Tuesday, April 6, 2010
I've been to Bermagui over Easter for the Four Winds Festival, which is one of Australia's best-kept secrets. Actually, it's no longer such a well-kept secret as more and more people attend each festival that's held.
It's an outdoor music festival, held in a beautiful natural amphitheatre surrounded by tall trees.
There's a simple, shaded stage (with superb sound equipment)
and behind the stage a small lake with waterlilies and innumerable frogs. One of the pleasures of listening to the music is to hear it accompanied by frogs and birdsong!
The festival's held every second year, and is made up mainly of classical music, with lots of new music and interesting combinations of musicians and instruments. Among the delights we had this year were Gregorian chants, Elizabethan and traditional English folksongs accompanied by a harp, superb classical guitarist Karin Schaupp playing some of the wonderful Spanish guitar classics with the Flinders Quartet, internationally acclaimed viola da gamba player Paolo Pandolfo, and the emotionally charged 'Women of Dirtsong' from the Black Arm Band.
As well as having two full days of music for the Festival itself there's always an entertainment on Friday night - this year an enthralling flamenco performance from the Spanish-Melbournian group Arte Kanela Flamenco. And an innovation for this festival was a free performance on Friday by and for the local community. It featured many of the festival artists as well as local people in a loosely woven 'identity piece' for Bermagui - I particularly loved the puppetry using evocative ruined boats.
I always come away from Four Winds delighted, enlightened, musically challenged - greatly enriched. This is my fifth festival, and I hope to have many more.
Bermagui is one of the idyllic coastal towns in southern New South Wales. It served as a port for the area before roads were built along the south coast, and from the mid 1800s became important for its fishing. There's still a fishing port today,
the dairy farms that have long been a part of the area,
and pristine beaches framed by still forested ranges of hills.