AN ATTENTIVE audience of more than 1500 people gathered on the lush green amphitheatre at the weekend’s Four Winds Festival.
They were treated to an exceptional two days of performances by some of the world’s best musicians and artists – and that was after an estimated 1900 people enjoyed the free outdoor concert at the Bermagui Fishermen’s Wharf on Friday night.
The line-up offered by Four Winds artistic director Paul Kildea included violin virtuosi Richard Tognetti, Zen Hu and Satu Vänskä, brilliant pianist Dejan Lazic and pioneering cellist Giovanni Sollima.
They were accompanied by the young stars of the Auric Quartet and local percussionist David Hewitt.
In a work composed specifically for the Four Winds Festival by Kate Neal, Indigenous poet Herb Wharton’s recitation of Making Tracks was the lynch-pin of musical movements by the Auric Quartet and Hewitt, with singer Shellie Morris also adding her own voice.
However, in a late change, with Morris “not in the best of vocal health” on the day according to Mr Kildea, most of her vocal line was performed by a clarinet.
Despite the change in schedule, Ms Neal was still beaming with pride after the piece played to the large audience on Saturday afternoon.
“”It’s always strange to have a song that’s not sung,” she told the BDN.
“New work always raises lots of challenges.
“Some of the music we love the most has great tension at its start, but that all went very well.”
Also very pleased with the weekend was Four Winds chairwoman Sheena Boughen.
“The response has been wonderful,” Ms Boughen said.
“To have Richard, Giovanni and Dejan here is incredible.
“These are three of the best musicians in the world in their fields and to hear them in this space, heard in a new way, is outstanding.”
Many in the crowd were in particular awe of Sollima’s incredible versatility and individual performance – his percussive cello with deep, rich musical lines a standout feature of his Concerto Rotondo.
However, Ms Boughen was particularly pleased with the way the entire program, which combined elements of the familiar along with brand new works, had been received
“I honestly feel, from all the feedback I’m hearing, is that people have universally loved the whole spread.
“Paul has really chosen well and created a lovely range.”
In keeping with the Four Winds tagline of “Nature’s Concert Hall”, many of the pieces were accompanied by the sounds of wind through the trees, lilting bird song – or the slightly harsher squawking of rainbow lorikeets – and at one point a snake, which had to be swept from the stage, delaying the start of one of the pieces.