Opening Night of the Australian Festival of Chamber Music
Sandra, thank you for your very warm welcome. I too acknowledge our distinguished guests including Minister Walker, the Member for Townsville representing Minister Stuckey, and Mayor Hill. I also warmly thank the AFCM for its kind invitation that we be here this evening.
Tonight is particularly special for Kaye and me, it, being our first regional visit since my being sworn in as Governor earlier this week. Also, Kaye returns to this city in which she lived for years as a teen – so happily! Many of you will know I have a long-standing further connection, through my family, with this wonderful city.
But before I continue, I must at once acknowledge, with great respect, the Wulgurukaba and Bindal people, whose traditional connection to the area around the Civic Theatre goes back thousands of years.
This remarkable Festival has developed over the past twenty-four years into one of Queensland’s, our nation’s, premier cultural events, and the ‘wow’ factor is simply wonderful!
In the foreword to the Festival program I mentioned the team had taken great care in both the choice of repertoire and in bringing together such distinguished artists.
This was undoubtedly evident tonight, and I believe it is this commitment, plus the uniquely beautiful tropical setting here in Townsville, which make the Festival so successful. Those features establish the Festival as a benchmark for similar events throughout Australia.
The message is clear. The Australian Festival of Chamber Music is an event of immense international repute. Showcasing high art and cultural endeavour, including world-class classical and chamber music, is not the exclusive domain of Australia’s capital cities – including, may I say, even of Brisbane, of which we are so naturally proud. But how wonderful that Queensland is the host!
It would be remiss of me not to mention, now, the inimitable Piers Lane. I was so privileged to meet Piers so many years ago now, through the Lev Vlassenko Piano Competition. He was even gracious enough to join us in my Chief Justice’s chambers for lunch.
Earlier this year my predecessor Governor Wensley hosted a reception at Government House in Brisbane, in recognition of this extraordinary person’s contribution as teacher, mentor, adjudicator, and, in relation to the Festival, artistic director. And so justified!
Now Piers has again brought passion and flair to the 2014 program. It is a program which befits our tropical setting, from well-loved chamber pieces from the perennials of Bach and Beethoven, to the spirited works of composer-in-residence Elena Kats-Chernin and prominent didgeridoo-player William Barton.
I am especially pleased to see the Camerata of St John’s – with whom I have been involved personally over the years, including as patron – bringing their musical delights to Townsville once again.
Both Kaye and I look forward to seeing and hearing them perform, alongside other distinguished acts, at the eponymous Governor’s Gala tomorrow night.
When I was sworn in as Governor I said I would seek to support, encourage and inspire all Queenslanders, and to do all I may to uphold and promote the advancement of our great State. And how uplifting, for so many of our citizens, to be doing this through cultural endeavours, and especially for Kaye and me, in regional Queensland.
There is no doubt the efforts of Piers and the entire Festival team, including newly appointed chair Sandra Yates, Festival staff, volunteers, and sponsors (of whom there are many), truly magnificently secure just that – tapping into the universality of music to enliven the collective spirit of Queenslanders.
Kaye and I have a deep and abiding love for the arts and music, and after what we’ve seen tonight, we look forward to an equally enduring relationship with the Festival, and indeed this wonderful city of Townsville, and the Far North, during my term as Governor. You are all truly wonderful!