarkable women, and 2015 is following suit.

Amy Dickson, Claire Edwardes, Rebecca Chan who will replace the indisposed Kristian Winther in the Opening Gala Concert, Lisa Moore arriving from New York, the piano virtuosi Gabi Sultana and Maria Mazo and last but not least our composer-in-residence Kate Moore.

Maria will feature in the Festival’s Beethoven, a piano for life series, deftly tacking the technically challenging sonata Appassionata and the tempestuous Hammerklavier. She will also perform in the Russian Masters concert.

Kate Moore will premier three original compositions including a piano installation for Lisa Moore, a new composition for the festival’s Opening Gala and a new work for Forest Music.

Of course, they are all young and at the peak of their careers.


Kate Moore pictured above at Mt Stromlo. Photography by William Hall.


“They exude energy, passion, charisma and almost superhuman skill,” Roland says.

The Festival will also be home to Anna Goldsworthy, author, commentator, musician and festival director, Gabi Sultana from Malta with her Australian debut, award winning Deborah Conway, in collaboration with Willy Zygier, taking on a wonderfully contemporary look on Jewish culture in the closing concert and the Moorambilla Voices, an outback choir helping young people from regional and remote NSW find their creative expression, led by Michelle Leonard.

While the Festival’s early focus was on chamber music, these days it has spread its wings to to include classical, jazz, contemporary and world music. Uniquely, performances are largely acoustic and the team have sought intimate, acoustically pleasing venues.

Enter the Fitters’ Workshop.

You’ve probably crammed into the beautiful, heritage listed building of a Sunday at the Bus Depot Markets. Used intermittently in recent years for exhibitions and performance, the converted venue fits their bill. Plus, it’s not far from your favourite bars and restaurants on the Kingston Foreshore.


Ensemble Offspring are young and exuberant. Photography by Heindrun Lohr Low.


There’s also the Sounds on Site lunchtime concert series. Mount Stromlo Observatory will host discussions on space exploration links and site-specific performances, the Shine Dome will enlighten audiences on the meaning of string theory from a scientific perspective, Forest Music will take you on a walk through Canberra’s Botanical Gardens for performances hidden amongst the bushes and the National Library to the High Court will take you From the Letter to the Law.

Roland believes Canberra provides the perfect setting for exploring these connections, you can also be treated to free concerts at the National Carillon every day of the festival.

“Canberra is the most beautiful place in autumn — the days are sunny, the air crisp, the colours reflect a very rich world of history and connection with the land,” says Roland.

“The Sounds on Site series is a direct response to Canberra’s environment and enables our audience to experience music in a different way, more like an art gallery where you are free to wonder about, or like a garden where you can smell the flowers or have a conversation underneath the trees, or watch the sky.

“More than any other events at the festival, it is an opportunity to get close to the festival artists as well!  It will be a lot of fun, I’m sure.”

Composer-in-residence, Kate Moore, was trained here in Canberra and has resided in Holland for the past 14 years. Roland Peelman caught up with her to ask what it feels like coming back to Canberra.

“A concoction of mixed emotions!” Kate confesses.

“On the one hand it is very familiar to me, but I am observing the city now as an outsider. I have a strange attraction to the city. It is the quiet, almost desolate landscape that surrounds the city that speaks to me most.

“It promises solitude. The subdued colours of hazy eucalyptus blues and purples and sun parched green, yellow ochre and white adds mystical buoyancy to the place. It draws me in. My time in Canberra, particularly at The Australian National University was formative for me. It was a place of learning and the excitement of discovering something new.”

Are you a student? Subject to availability, $20 student tickets with be available four hours before the individual concert start time and posted on the CIMF’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

The essentials

What: Canberra International Music Festival
When: 1 – 10 May 2015
Where: Various venues around Canberra, check the calendar for more info.
How much: A number of options available here and here by clicking on individual concerts, and don’t forget the free ones!

Feature image is Ensemble Offspring by photographer Daniel Boud.

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