23 March 2021

Compassion on display at this year's Four Winds Festival

| Lottie Twyford
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Crowd watching performance at Four Winds Festival.

The 2021 Four Winds Festival will bring live music, dance, Indigenous culture, theatre and film to its stunning outdoor venue. Photo: Robert Tacheci.

Set deep in the bush near the NSW South Coast village of Bermagui, the 2021 Four Winds Festival will be a three-day event of extraordinary live music, dance, Indigenous culture, theatre and film presented at its stunning outdoor venue, the Sound Shell.

Now in its 21st year, the festival continues to expand and attract international musicians, classical and avant-garde composers and performers.

Organisers say the 2021 Four Winds Festival will be a celebration of all things classical, coastal and natural with particular emphasis on the deepening relationship of the festival with the Yuin Nation’s local Indigenous people.

A collaboration between two treasured Australian artists – the celebrated composer of films and symphonies, Nigel Westlake, and acclaimed luminous-voiced performer Lior – will be among the highlights of this year’s festival running during the Easter weekend of 2-4 April.

Compassion is the duo’s award-winning song cycle based on universal wisdom gleaned from ancient Hebrew and Arabic texts, and presents a collection of profound insights from two of the world’s oldest religions into how compassion transforms us as humans.

Singer-songwriter Lior.

Israeli-Australian singer-songwriter Lior (pictured) and Nigel Westlake will be performing Compassion at this year’s Four Winds Festival. Photo: Supplied.

Israeli-Australian singer-songwriter Lior rose to fame with his 2005 debut album, Autumn Flow, which remains one of the most successful debuts in Australian music history.

It was at a concert in memory of his son, who had passed away a year prior, that composer Nigel Westlake first heard Lior sing.

Nigel says he found himself inspired by the singer’s passion.

At the time, the composer he was in what he described as “a creative wasteland where all reason had been lost”.

“It was a profound journey to find my way back into both music and creativity, and Compassion was most definitely the catalyst to that journey,” he says.

Lior sings in both Arabic and Hebrew and according to Nigel, he is one of the only singers who has the vocal and linguistic ability to do the song cycle justice.

Nigel tells Region Media he is generally very critical and emotionally detached when hearing his own work, but the one time he was lucky enough to sit in the audience, he found the drama and intensity of Lior’s performance to be deeply moving.

“He sings with his entire heart and soul,” he says.

Lior and Nigel Westlake performing.

Lior (left) and Nigel Westlake (right) performing Compassion. Photo: Ken Butti.

“Whether or not people understand the literal meanings of the words is beside the point, as the true value of the song cycle is unmistakable,” says Nigel.

“It’s fitting to remember that compassion and empathy are two of the values that define the human condition, no matter our race or origin, that distinguish us from other animals.”

The orchestra for Compassion will be composed of the best of the best when it comes to Australian musicians as all of the members are performers at the Four Winds Festival.

The festival opens with a free day on Friday, 2 April, that includes film screenings, performances by Candelo musicians and Yuin performers, and live theatre featuring Homer’s Iliad (Out Loud) – Part 1.

Chloe Leong performing for Sydney Dance Company.

Joining the impressive line-up of performers at the Four Winds Festival is the Sydney Dance Company with Cinco, featuring Chloe Leong (pictured). Photo: Wendell Teodoro.

Audiences will be able to sit back and reflect among Barragga Bay’s gum trees as singers, dancers and actors take to the natural ‘Sound Shell’ amphitheatre and enjoy local oysters, fine wine, and a range of produce and delicious food in a beautiful environment.

As a small arts organisation, Four Winds occupies a unique place in Australia’s cultural landscape. It has an impressive history of delivering high-quality musical experiences in one of the most unique coastal communities in Australia.

Four Winds started in 1991 as a passion-project of Neilma Gantner of the famously philanthropic Myer family of Melbourne.

Ms Gantner loved Bermagui, which she called home for many years. In the late 1980s, she gathered friends and neighbours to discuss the idea of live music performance for the local community.

Some people in the group which formed around Ms Gantner and her aspirations are still involved in the strength and growth of Four Winds today.

Tickets for the Four Winds Festival on 2-4 April, 2021, are on sale now. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit Four Winds Festival.

Due to COVID-19 safety requirements, all events require pre-booking, even if entry is free.

Original Article published by Lottie Twyford on The RiotACT.

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