Australian Festival of Chamber Music

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The Australian Festival of Chamber Music (AFCM) is a nine-day international festival focused on chamber music held in Townsville, North Queensland commencing on the last Friday in July. The AfCM also incorporates a Winterschool for emerging artists.[1] Some 20 to 30 chamber musicians from around Australia and the world converge on Townsville, each year to perform and teach emerging artists.

The festival was founded in July 1991 and has been held annually ever since.[1] In 2015 it celebrated its 25th anniversary. It is the largest festival dedicated to chamber music in the southern hemisphere.[2]

The AFCM is presented in partnership with all three levels of government as well as several commercial, tourism, regional development, and educational, organisations.[3] The festival's patron is Paul de Jersey, Governor of Queensland.


The festival was founded in 1990 for a 1991 premiere by Professor Ray Golding, the then Vice-Chancellor of James Cook University and Theodore Kuchar who continued as the artistic director for the next 16 years until 2006. The festival began conservatively focusing on the more contemporary music of the classical and romantic periods, over the first five years Kuchar started inserting works of Bartok, Bloch, Martinu, Shostakovich, expanding the musical depth for enthusiasts while maintaining the popular appeal.[4]

The festival has tried to avoid a perception that it is only there for cultivated southerners, for example in 2005 for the first time the AFCM had a presence at a Cowboys football match and in 2006 increased publicity focusing locally.[4]

In 2007 the AFCM gained a new Artistic Director in Piers Lane AO. Lane, an Australian, is a leading international pianist who is based in London;[5] The 2007 programme involved vocalists and more variety than previous years to appeal to a broader audience, taking a "lifestyle approach" and focussing on music, wine and food.[6]


At the 2006 festival about 10,000 tickets were issued with five concerts sold out,[7] outperforming all previous years and 2005 by 20%; it had pre-sold 1200 tickets for one concert alone (Symphony Under the Stars at Queens Gardens)[8] and had an average audience size of about 750 people. About 50% of audience numbers were from interstate or international guests to Townsville.[9]


During the festival master classes are held for around 30 music students attending the Winterschool by the artists who also have a full schedule of performances.

Day off activities[edit]

Each year the Festival has a "day-off" during which festival patrons have an opportunity to hear chamber music but in more unusual settings.

Orpheus Island Cruise[edit]

The Orpheus Island Cruise has been one of the highlights for festival patrons. En-oute to Orpheus Island, whales have been often cited in the waters around the Palm Island group. Upon llanding,patrons had the opportunity to enjoy the secluded beach and adjacent national park before settling down for a short performance from festival artists. The tour first took place in 2013 and was repeated in 2016.

Outback Tour[edit]

From 2002 to 2010, the Outback Tour brought some of the best music in the world to some of the most isolated places in the world. In 2006 enthusiastic music lovers, join six musicians (including didgeridoo player William Barton) in a five-day tour of Outback Australia, visiting Cloncurry, Ernest Henry Mine, Mount Isa, Normanton and Karumba focusing on fine food and music and masterclasses with hands on experience of the Queensland mining industry and communities. Works included; Peter Sculthorpe – String Quartet No. 9; Philip Glass – String Quartet No. 2 Company; Hardin (aka Moondog) – Synchrony No. 2; Lee – Morango – Like a Tango; Barton – Sacred Song and Hindson – Technologic.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "AFCM Official Webpage – About the Festival – Festival Profile". Archived from the original on 7 January 2007. Retrieved 10 January 2007. 
  2. ^ "Dynamic team gears up". Townsville Bulletin "The Guide". Published 20 November 2006, p. 24
  3. ^ "AFCM Official Webpage – Support the Festival – Partners". Archived from the original on 7 January 2007. Retrieved 10 January 2007. 
  4. ^ a b Matthew Westwood: "MATP Festival to tackle new directions". The Australian Features, Published 4 July 2006, p. 14
  5. ^ Isis Stuckenschmidt 'New AFCM director cases the joint. Townsville Bulletin, Published 28 October 2006 p. 5
  6. ^ Minikas, Lisa (March 2007). "David Pratt To Hollywood & Back". City Life. p. 17. 
  7. ^ Townsville Sun Australian Festival of Chamber Music roundup. Published 12 July 2006, p. 8
  8. ^ Leonie Johnson: "Music lovers in tune with festival". Townsville Bulletin, Published 10 July 2006 p. 7
  9. ^ Isis Stuckenschmidt: "Festival set to end on right note". Townsville Bulletin, Published 8 July 2006 p. 13
  10. ^ "AFCM Official Webpage – Festival Program – The Outback Tour". Retrieved 11 January 2007. [dead link]

Coordinates: 19°15′27.13″S 146°49′04.23″E / 19.2575361°S 146.8178417°E / -19.2575361; 146.8178417