Peninsula Summer Music Festival 2024

PSMF Melissa Doecke and Ben Opie at the Peninsula Hot SpringsAs the sun rises on New Year’s Day 2024, Artistic Directors Ben Opie (Oboe) and Melissa Doecke (Flute) will perform at the Peninsula Hot Springs in the first of twenty classical and contemporary musical events being presented across the Mornington Peninsula over eight days for the much-loved annual Peninsula Summer Music Festival 2024.

Opie and Doecke said they are delighted to continue the festival’s 18-year tradition of presenting beautiful music in the venues of Mornington Peninsula. “Across the hot springs, wine estates and church gardens of the gorgeous Mornington Peninsula, we’ve programmed diverse and delightful performances that will showcase an eclectic line up of musical genres featuring new and established Australian artists alongside international musical guests from the Netherlands, Sweden and the USA,” they said.

Following Melissa and Ben’s early morning performance of Sounds at Sunrise in the Peninsula Hot Springs, the New Year kicks off in earnest with the traditional Hair of the Dog in the gardens of St John’s Anglican Church in Flinders.

The evocative Tango Noir ensemble will celebrate new beginnings creating the atmospherics of a 1930s French salon with Ruth Roshan’s bittersweet lyrics blending beautifully with mandolin, accordion, and oboe for an afternoon of lush European tango and waltz.

Melbourne-born violinist Brigid Coleridge (USA) and renowned pianist Kristian Chong pair up for two stunning concerts at Moorooduc Estate on Tuesday 2 January performing Beethoven’s elusive Violin Sonata No.10 and JS Bach’s exciting sonata for violin and harpsichord. The program opens with Alma Mahler’s timeless and rich Laue Soommernacht (Mild Summer Night).

The 2024 Festival Artist, Australian-American harpist Emily Granger will feature in several events throughout the festival. Emily has performed around the world as Guest Principal Harp with the Chicago, Queensland, Sydney and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Orchestra Victoria, and Opera Australia Orchestra.

She’s given chamber recitals at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, Sydney Opera House Utzon Room, and UKARIA. Since moving from the United States in 2015, Emily has firmly established herself in the Australian music scene with a busy schedule as a solo, chamber, and orchestral musician.

On Wednesday 3 January Emily brings her magical harp to the free family-friendly performance of Cinderella! Featuring Emily and the Inventi Ensemble performing Sally Whitwell’s Cinderella Preludes and Prokofiev’s melodious ballet score, this fairy-tale performance at Balnarring Civic Reserve will be entertain and educate – an ideal morning for a family outing.

That evening Emily will perform at Main Ridge Estate with a program spanning the elegance of Bach to the baroque brilliance of Handel and the dreamy introspection of Satie. The unforgettable evening of timeless compositions culminates in Faure’s Impromptu Op. 86.

Throughout the Festival, Emily will join performances at Moorooduc Estate, Port Phillip Estate, Peninsula Hot Springs and at the Opera Gala on Saturday. Emily will also perform for private community events at local aged care centres and Willum Warrain Aboriginal Association.

The Peninsula Hot Springs will bubble with contemporary and classical music throughout the festival including performances from Amsterdam duo Zenith (Jorge Jiminez (violin) and Anna Stegmann (recorders), Swedish Trio Northern Resonance (Jerker Hans-Ers (violin), Anna Ekberg (viola d’more) and Petrus Dillner (nyckelharpa), and a collaboration of classical and First Nations group Burrundi Theatre and Inventi.

At Port Philip Estate on Thursday 4 January, Neal Peres da Costa (fortepiano) and Anna Fraser (soprano) reimagine Franz Schubert’s famous song cycle Schwanengesang (Swan Song). The recital pushes the boundaries of musical artistic practice, exploring how the song cycle may have sounded in the hands of Schubert and singers he knew and loved. This rare chance to hear the full song cycle by leading artists includes an exquisite pre-concert three course dinner and an exclusive preview performance by Festival Artist Emily Granger (harp).

The festival’s signature St John’s Weekend on 6 & 7 January features a daytime program of luscious romantic repertoire that showcases the next generation of performers. Exciting newcomers to Melbourne’s chamber music scene, Spell will perform two works from R. Schumann and Amy Beach with Lily Begg (piano), Lachlan MacLaren (violin), Emma Amery (violin), Patrick Shannon (Viola) and Sarah Wang (cello). The weekend will also feature new talent from the prestigious Great Romantics Competition at the Melbourne Recital Centre.

The much-loved Opera Gala returns to St John’s on Saturday evening with opera stars Lee Abrahmsen (soprano) and Adrian Tamburini (bass-baritone) joined by the Festival Orchestra. The gardens will be filled with aria favourites by Mozart, Donizetti and Verdi as well as some rarely heard treats by Bizet and more.

On Sunday evening at St John’s, acclaimed baroque harpist Hannah Lane will be joined by the stunning soprano Anna Fraser to explore the rich musical legacy of the great female singer/harpists of the Baroque period. Set against the stunning stained-glass windows of St Johns, Baroque by Candlelight features works from Luzzaschi, Caccini, Frescolbaldi and others.

Peninsula Summer Music Festival 2024 comes to a rousing climax at Montalto on Monday 8 January when Australian jazz royalty James Morrison gathers his quartet for an evening of swinging jazz standards, sublime ballads, and haunting Latin numbers with a few surprised thrown in. Twilight Jazz audiences can enjoy a relaxing meal on the lawns or a three-course restaurant experience prior to the show.

“Co-directors oboist Ben Opie and flautist Melissa Doecke have created a festival in which fine music making is married to inclusion, intimacy and informality.”  – The Age (2023)

The Peninsula Summer Music Festival runs 1 – 8 January 2024. For more information and full program, visit: for details.

Image: Melissa Doecke and Ben Opie at the Peninsula Hot Springs (supplied)