It is a testament to the community spirit and depth of culture in a city like Ballarat that it can so successfully run a festival like Organs of the Ballarat Goldfields. Whether it is looked upon as another great drawcard during January with all its attendant economic benefit or a flowering of musical appreciation in the city; it is hard to argue with its success.
What is perhaps less known, is the festival is run on the passion and drive of the organisers and all its volunteers. The calibre of the artists who year after year come to Ballarat and outlying towns to perform is a mark of that behind the scenes force.
The festival also reflects well on power of cooperation and collaboration, from the returning musicophiles, the loyal sponsors and the generosity of the many churches and other venues which host the concerts.
Consider for instance how these partnerships unfold when no less a pianist than Stefan Cassomenos comes to town. After a gala opening concert at the cathedral, he is able to perform with distinguished violinist Monica Curro at Ballarat Grammar’s invitation at the Wendouree Performing Arts Centre’s on their magnificent Steinway. While we would normally leave the appraisal of the event to the superior knowledge and experience of our music writer Bronislaw Sozanski it would be remiss not to mention just what a special gift this is to Ballarat.
It may have been a rainy and chilly Saturday afternoon but within that almost intimate confine, so well suited to chamber music, the duo brought a lilting sunniness and evocative delicacy to Beethoven and Brahms. This is music making that transcends entertainment, indeed could rightly be called a privilege for all those who hear.
And this delightful outing is only one of the concerts packing two weeks of musical highlights. There really is something for everyone with a pair of open ears.
While the image of the festival may seem esoteric, it is worth reiterating that the festival is about a lot more than organs or ancient music. Indeed the diversity of the program, its venues and class of its musicians is the quiet triumph that has taken place in Ballarat every January for almost quarter of a century.
Our recommendation even if classical music is not your ‘thing’, for the sheer surprise and the delight the festival can deliver, is to dare giving it a try.
You may be surprised by what magic is unfurling in our midst.