The Seventh Darwin International Guitar Festival 

Italian guitarist Carlo Barone with concert director, CDU's Adrian Walter

After 11 days of spectacular performances, Charles Darwin University (CDU) and Darwin bid farewell to the Seventh Darwin International Guitar Festival with an outdoor concert featuring the Darwin Symphony Orchestra, Australian Guitar Quartet Saffire and Uruguayan guitar virtuoso Eduardo Fernandez and Antony Field.

Artistic Director Adrian Walter recaps some of the highlights of the festival which continues to be recognised as one of Australia's most significant musical events.

The atmospheric venue under the tropical night sky of the CDU Strand was the perfect setting for the final event for what has turned out to be the most successful Festival yet.

The Festival commenced ten days earlier with a packed house at the Darwin Entertainment Centre, for a fiery performance by Spanish maestro Oscar Guzman and his Flamenco troupe. The tone of the Festival had been irrefutably set.

Diversity was a key attribute of the Festival with performances ranging from solo classical guitar to electric guitar and a unique production at the Town Hall Ruins in Darwin city centre with a poetic blending of music and light.

South American Panorama music featured strongly in this year’s Festival with performers from Colombia, Brazil and Uruguay. The concert by legendary Brazilian performer Carlos Barbosa-Lima was received with tumultuous applause from the audience eliciting a number of rhythmically charged encores before the performer was allowed to retire from the stage.

The perfect amalgam of musicianship and instrumental virtuosity characterised the first Australian performance by Eduardo Fernandez at CDU on July 12. Fernandez traversed the difficulties of the demanding program, which featured two complete suites by JS Bach, with seeming ease. The audience was taken on a musical journey combining moments of deep musical insight with those of intense passion.

Chamber music played a significant role in the Festival with performances by Italian’s Carlo Barone, Nuccio D’Angelo, Dutch recorder guitar duo Erik Bosgraaf and Izhar Elias and German flute and guitar duo Thea Nielsen and Oliver Fartach-Naini.

The Young Australia series continued this Festival with a number of outstanding performances. The particular highlights were a concert by the Melbourne Guitar Quartet, the Brew Duo from ANU and Yale Masters’ student Simon Powis who presented a virtuosic solo recital.

Masterclasses and workshops provided registrants with a unique opportunity to work closely with Festival artists and to benefit from the depth of experience they have as leading performers and teachers.

It was wonderful to see a number of CDU graduates performing on stage during the Festival. Four graduates of CDU programs for example, joined leading Italian performer and composer Nuccio D’Angelo in an evening of original compositions, challenging the young performers to achieve the highest professional standards. The result delighted the composer and audiences alike.

The Darwin Chorale also made an appearance in a concert at the Supreme Court featuring Ramirez’ Misa Criolla and the premiere of a new work Staccato Lightning by local composer Cathy Applegate. They joined Luminesca – Australian Cello and Guitar Duo – in a most enjoyable Sunday Serenade.

New works also appeared in a number of other programs during the Festival including the premiere of a new concerto for electric guitar and orchestra by Melbourne composer Mark Pollard. The work entitled Colouring in the Sky featured the Darwin Symphony Orchestra and electric guitar soloist Antony Field. This new work was enthusiastically received by the audience who appreciated the creative exploration of the new palette of sounds offered by the unique combination of electric guitar and orchestra.

An important goal of the Festival is to enrich the guitar repertoire with major new works and this was once again achieved – heard first by Top End audiences!

Festival Director, Adrian Walter commented, “The success of the Seventh Darwin International Guitar Festival paves the way for a Territory wide Eighth Festival in 2009 which will again offer audiences a unique musical experience that only can happen in the Territory.”

For a full wrap-up of the Seventh Darwin International Guitar Festival see special edition enews issue 16.