Great Stott: New AFCM Head Looks To Future

UK pianist Kathryn Stott will make her debut as Artistic Director of the Australian Festival of Chamber Music in 2018.

New Artistic Director of the Australian Festival of Chamber Music (AFCM), Kathryn Stott, is balancing some well-trod traditions with some fresh new ideas for this July’s annual event.

2018’s Program boasts an impressive line-up including an impressive list of female composers and Australian debuts.

“Being the first female Artistic Director of the Australian Festival of Chamber Music, it seemed appropriate that I bring something new into the Festival so we have 10 female composers featuring this year – forming a mini focus on women,” Kathryn said.

“There are more than 35 musicians flying in for this Festival – 13 from overseas – and six of those are making their Australian debut here.

“That’s what I love about AFCM: the collaboration. What I’ve found since coming on board is that as I come up with these ideas, I’ll go and tell people about them and they’re really welcoming and willing to try new things. What’s really exciting is bringing all of these elements together, seeing what happens, and where the musicians take it in the future. Obviously what we want is both a super exciting event now, but also to sow seeds and see what they do further afield because music lives on and on, and is bigger than all of us.”

Returning events for the Festival include concerts on the beaches of Orpheus and Magnetic Islands, masterclasses by some of the many musicians in residence, and the hugely-popular Families Concert in Queens Gardens.

“This Festival is really for everybody. The Families Concert is just that: a families’ concert, not a children’s concert. I really wanted to make it something that involved the whole family, a big community sing-song.”

Despite 2018 being Kathryn’s first year as AFCM Artistic Director, her relationship with the Festival started more than a decade ago.

“I first came to the Festival when it was my predecessor Piers Lane’s first event [as Artistic Director] – about 11 years ago. Since then, I’ve made four visits. I’ve given my own mini-title to the Festival called ‘Connections‘ – because it has made so many connections for so many people.”

As for why an acclaimed UK pianist would fly across the globe to direct a Festival in Townsville, Australia:

“Are you joking? Have you looked outside? This is amazing; a dream. The Festival is long-established. That in itself is attractive, because it’s already up-and-running so we don’t have to start from the ground up; we just have to keep it fresh and keep bringing in new levels. I’ve got different interests, so I think that’ll add something new to the Festival. Why wouldn’t I want to come here?”

AFCM Executive Director, Justin Ankus, said welcoming Kathryn to the Festival team had brought new ideas to the table and created a lot more excitement around the 2018 program.

“It’s been quite amazing working with Kathryn because what she’s done has been keeping the best of AFCM traditions, while sprinkling a few new tastes and experiences in. There’ll be something in there that’ll be familiar to people as well as challenging,” Justin said.

“I’ve had the privilege of working [with Kathryn] for the last eight or so months, hearing her ideas and talking to everyone about her – it’s been very exciting to do that and see this process now come alive with the launch. It’s been amazing.”

Tickets, Festival passes and holiday packages for the 2018 Australian Festival of Chamber Music go on sale to members at 9am on 7 March, and to the general public at 9am on 4 April. For more information, click here.

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