Bellingen Fine Music Festival 2018 opening concert

The Memorial Hall was packed with young performers last night, with both the Bellingen Youth Orchestra and its more recently conceived younger sibling, the BYO String School, gracing the stage and filling the room with wonderful music.

Acacia Quartet violinist Myee Clohessy was so moved by the outstanding quality of the players and the student compositions her quartet were performing that she grabbed a microphone to declare Bellingen “the centre of musical education on the east coast”.

The concert began with the BYO playing the 1st movement from the Unfinished Symphony by Franz Schubert, which you can see and hear on the video below.

This year, instead of commissioning a new work, the BYO played two pieces with the hauntingly beautiful guitar of special guest artist Karin Schaupp – Cavatina by Stanley Myers and Antarctica, Suite for Guitar and Orchestra by Nigel Westlake.

Armidale harpist Isla Biffin also joined them for the Antarctica piece, which finished with the rollicking ‘Penguin Circus’ for mixed percussion ensemble.

The Acacia Quartet played eight compositions selected for the Music-by-Youth program, created by HSC students from Bellingen High, Toormina High and the Coffs Harbour Senior College.

As a finale, the BYO and the BYO String School joined forces under the baton of conductor Pru Borgert to give a rousing rendition of Jupiter the Bringer of Jollity from The Planets by Gustav Holst.

Closing the concert, BYO artistic director Ann Phelan invited the audience to an amazing spectacle coming up on December 1 at the Bellingen Showground – the BYO performing Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, complete with canons and fireworks!