Huntington Estate Music Festival in the news 2

Hundreds attend Huntington festival
BY ANIKA HUME, Mudgee Guardian
28 November 2011

The Huntington Estate Music Festival continues to attract music lovers in its 22nd year.

Guy Johnston & Andrew Meisel

Nearly 800 patrons attended the five-day festival last week to see world-renowned performers such as Guy Johnston (cello) and Andrew Meisel (double bass), finishing their unusual duo with a flourish. For those unable to attend the sold-out event, concerts were broadcast live on ABC Classic FM.

After five days of food, wine and some of the world’s best chamber music acts, the 22nd Huntington Estate Music Festival drew to a close on Sunday with a burst of sunshine and more than 800 happy patrons.

Despite a drizzly start to the event last Wednesday, the final three concerts were performed under clear skies, lightening the mood of organisers, performers and patrons, many of who had travelled considerable distances to attend the festival.

“We had concert goers from as far as Queensland, Tasmania and Perth, which has made for our broadest audience base ever so it’s wonderful that Mudgee’s weather cleared in time for them,” said festival organiser Nicky Stevens.

This year’s concert series attracted 150 new patrons, which Mrs Stevens said assured the future of the festival for years to come.

“We’ve put those numbers down to a combination of a super year last year and the generosity of our wonderfully appreciative patrons who have brought their friends and family along to share the experience,” she said.

“We’ve had nothing but positive feedback from both old and new patrons, so we’re absolutely delighted.”

Mudgee’s Louise Manwaring, who experienced her seventh HEMF on the weekend, said the concert series would continue to be one event she refused to miss.

“The chance to see such fine musicians in an extraordinary environment is something you usually expect to have to travel to the capital cities to have the opportunity to be a part of,” she said.

Ms Manwaring particularly enjoyed the ensembles created specifically for the festival, saying the chance to see “the electricity” that flowed between different international and Australian acts when they performed together was a special one.

Australian String Quartet

The new, edgier program full of young and interesting performers and instruments was another hot topic of discussion among patrons, many expressing their pleasant surprise with what they heard and saw.

“I’m more inclined towards classical chamber music, but one of the reasons we come here is to be challenged, and this program has helped give me a broader idea of musical possibilities,” Ms Manwaring said.

First violin for the French Modigliani String Quartet, Philippe Bernhard, agreed, describing the program as “an eclectic mix”.

“It’s quite ambitious of them to try out such a program at a festival like this, but the audience all seemed to love it,” he said.

Fellow Mudgee local Dorothy Munns said she hoped to incorporate some of the music styles she heard for the first time during the festival into her U3A music program.

She also suggested sponsorship from mining companies, banks or the government to ensure the festival’s continuation for years to come.

“Seeing some of the institutions they’re willing to give to, why not this one?” she said.

“It’s far more than a winery, for heavens sake.”

With tarpaulins and marquees still yet to come down, Mrs Stevens said she was already planning the next festival.

“Roll on next year.”

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