If anyone knows the value of the arts in regional Queensland it is Brendan Joyce.

The artistic director and leader of Camerata – Queensland’s chamber orchestra – grew up in Ayr in Far North Queensland and remembers how inspirational it was to have visits from the wide world beyond.

He recalls visits to Ayr by musicians such as Pamela Page and Roger Woodward, among others.

“I met Camerata’s founder Elizabeth Morgan when the Mayne String Trio toured regionally and played at the Burdekin cane growers hall,” he says. “I know from first hand experience what an impact those visits make, since I was the only violin in the village.”

Joyce has been back to his hometown to play with Camerata and wants to get back sooner rather than later.

Camerata does get around thanks to their regional tours and right now they are getting into shape for the annual Queensland tour.

In May and June communities in the Wide Bay, Burnett and Central Queensland areas of Bundaberg, Monto, Theodore and Biloela will experience a suite of community engagement activities, from kindergarten performances to visits to senior citizens, culminating in an evening performance in each town.

Camerata in Concert will feature a 15-piece orchestra and a joyous program that includes works by the Italian Baroque violin virtuoso Locatelli, Dvorak’s radiant Serenade For Strings and a new composition by Camerata’s 2024 emerging composer-in-residence Alexandra Mison.

Mison joined Joyce on a recent recce of a couple of towns to be visited on tour in order to get some inspiration for her work ahead of the tour. Her piece will conjure evocative soundscapes in an exciting new work for string orchestra.

Camerata will also be joined for some encores by local performers and community musicians. Premiering Mison’s latest piece in regional Queensland follows a long tradition of local audiences enjoying new music commissioned by Camerata.

Transport for the tour is a bus called Cam (short for Camerata) named in honour of the orchestra by Mt Gravatt Coach & Travel. The company supplies the transport and what happens on tour stays on tour. Mostly.

“Although people do seem to like to tell stories about me,” Joyce says, laughing.

He points out that over the years he has played to audiences that included young musicians who were inspired and went on to study music. He says everyone in the orchestra loves going on tour.

“Every tour in Queensland is an exciting moment for us because so often we are meeting new people and places for the first time,” he says. “But this tour is even better in that we are going to new places such as Monto, but also visiting old friends in Biloela and Bundaberg.

“Camerata tours show the full breadth of our orchestra’s interests and abilities, being equally at home in front of kindy kids, school students, people in their twilight years, collaborating with local artists or performing gala evening shows. In a way, you get so much more in a few days of Camerata in your town than our followers in Brisbane, but don’t tell them I said that.”

Camerata’s May-June Queensland tour is made possible with the support of the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland and Camerata’s presenting partners.


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