Classical music is more fun than you think it is. Which is why Sunshine Coast Chamber Music Festival co-director Lynne Bradley is trying to attract a broader audience.

She co-directs the festival with James Lees, well known as a musician and producer. Neither come from the world of classical music but both know how to put on a show.

Bradley has worked as a director, choreographer and performer and actor trainer in Brisbane for a couple of decades and famously founded the ground-breaking Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre troupe with Simon Woods.

Now she is turning her attention to the world of chamber music and she wants to think outside the box to attract new audiences to the festival, which runs June 6 to 9 at Buderim and other venues on the Sunshine Coast and its hinterland.

“I want to bring non-classical people to the table,” Bradley says.  “To do that we have to make the festival more accessible. To stay alive, we need to breathe new life into these works. I’m always asking people who are comfortable doing it to step into the storytelling role.”

Bradley admits that some classically trained musicians have sometimes been reluctant to talk about their work to their audiences, but Bradley encourages them to do so and to get comfortable with doing that.

“Long thought of as a conversation between instruments, in 2024 the Sunshine Coast Chamber Music Festival will extend that conversation to include the audience, celebrating the art of storytelling as artists break tradition to weave music and words together in an irresistible series of concerts filled with wonder, heart and humour.”

This year’s program features several exciting Queensland and Sunshine Coast premieres with some of the biggest names in classical music in Australia, including Elena Kats-Chernin, Tamara-Anna Cislowska, Simon Tedeschi, Alex Raineri and the Orava Quartet.

One of the treats this year is With Love, Amadeus, a thrilling collaboration between two of Australia’s leading artists from theatre and classical music. John Bell is the nation’s leading thespian and Simon Tedeschi is a legendary musician and their performance will include readings from a letter written by Mozart and sharing key moments in his life. This event perfectly articulates this year’s storytelling theme and will be presented in the Caloundra Entertainment Centre.

ARIA award-winning pianist Tamara-Anna Cislowska will perform alongside internationally renowned composer Elena Kats-Chernin in 4 Hands, 1 Piano, featuring music inspired by family and fantasy, from Paris to the Silk Road.

Last year Brisbane-based world-music star Tibetan Tenzin Choegyal pitched an idea to Bradley that involved a moving performance in the Maroochy Bushlands Botanical Gardens.

“It’s called Meditate: Anytime, Anywhere and he has previously done a version of this with Laurie Anderson,” Bradley says. “He invites people from other music traditions and the musicians wander through the gardens.”

Classical and chamber music worlds will mix with world music textures as the audience is led on a journey through the gardens.

Another treat this year is the classical music boy band Orava Quartet’s concert A Night of Romance, in the Beerwah Hall.

The festival will begin with a welcome ceremony featuring Aunty Helena Gulash, Topology, Lyndon Davis and Gubbi Gubbi dancers.

The festival is a mixture of free and paid events and Bradley is hoping her third festival is her best yet. She’s thankful smaller bespoke festivals such as this are surviving and thriving while bigger festivals are either struggling or shutting down.

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