Huntington Estate Music Festival – Day 1
It’s been a busy and exciting lead-up to this year’s Huntington Estate Music Festival, presented by Huntington Estate and Musica Viva. Musicians have been arriving in Mudgee since Sunday, and the rain has only intensified. Curiously, the strains of Bruch, Ravel and Schoenberg floating through Mudgee had to compete with those of “Fruit Salad” and “Big Red Car” as the Wiggles descended on the town as part of their 20th anniversary tour. But with the departure of Dorothy the Dinosaur and her skivy-wearing colleagues the town has resumed preparations for the “other” musical event this week.
Rehearsals have unearthed not only some new artistic collaborations but also curious stories and coincidences. Cellist Guy Johnston discovered that when he toured Australia 20 years ago with the Choir of Kings College, Cambridge, Alice Giles played the harp accompaniment in their performance of Britten’s Ceremony of Carols. American baritone Thomas Meglioranza’s mother was thrilled that her son was invited to perform at Huntington as she had by chance booked a bird-watching tour in regional Australia in the weeks immediately beforehand and was able to extend her trip to take in Thomas’s performances.For some musicians Mudgee has wielded interesting cultural experiences. The Modigliani String Quartet was bemused by the pub which offers the option of cooking one’s own steak. Thomas Meglioranza confused a local waitress by asking for ketchup rather than tomato sauce.
Aside from the rain it’s shaping up to be a superb Festival. Tonight’s opening concert features works by Monteverdi, Eberhard, Barber, Schoenberg, Eisler and Mendelssohn, performed variously by the Adelaide Chamber Singers, Alice Giles, Guy Johnston, Kristian Chong, Thomas Meglioranza, Bernadette Harvey and the Modigliani String Quartet. Despite being a little muddy, the winery grounds look very glamorous with marquees and lighting going up all over the place. With only a few hours left to finalise preparations and hone performances the excitement is palpable. If you’re not fortunate enough to be here yourself, you can listen to two live broadcasts from the Festival on Thursday and Saturday nights.