Arts & Culture

Four Winds – doing what the Opera House can’t this weekend

Ian Campbell 16 April 2019
The iconic Four Winds Sound Shell in full flight at the 2018 Easter Festival. Photo: Four Winds website.

The iconic Four Winds Sound Shell in full flight at the 2018 Easter Festival. Photo: Four Winds.

Easter on the Far South Coast has a sound. It’s not just the cranking of the Batemans Bay Bridge going up and down, the Bell Miner birds of Tathra or the shouts of a fisherman reeling one in at Snug Cove, its the sound of world-class musicians gathered in the bush at Bermagui.

Four Winds takes flight on Good Friday, the first step in the events new annual tradition.

Artists have been arriving since Monday and have been busy with rehearsals while trying to get a sliver of the good life offered by the Sapphire Coast.

Well known Bega Valley choirmaster, music teacher, and terrific fella, Geoffrey Badger has been part of the audience and on stage at Four Winds for over 15 years.

“It’s become an artistic hub, I am really grateful for what Four Winds has brought to the area, it’s hard to quantify because it has an enormous ripple effect – but so many precious moments between local musicians and students and the world’s best,” he says.

“That is hard to do in a place like the Sydney Opera House, but here that exchange with community happens easily and is part of the festival’s strength.”

Geoffrey says at a time when funding for arts and music education has been rolled back, Four Winds have stepped up in Bega Valley and Eurobodalla schools to more than fill the gap; empowered by the funds and atmosphere generated by the Easter festival.

For those who have never been to Four Winds or who are perhaps nervous about attending a “classical music festival,” Geoffrey says, “There is such a variety of artists, all sorts of things that wouldn’t normally be considered classical music.”

“Don’t make too many assumptions about what classical music is.”

Moving from a history of being a biennial event, the program extends beyond the grassy seats of the spectacular Sound Shell, also known as ‘Nature’s Concert Hall’ at Barragga Bay, to this year involve the whole landscape.

There are three exceptional concerts inside the first class Windsong Pavilion at Four Winds…

On Friday (April 19) evening after a free community concert in town, you can experience a piano recital by visiting, international pianist Stefan Vladar who will play music by Haydn, Beethoven, and Schubert.

The Pavilion is also playing host to the Australian String Quartet who will perform Schubert’s ‘Death and the Maiden’ on Saturday (April 20) evening in a double-bill with Arcadia Winds and celebrated Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin.

The world class Windsong Pavilion. Photo: Four Winds.

The world-class Windsong Pavilion. Photo: Four Winds.

Then on Sunday (April 21) morning British soprano Dame Emma Kirkby and Swedish Lutenist Jakob Lindberg will delight with a recital of Early Music songs.

Emma and Jakob are also performing in two house concerts on Thursday (April 18) and will be collaborating with Four Winds Artistic Director James Crabb.

“If you love those ‘I was there’ moments this will be one of them,” says Four Winds Executive Director, David Francis.

“This collaboration is unique to Four Winds and brings together three international artists whose musical interests span centuries.”

House concert three and four features the Australian String Quartet playing music by Brahms. The hosts are fortunate to have a beautiful old church as part of their property, “so where better to hear this leading Australian string quartet playing the music they love,” David says.

Geoffrey Badger with students of Bermagui Public School. Photo: Chris Sheedy.

Geoffrey Badger with students of Bermagui Public School as part of a Four Winds choir workshop Photo: Chris Sheedy.

On Saturday and Sunday night Bermagui Surf Club transforms into a concert hall.

Saturday will showcase a world-music collaboration featuring Sarangan on Sitar, Bobby Singh on Tabla and the Compass Quartet with James Crabb.

Then on Sunday night, it’s your chance to join in! Bring your instrument and take part in a folk session with festival musicians following Malumba’s first half set – all comers are welcome of any standard.

Don’t eat before you come because both performances will feature food (from 7 pm on Saturday and from 6 pm on Sunday) created by the fabulous Eastwood’s Deli and Cooking School and there will be a bar available all evening,

“Come settle in and enjoy some great food and music,” David says.

The Australian String Quartet will perform Schubert's ‘Death and the Maiden’. Photo: Jacqui Way Lwres.

The Australian String Quartet will perform Schubert’s ‘Death and the Maiden’. Photo: Jacqui Way Lwres.

You want more? The is loads more…

Free Community Concert, Good Friday, 5 pm

Come and see ‘Lady Jane’ at Dickinson Oval on Good Friday at 5 pm.

Lady Jane is a disused Bermagui fishing boat saved from the Bermagui Industrial Estate to become the inspiration of this years community concert.

Four Winds has teamed up with the Bermagui Historical Society and together they have collected local stories, artifacts and photos of the town’s heritage spanning from the 1940’s to the present day. The Historical Society have also been researching Lady Jane to find out as much as they can about the life of this beautiful Bermagui fishing boat.

All the stories, anecdotes, and artifacts collected feed into the story and live performance, which will roll out on Friday night before a happy crowd.

Bring the family, bring a picnic and enjoy!

$10 Youth Concert, Good Friday, 10.30 am, Bermagui Community Centre

Featuring, Elena Kats-Chernin (composer), Christina Leonard (composer/saxophone), James Crabb (classical accordion), Alex Henery (double bass), and Emma Gilmartin (presenter/singer).

Mulga Bill’s Bicycle is a new work composed by Elena Kats-Chernin and Christina Leonard during a Four Winds Artists’ Residency in January 2019.

It is a vibrant, madcap musical reinterpretation of the children’s classic, based on Banjo Patterson’s legendary poem.

Take a ride with Mulga Bill from Eagle Hawke for some crazy, fun and kookie tunes as well as lots of audience interaction!

This concert is aimed at primary aged children and anyone connected with their inner child!

For the full program and ticket sales click HERE, for festival info and survival tips including the free shuttle bus service, food, seating, and access, click HERE.

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