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2021 Australian Festival of Chamber Music cancelled due to COVID

2021 Australian Festival of Chamber Music cancelled due to COVID
July 19, 2021

The Australian Festival of Chamber Music's much anticipated 10-day event has been cancelled due to Sydney and Melbourne currently experiencing extensive COVID lockdowns.

The organisers of AFCM announced that the event - which was due to open next Friday, 23rd July 23 and run through to Sunday 1st August - will not take place with AFCM Chair, Sandra Yates stating that the decision to cancel was not made lightly.

Yates advised “lockdowns in the Greater Sydney area and Victoria, and the border closures in Queensland have left us with no option but to cancel this year’s Festival.  We hope to be back in 2022 with an exciting program from incoming Artistic Director Jack Liebeck but in the meantime, warmest thanks to our Artistic Director, Kathryn Stott, all the artists who were scheduled to perform, and everyone who has supported us through this extremely difficult time.

“We will therefore celebrate AFCM’s much anticipated 30th year of music making in North Queensland in 2022 with incoming Artistic Director, UK based violinist Jack Liebeck, taking over the reins from Kathryn. The 2022 Festival dates are 29th July to 6th August 2022.”

In positive news, the two education programs that run alongside the main Festival program in the Advanced Winterschool and the Junior Winterschool, will continue as planned.

Fortunately, Junior Winterschool Director Lloyd Van’t Hoff flew into Townsville early, so AFCM will still deliver workshops to local Townsville schools and present two concerts in the regional centres of Charters Towers and Ayr. 

Advanced Winterschool Director, Adam Chalabi will also still make the journey to Townsville from Brisbane to deliver the 10-day coaching program to tertiary level ensembles.

By luck, two other visiting Festival musicians have also arrived in Townsville early. Rising violin star Grace Clifford and international pianist Piers Lane will add their expertise and mentoring to Advanced Winterschool students.

Three ensembles will travel from Brisbane to participate in the developmental program. They include the Amiti String Quartet, whose members currently study music at the University of Queensland, the Delma Winds quintet, all of whom study at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, and the Oonoda-Gibson Duo, recently graduated from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music.

Queens Garden Concert
Didgeridoo superstar William Barton also landed in Townsville early and will headline the music program for the annual concert in the park, co-presented by AFCM and Townsville City Council. This free event is a highlight on the North Queensland calendar attracting thousands of audience members of all ages.

Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said she shared the community’s disappointment that the full AFCM program would not proceed as hoped in 2021 but looked forward to the event occurring in 2022 noting “I know the committee and performers have been working hard in the hope that this year’s event would be able to proceed, however the developing COVID situation in the southern states in recent days have forced their hand.

“Thankfully, the Queens Garden concert and the winter schools can proceed.

“Council remains committed to working with the AFCM committee to ensure next year’s event can proceed.”

Yates added “we sincerely thank every artist who had so joyfully signed on to perform this year, especially those who jumped in at the last minute, and to Kathryn Stott, we extend the greatest thank you for what has been extraordinary musical leadership since 2018, two stunning Festival programs and an unwavering commitment to deliver music to patrons this past 18 months. Our music will play on – we will see you all in 2022!”

All details regarding ticket transfers, donations and refunds can be found on the website at 

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