World first performances set for Australian Festival of Chamber Music next month

AFCM Shapes of ListeningAn immersive sunrise sound bath with Dancenorth Australia, a new sensorial video and sound installation by Melbourne/Naarm-based artist Sonia Leber and composer David Chesworth eavesdropping on Townsville-Gurambilbarra’s ecosystems, and a performance of original songs by three generations of the same Manbarra and Bwgcolman family from Palm Island in collaboration with Topology – these three unique experiences will be performed exclusively during the Australian Festival of Chamber Music next month and are world firsts.

Add to this award-winning author Mirandi Riwoe in conversation with Dr Emma Maguire, and the four are a result of the AFCM’s 2024 Partnership Projects, a captivating series of interdisciplinary events in collaboration with renowned regional cultural organisations: Dancenorth Australia, the Foundation for Australian Literary Studies, RASN North Queensland, Topology, PUNQ and Umbrella Studio Contemporary Arts.

This is the first time a collaborative series of this type has been undertaken by the AFCM with Executive Director Ricardo Peach saying it presents a very special opportunity for locals and visitors alike to engage with visionary artists to experience a heightened understanding of music and nature in fusion; with three of the four events totally free to attend!

“These unique offerings highlight the diversity and vibrancy of our region’s artistic talent, cultural heritage and First Nations custodians, and will foster a deeper appreciation for the arts through immersive experiences and thought-provoking installations and conversations,” said Ricardo.

“AFCM partnering with some of Australia’s key regional arts organisations allows locals and visitors to experience world class events right here on our doorstep.

“A highlight (of many) will be welcoming the performers from Palm-Island-Bwgcolman to AFCM, after an invitation from the island community last year made it possible for AFCM patrons to visit them for the first time in their beautiful part of the world,” said Ricardo.

Wariganda – Pallarenda Beach (access #8): 26 July – 11 August
Experience an immersive sonic journey with Still – a new work curated by Dancenorth’s Artistic Director Kyle Page. Housed within a stunning architecturally designed space by Liminal Spaces, you and 21 other guests will collectively witness the dawn of a new day while being cradled by the sounds of Canadian composer Jessica Moss (Thee Silver Mt. Zion, Black Ox Orkestar) and Sound Artist and Designer Byron J. Scullin.

Shapes of Listening
Dancenorth Australia Theatre: 26 July – 11 August
In collaboration with PUNQ Festival, Shapes of Listening is an innovative multichannel video and sound installation by Sonia Leber and David Chesworth. This immersive experience explores the act of listening in natural ecosystems, capturing unseen forces and non-human perspectives. Using hydrophones, microbat detectors and contact sensors, the project eavesdrops on Townsville-Gurambilbarra’s hidden forest and water ecologies.

Past, Present, Future: Writing Historical Fiction
Townsville Civic Theatre: Thursday 1 August
Join multi-award-winning, Brisbane-based author Mirandi Riwoe in conversation with Dr Emma Maguire as they delve into the art of writing historical fiction. From the Somerset Maugham-inspired Fish Girl to the richly historical Stone Sky Gold Mountain and the evocative Sunbirds, Riwoe shares insights into crafting compelling narratives that resonate with contemporary readers.

Three Generations, Three Songs
AFCM Festival Garden: Saturday 3 August
Three Generations, Three Songs brings to life the poignant stories and enduring spirit of the Manbarra and Bwgcolman peoples of Palm Island through original songs by three generations of the same family, celebrating their deep connection to their island home.

Since the first sunrise the Manbarra people have been caretakers of Yunbinan (Yoon-bi-nun) and for more than a century, the patchworked paradise of Palm Island has been stitched together by the 40+ tribes who live there, now known as the Bwgcolman. Audiences will be invited to cross the saline waters of Halifax Bay and discover these stories and the deep love of place that lives in the hearts of the Manbarra and Bwgcolman.

Together, Gail Mabo, Normey Jay and Nashaye share traditional stories and contemporary reflections through their own unique lenses, guided by Deline Briscoe.Gail, Normey and Nashaye have explored their own lived experience, consulted with their elders, and engaged with the Palm Island family to bring the Manbarra Bwgcolman stories to stage.

The performance will feature a collaboration between the Manbarra Bwgcolman Songwriters, Topology and AFCM musicians. This project is part of the Creative Heartlands Program, a strategic initiative of Topology | RASN North Queensland supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland.

The Australian Festival of Chamber Music runs from 26 July to 4 August and features more than 35 artists including 10 international artists, 20 Australian artists and 5 ensembles. Fourteen artists will make their AFCM debut and the program includes two world premieres and one Australian premiere.

It is one of the world’s leading international chamber music festivals and is committed to celebrating music and the arts, fostering cultural exchange, and enriching the community through diverse and dynamic artistic collaborations.

For more information about the Australian Festival of Chamber Music and the full program, visit: for details.

Image: Shapes of Listening – courtesy of Australian Festival of Chamber Music