Peninsula Summer Music Festival celebrates a decade of world-class music

Peninsula Summer Music Festival Acacia QuartetThe 2017 Peninsula Summer Music Festival invites you to enjoy an abundance of exhilarating performances as Mornington Peninsula wineries, churches, lush lawns and intimate spaces come alive with superb instrumental beauty and splendid song for all ages.

Under the artistic direction of Julia Fredersdorff, the 10th Peninsula Summer Music Festival brings together Australian and international artists in 20 exquisite events across 14 glorious summer days. The diverse program ranges from the historically rich baroque music of 17th century England, France and Italy, intimate piano recitals and contemporary jazz, fiery gypsy melodies, to the intoxicating rhythms of South Africa and the transcendental beauty of a beloved pastoral opera.

Festival Artistic Director Julia Fredersdorff said it’s hard to believe that what started as a 3-day, 6-concert gathering of kindred spirits (both on stage and in the audience) has grown to play such a vital part in the cultural life of the Mornington Peninsula.

“This year we present a cornucopia of musical offerings, from the (unjustly) little-known Scottish Songs of Beethoven to the renegade stylings of the Australian Guitar Trio, via joyous South African jive, the pinnacle of Romantic piano repertoire, and a swinging homage to the heyday of swing, stride and boogie.”

“We welcome back some familiar faces, such as Sally-Anne Russell, Acacia Quartet and David Greco, and invite you to discover the rising talents of Kevin Suherman and Ensemble 642. I am especially proud of the 2017 Festival Academy, which will perform Handel’s beloved pastoral opera, Acis & Galatea, in a suitably ‘al fresco’ setting,” added Ms Fredersdorff.

Celebrating a decade of world-class music, combined with the delights of local wine and fine regional produce, the Festival opens on New Year’s Day with the signature Hair of the Dog concert by Klezmania at Lindenderry at Red Hill. Enticing, intoxicating and utterly engrossing, Klezmania, Australia’s leading klezmer ensemble, will welcome in the New Year with romantic ballads, whirling traditional dance tunes and foot-tapping jazzy songs from the diverse cultures of “Old World” Romania, the Balkans, Turkey and the Ukraine along with their own spirited and original music.

Ensemble 642 and soprano Karen Fitz-Gibbon explore the pleasures and pains of love through one of Italy’s lesser-known but most fascinating and prolific female composers in Cantate Amorosi. Sexy, smitten, bitter, cheeky, beautiful and passionate, the love songs of 17th century composer Barbara Strozzi speak to us across the centuries. This fascinating program contrasts Strozzi’s rarely-heard, virtuosic and innovative cantatas with popular dances of the Italian baroque, in the rustic surrounds of the barrel room at Hurley Vineyard on Monday 2 January.

Renegade Journey traces the guitar’s tour across music history, the Australian guitar trio draws inspiration from Celtic traditional tunes to Piazzolla and Bach via Percy Grainger and The Beatles with every imaginable influence in between. Join this outstanding Tasmanian-based trio in the intimate space of Main Ridge Estate’s cellar door on Tuesday 3 January as they masterfully blend sparkling effervescent textures and contemporary influences with classical foundations to create a sonic identity that is as captivating as it is unique.

Acacia Quartet pays homage to one of classical music’s most influential patrons in The Noble Patron at Lindenderry at Red Hill on Wednesday 4 January. As a patron of both Haydn and Beethoven, Prince Joseph Lobkowitz played a pivotal role in the creation of two of the finest works in the string quartet canon, String Quartet No.1 in G Major, Op.77 “Lobkowitz” and Beethoven’s String Quartet No.10 in E flat Major Op. 74 “Harp”.

The landmark architecture and sweeping coastal views of Port Phillip Estate’s cellar door are the perfect setting for the mesmerising string quartets of minimalism pioneer Philip Glass. Renowned for their inventive programming and engaging performance style, Sydney’s ARIA Award-nominated Acacia Quartet will perform Glass at Port Phillip on Thursday 5 January. It is the Australian premiere of Glass’s String Quartet No.7, written for the Nederland Dans Theatre, alongside works by Gershwin and emerging Australian composer Nick Wales.

Full of subtle harmonies and rich textures, Beethoven’s remarkable settings of traditional Celtic folk songs masterfully capture the essence of the original while making them inimitably his own. Discover these still too little-known gems in a fittingly intimate performance Beethoven Scottish Songs at Elgee Park Winery on Friday 6 January by English-born Sophie Daneman. An accomplished recitalist, Sophie has appeared at many of the world’s major venues including the Wigmore Hall and Carnegie Hall. The Festival is thrilled to be hosting Sophie as Stage Director and Vocal Coach for the 2017 Academy.

Bakery Singer/pianist B.T. Baldwin makes a welcome return to the Festival after two sold-out Hair of the Dog performances in 2014. On Friday 6 January in Swing, Stride and Boogie at the Bakery he presents his sophisticated stylings and elegant improvisations to the popular Tin Pan Alley tunes of the 1920s and ‘30s, paying homage to early swing pioneers Teddy Wilson, and the hugely influential Earl Hines at the Red Hill Baker, Balnarring.

Pianist Kevin Suherman has already made a name for himself as a fresh interpreter of the Romantic period’s most exhilarating and demanding solo piano repertoire. At just 21 years, he won the 2016 Melbourne Recital Centre Great Romantics Competition – the latest in a string of high-profile placings in competitions across Germany, Italy and Australia. For his Festival debut he performs Great Romantics, a selection of virtuosic works by Chopin, Liszt and Mendelssohn, including Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 and Chopin’s Andante Spianato & Grande Polonaise Brillante Op.22 in the Church of St John the Evangelist on Saturday 7 January.

Internationally-renowned Australian-born baritone, David Greco, has been based in the Netherlands and Germany for the last eight years. Last year he made his debut at the Royal Amsterdam Concertgebouw and will present A Schubertian Delight on Saturday 7 January, with Erin Helyard on Pianoforte. In the Church of St John the Evangelist, David and Erin will truly evoke the sounds and spirit of 19th-century Vienna as they present Der Tod und das Mädchen, Im Frühling and Der Wanderer, performed using a rare replica Graf pianoforte (a predecessor of the modern-day grand piano).

Experience baroque opera’s most exquisite masterpieces under the summer evening sky on Saturday 7 January as the Baroque Opera Gala is performed on the lawn of St John the Evangelist in Flinders. Superb mezzo-soprano Sally-Anne Russell and outstanding baritone David Greco take to the stage with an ensemble of Australia’s finest early music specialists. Revel in works by Purcell, Handel, Monteverdi and Vivaldi, including Dido’s Lament, Lascia la spina, and extracts from L’Orfeo and The Faerie Queene.

Two of Australia’s finest chamber musicians – violinist Lisa Stewart and pianist Stefan Cassomenos – unite for the first time in a festival-exclusive collaboration Duo Français on Sunday 8 January in the Church of St John the Evangelist. Their sublime program features three of the finest works of early 20th century France: Ravel’s Violin Sonata No.2 in G Major, boldly infused with jazz and blues, Debussy’s Violin Sonata in G Minor, the last major composition of his life, and Messiaen’s Theme and Variations, written as a wedding present to his wife and described by him as “one of my best”.

Take your seat for an unforgettably atmospheric candlelit performance capturing the splendour of the German Baroque and showcasing the St John the Evangelist Church’s magnificent organ, as baritone David Greco performs alongside the leading exponents of this genre in Australasia, the ARIA-nominated baroque ensemble Latitude 37, in De Profundis. On Sunday 8 January the program of sacred and secular music from 17th and 18th century Germany includes Bruhn’s profoundly moving De profundis, Biber’s virtuosic Nisi Dominus aedificaverit domum and works by Buxtehude, Muffat and Tunder.

Be swept away by the infectious grooves and irresistible rhythms of South Africa on Sunday 8 January as Valanga Khoza and his band create an exhilarating performance experience South African Jive. Charming his audiences with humour and wit, singer, songwriter and storyteller Valanga Khoza leads an ensemble on the lawn of St John the Evangelist featuring traditional instruments such as the kalimba, marimba and shijoro (jaw harp), interwoven with guitar, percussion and Valanga’s velvety voice.

Take your place on the lawns at Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove on Monday 9 January for an evening of Twilight Jazz: From Broadway to Paris featuring 1920s and ‘30s dance hits and show tunes. Featuring velvet-voiced singer/pianist B.T. Baldwin and George Washingmachine (violin), whose seemingly limitless bag of tricks includes some of the hottest fiddling around, this red-hot lineup also includes Leigh Barker (bass) and Lynn Wallis (drums).

Featured in Limelight Magazine’s 30 Brilliant Musicians Under 30, Vietnamese-born Australian pianist Hoang Pham is one of our country’s finest concert pianists. On Wednesday 11 January at Moorooduc Estate he joins forces with the equally accomplished violinist Katherine Lukey (AOBO, Melbourne Chamber Orchestra) and Romanian-American cellist Paul Ghica (Patronus Quartet). Together they perform Schubert’s timeless Notturno in E flat Major and Dvorák’s Piano Trio No.3 in F minor Op.65 – both genre-shaping pinnacles of romantic expressionism.

Treasures of the High Baroque presents Telemann, JS Bach and Handel in the stunning surrounds of Morning Star Estate on Thursday 12 January – an unmissable performance featuring three of the world’s leading baroque performers. Danish harpsichordist, Lars Ulrik Mortenson, is Artistic Director of Concerto Copenhagen and works extensively as a soloist and chamber musician around the world. Australia’s Genevieve Lacey is a recorder virtuoso lauded for her extraordinary musicianship; and Australian-born, Denmark-based, Jane Gower is principal bassoonist with Concerto Copenhagen and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

Handel’s pastoral opera is a tale of tragedy, eternal love and liberation, telling the story of the mortal Acis, the goddess Galatea and their love doomed by the cyclops Polyphemus. Based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses, it was the first full-scale work that Handel set to an English language text. This semi-staged performance features internationally renowned English soprano Sophie Daneman as Galatea, alongside a cast, chorus and orchestra brought together under the banner of the 4th Festival Academy.

Based on the model of the great European Summer Schools, the Festival Academy sees talented young singers and instrumentalists work alongside leading international and Australian Baroque practitioners in rehearsing and performing Acis and Galatea as part of the Festival on Friday 13 January and Saturday 14 January on the Lawn of St John the Evangelist in Flinders.

To conclude the 10th Festival, ABC Classic FM’s Christopher Lawrence presents a family-friendly version of Handel’s Acis and Galatea, performed on the lawn of St John the Evangelist. Children are encouraged to discover the sights and sounds of the Baroque chamber orchestra, including rare instruments such as the theorbo and harpsichord, as well as violins, cellos, oboes and bassoons. Everyone is invited to have a closer look at the instruments and meet the musicians at the end of the performance.

The 10th Peninsula Summer Music Festival runs 1 – 14 January 2017. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Acacia Quartet (supplied)