Huntington Estate Music Festival in the news 1

Heavenly start to Huntington Festival
BY ANIKA HUME, Mudgee Guardian
25 November 2011

The heavens may have opened just in time for it, but Huntington Estate Music Festival patrons showed it would take more than a spot of rain to keep them at bay as they flooded the vineyard for the start of the event on Wednesday night.

Not even forecasts of torrential downpours could stop more than 700 visitors and locals from experiencing the 22nd year of the festival, regarded as one of Australia’s premier chamber music events.

Festival organiser Nicky Stevens said the festival had so far been a case of triumph over adversity.

“We’ve set up three marquees, constructed two steel shelters, erected covered walkways, put up tarpaulins and completely decorated the packing hall, so we’re pulling out all the stops to keep the magic of the festival alive,” she said.

“It’s been a huge amount of work, but we’ve done it.”

More than 30 world-class instrumentalists and vocalists will perform over the five-day concert series, including charismatic baritone Thomas Meglioranza from New York, the young French Modigliani String Quartet and British cellist Guy Johnston who flew to the country especially for the festival.

Adelaide Chamber Singers

As well as some old favourites, this year’s program includes a host of new and unusual acts, like the Adelaide Chamber Singers – the first choir on the festival bill in many years – and solo harpist Alice Giles, who recently caused a buzz by performing in Antarctica.

Long-time patron Dorothy Munns said it was this edgy, fresh face to the festival that she believed made it better than ever.

“Adding in all of these new instruments, composers and acts I’ve never heard of before has given me more of an insight into the type of music that’s available out there and it’s steering me away from being as narrow-minded as I have been in the past,” she said.

“Some people have been quite pleasantly surprised by the program, which I think is good, because it is helping to educate the festival’s demographic who are mostly hesitant to explore or embrace different things.”

As for the rain, Mrs Munns said she was yet to speak with anyone who believed it was dampening their festival spirits.

“On one of their notes the organisers sent out, they said to come prepared for Mudgee’s extreme weather, and people have, so they don’t regard it as a problem at all,” she said.

Mrs Munns also credited the “superb” festival organisation and the “succinct and extensive” program notes.

“They are really helping me to understand and, as a result, enjoy this new, world-class music,” she said.

“In fact, the standard of everything this year is simply fantastic.”

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