In 2011 Howard Penny joined forces with fellow cellist Chris Howlett and imagined a festival combining three of their passions: chamber music, fine food and wine. The enthusiasm of the Hunter family of Sanguine Estate meant the Festival found a perfect home, and the Heathcote and Greater Bendigo regions welcomed the idea warmly from the start. The successful combination of top international and Australian artists, exciting programming, a beautiful setting, award-winning wines, with excellent food highlighting local produce and talent, attracts an enthusiastic and loyal audience who value the relaxed and intimate atmosphere.
With the Directors’ ability to draw on musicians of the highest calibre from all over the world and Australia, our family of “regulars” including Ian Munro, Sara Macliver and Tobias Breider are each year complemented by outstanding guests to create a varied programme appealing both to chamber music aficionados as well as those just curious to hear great music played by great musicians. The intimacy of the Barrel Room, as well as the strictly limited number of patrons, ensure a unique opportunity for artists and audience to mingle in a relaxed ambience.
The much-loved “Inside the Music” presentation gives guests a captivating inside track experience of the musician’s world, while the Food and Wine Matching Master Class lunch for Reserve Pass holders does the same from the perspective of top winemaker and chef. From the relaxed atmosphere of the Welcome Concert on Friday evening, to the buzz of the Gala Concert and Dinner on Saturday, this is a weekend of wonderful shared experiences.
The free Community Concert on Saturday morning, which festival patrons are also welcome to attend, as well as our presentations in local schools, form a small thank you to the Heathcote area for its support.