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Sanguine Estate Music Festival - hits all the right notes
As the Sanguine Estate Music Festival approaches its third birthday, Weekend Notes managed to catch up with festival directors Howard Penny and Chris Howlett for a taste of things to come at this celebration of three of our favourite things: classical music, wine and food: Creating a music festival from nothing is a huge logistical task and one that you set yourselves three years ago with great success. Third time round must be a doddle. Discuss.
Doddle? Hmmmm….. Third time around we've had a bit of practice at things now, and have established a great support team, but the personal touch which we value means that there is always a lot to look after. We're constantly fine tuning things and each year's programme presents different requirements and challenges, but we can now say that in only three years Sanguine is now firmly established as one of Australia's main chamber music festivals.
What's the division of labour between you and what part does the Hunter family of Sanguine Estate play?
Chris is very much the hands-on man for most of the logistical issues, while Howard looks after most of the things to do with the artists and programme, but of course there's overlap. The involvement of the Hunter family is now mainly to prepare the estate for the festival days, and of course planning the wines to be served!
This year you have managed to snaffle Italian violinist Lorenza Borrani and pianist Daniel De Borah. What will these two performers bring to the festival?
We're thrilled that Lorenza, who is the Leader of the prestigious Chamber Orchestra of Europe, will be coming exclusively to Sanguine this year. She's never been to Australia and we can't imagine a better introduction! Apart from being a sensational performer, she is a bright and delightful personality who will fit in to the festival atmosphere perfectly. Daniel has been making a huge name for himself over the last years both here and in London, and is almost equally as obsessed with food and wine as he is about music – again, a perfect match!
Sanguine Estate Music Festival has always been very much about the Heathcote community: local businesses such as Monsieur Pierre of Kyneton and Heathcote Wine Tours play a large part in the weekend, not to mention hotels, motels and B-and-Bs in the Heathcote and Bendigo areas. Is it true to say that the support of local businesses has been a big factor in the success of the Sanguine Estate Music Festival?
Yes, right from the start one of our main considerations was to become truly part of the Heathcote community, and the support and enthusiasm from local businesses and organisations have been overwhelming. We're growing together.
Speaking of community, the music education programme you have introduced at Heathcote Primary School continues to be a great success, introducing students to what is often their first taste of classical music. This year is the first staging of a free Community Concert in Heathcote Church on the Saturday morning of the festival. How important has the support of Heathcote residents been to its success?
It's fantastic that the Festival now has a presence in Heathcote throughout the year – and how generous and inspiring of Brett Dean to donate a keyboard to Heathcote Primary! And the new free Community Concert is conceived as a small thank you to our local supporters.
Finally, what are your personal Festival highlights of the past two years, and what are you particularly looking forward to in this year's programme?
The highlight is and will always be the moment of walking on stage on the Friday evening, seeing a beautiful barrel room full of eager faces, and knowing that we can now be "just" musicians! Also the anticipation and involvement surrounding the Inside the Music session has been amazing. For this year we're adding a surprise element on the Saturday night, both an unannounced major work and a guest artist – exciting for everyone we hope!