Truth Be Told

AFCM Townsville
The Australian Festival of Chamber Music return to Townsville on 26 July - 4 August 2019 IMAGE: Supplied.

The Australian Festival of Chamber Music (AFCM) is a globally significant event that brings musicians and music lovers from across the world to Townsville each Winter.

With 30 musicians, 25 concerts and 5 special events scheduled over 10 days; there’s plenty to take in. Yet many Townsville locals don’t quite know what AFCM – or Chamber Music itself – is all about.

We caught up with AFCM’s Artistic Director Kathryn Stott to right a few misconceptions.

Chamber music is all 400 years old

Not true. Some of this music has stood for more than 700 years! Some of it is brand spankin’ new!

This year’s Australian Festival of Chamber Music will present four World Premiere compositions and four Australian premieres; so audiences have the privilege of being present as new history is made.

There’s also an entire concert devoted to warping time. Baroque Around the Clock will present new arrangements of some powerful pieces from the Baroque period (that’s Europe in the 17th and 18th Centuries).

Kathryn said: “It’s fascinating to see how other composers have taken inspiration from some of the greatest Baroque music and you get to hear such a huge range of styles in that concert.”

AFCM’s Artistic Director Kathryn Stott will share some of her favourite music during the Festival’s Magnetic Island Discs event.

Chamber music is only for dusty old fogies.

Not true. One of the most popular concerts on the AFCM program each year is the Families’ Concert at the Civic Theatre. This year, the concert will tell two classic children’s tales – Babar the Little Elephant and The Firebird – in a wonderful feat of musical storytelling that brings together the talents of local dancers from Ann Roberts School of Dance, animator Marc Roth, community artists, and actors Madonna Davies and Ron Pulman.

“I’m so much looking forward to this,” said Kathryn. “I’ve always loved the story of Babar and the music which goes with it is simply exquisite.

“The Firebird is all about a mythical creature and is a real fairytale complete with wizard, a prince and princess. We will tell the stories and hear fantastic piano music but in addition will be bringing in a whole range of local community artists to enhance the whole experience. If you love storytelling, moving images and magic, this is for you.”

There’s also a host of carefully curated concerts that are sure to excite and delight people well under the age of 100 and with $30 tickets if you’re under 30, why wouldn’t you give it a gander?

Chamber music requires you to sit and listen quietly.

You guessed it – not true!

While it is good etiquette to listen respectfully to the musicians while they play, the program is full of events that encourage conversation between the performers and the audience! They’re actually called Concert Conversations and they’re a great way to learn directly from the musicians about their artistic and professional development.

This year, the Festival also includes an event called Magnetic Island Discs, in which Kathryn will share some of her own favourite recordings with listeners over lunch at Peppers Blue on Blue.

What I tried to do with this event, is choose 6 recordings which have a particular significance in my life. It’s a chance to listen to my chosen tracks with a little background and some immediate response. Always lovely to do that as a group – we can even chat about it together!

The Australian Festival of Chamber Music returns to Townsville on 26 July – 4 August 2019. For more information visit

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