Famed musicologist and mental health advocate Stephen Johnson leads international contingent headed to Townsville next month – Australian Festival of Chamber Music

Australian Festival of Chamber Music

Famed international musicologist Stephen Johnson author of “How Shostakovich Changed My Mind” and music for mental health advocate leads a trio of commentators including acclaimed UK narrator and playwright Peter Thompson and presenter, clinician and musicologist Katherine Butler.

Of the 11, it’s the first time to the AFCM for Timothy Ridout, Matthew Hunt, Katy Woolley, Thomas Carroll, and Katherine Butler, and the first time to Australia for Stephen Johnson, Sally Beamish and Peter Thompson.

The AFCM promises to be a joyous 10-day celebration in the glorious winter sun of North Queensland in Townsville- Gurambilbarra. What’s more, guests can expect a deeper dive into the science and exploration of music this year through the AFCM Illuminates series of lectures and events.

Artistic Director, the internationally acclaimed violinist Jack Liebeck and fellow Brit said, “after talking to audiences last year, it made me realise that our audience doesn’t just want to experience music in a passive way, they want to understand it on a deeper level. With that in mind we will welcome brilliant British musicologist, composer, and presenter Stephen Johnson to Townsville this year.”

Stephen will discuss his famed book “How Shostakovich Changed My Mind”, the primary focus of which is Dmitri Shostakovich’s music and how it relates to his own struggles with trauma and mental illness, as well as his life as a composer, author and broadcaster. In addition, Stephen’s Angel’s Arc is being performed in an Australian premiere, with fellow British composer Sally Beamish playing viola. See the four events Stephen Johnson is involved in here

“Building on the AFCM Illuminates lectures introduced in 2022, Stephen will guide us through the music of Messiaen, the life of a composer in discussion with our composer-in-residence Sally Beamish, and the power of the critics in the life of a piece of music,” Jack continued.

The 2023 AFCM features a stunning program of 34 concerts and special events, including five world premieres. See the full program here

Sally Beamish – Composer-in-residence

Sally Beamish was initially a viola player but in 1990 she moved to Scotland and concentrated on composition. Now she is famous and admired. While influenced by jazz to traditional music, she is always informed by the western canon. Sally continues to play her instrument (one made for her by her daughter) and has played with both the Chilingirian and Elias Quartets. She and Peter Thomson are married. See Sally’s events here

Timothy Ridout

Timothy Ridout, a BBC New Generation Artist, is one of the most sought-after violists of his generation. This season he appears as soloist with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, hr-Sinfonieorchester and the Odense Symphony Orchestra amongst others. Born in London in 1995, Ridout studied at the Royal Academy of Music, graduating with the Queen’s Commendation for Excellence. See Timothy’s events here

Matthew Hunt

‘The clarinettist played so beautifully it was as though he wished to make the very air melt.” Tokyo Times

One of Europe’s leading clarinettists, Matthew Hunt is a distinctive musician, renowned for the vocal quality of his playing and his ability to communicate with audiences. He is currently the Solo Clarinettist of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, a member of the British wind ensemble ‘Orsino’, and is Professor of Chamber Music at Folkwang University in Essen. See Matthew’s events here

Katy Woolley

Katy Woolley was appointed principal horn of the Philharmonia Orchestra aged 22! She’s a graduate of the Royal College of Music in London and furthered her studies with Christian Friedrich Dallmann at the Universität der Künste in Berlin. She holds the International Visiting Professor of Horn position at the Royal Academy of Music in London and is principal horn of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam. See Katy’s events here

Stephen Johnson

Writer, composer, broadcaster and translator Stephen Johnson is the author of books on Beethoven, Bruckner, Wagner and Mahler. For 14 years he presented BBC Radio 3’s Discovering Music. His orchestral work Behemoth Dances was premiered in 2016 by the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra, his Clarinet Quintet Angel’s Arc had its first performance in January 2019 and his String Quartet was premiered by the Brodsky Quartet in November 2021. Stephen’s award-winning book about music and mental health, How Shostakovich Changed My Mind (Notting Hill), was published in May 2018. See Stephen’s events here

Peter Thomson

Peter began his career as an actor and singer, and is now primarily a playwright – with over 45 radio and stage plays produced in the UK and abroad. He has also written stories and plays for children, and a book about a return to his hometown in Iran. Collaborations with his wife, composer Sally Beamish, include the text for A Knock on the Door, commissioned by Q-CAT to raise awareness of the use of torture. This was premiered by Ex Cathedra in Birmingham in November ’22. During the lockdown, he and Sally (viola) formed the York Road Band with guitarist Arthur Dick, giving street performances of popular songs. See Peter’s events here

Katherine Butler

Katherine Butler is a Clinical Specialist in Hand Therapy with over 25 years of experience and is also a trained flautist and therefore has a practitioner’s understanding of the particular challenges musicians face. Her passion is helping people with a variety of shoulder, arm, wrist, and hand conditions by using evidence-based treatment techniques. As part of the Illuminates program this year, she will outline some of the experiences and learnings she has been privileged to be part of. See Katherine’s events here

Thomas Carroll

​Described by The Strad as a player of ‘authority and passion, with an unerring sense of direction, full of colour and underpinned by a clear musical intelligence’, Welsh cellist Thomas Carroll launched his career when he won both Young Concert Artists Trust, London and New York. He has given critically acclaimed debut recitals at many venues and festivals across Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and America. Since April 2012, Thomas has been Artistic Director of the Orpheus Sinfonia. See Thomas’ events here

Charles Owen

Professor of Piano at the Guildhall School, Co-Artistic Director of London Piano Festival and Steinway and Sons UK Ambassador, Charles appears in recital at the most famous halls in the world and with the best orchestras, and he’s enjoyed an extensive international career performing wide-ranging repertoire to outstanding critical acclaim.

Katya Apekisheva

Born in Moscow, into a family of musicians, Katya completed her studies at the Royal College of Music in London. She went on to be a Prizewinner of the Leeds International Piano competition and has enjoyed a career performing with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Moscow Philharmonic, the English Chamber Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, working with renowned conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, David Shallon and Alexander Lazarev and great chamber musicians like Janine Jansens, Maxim Rysanov, Jack Liebeck and Nicholas Daniel. See Katya’s events here

Australian Festival of Chamber Music

28 July to 6 August 2023 in Townsville-Gurambilbarra, North Queensland

Concert tickets, Festival passes and holiday packages on sale NOW

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AFCM principal partners include Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland and Arts Queensland, and Townsville City Council. AFCM is supported by the Queensland Government, through Tourism and Events Queensland, and features on the It’s Live! In Queensland events calendar.

/Public Release.