Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music

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Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music

If David Chisholm, director and founder of Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music had to describe the festival in one word, it would be unique. “Unique is a really overused word, but I think we’ve made, over the last four years, a really significant right to be able to claim that status. It has a very unique perspective on music.”

The first festival of its kind took place in 2013 and has grown significantly in scale every year since. It gets rid of the barriers and allows the audience to completely engage – creating an experience like no other. “What we do is take away any distance between the performer and audience. That becomes very clear for anyone who comes along,” David says.

With its incredibly talented, highly skilled musicians and composers, both international and local, BIFEM promises moving performances. The weekend festival runs from September 2nd – 4th, and takes place at various venues in Bendigo. What’s even better is that you won’t have to stress about waiting for cabs, as most venues are within walking distance of each other. Some of the venues include The Capital Theatre, Dudley House, Bendigo Bank Theatre and The Town Hall – just to name a few.

As an award-winning composer himself, David felt he needed a platform for music of this kind, for composers and musicians to get the chance to showcase their full works. He started writing music at the age of 13. “Piano then became a device – a device to create,” David says. So it’s really no surprise that someone so passionate and dedicated is using his articulate visions to bring us such a festival. “All good music needs to speak of the time it’s from, but also across time as well. That’s what we do.”

The prices for entry at the venues are super cheap, and some are even free! Tickets can be purchased online via their website, which also offers limited Gold Pass weekend passes and day passes. David says it’s a priority for him: “I think it’s important to have free and low cost things for people to access.”

Although it was hard for him to single people out, David mentioned his excitement for the local Bendigo Symphony Orchestra to collaborate with Swiss brothers, Andre and Michel Decosterd. The project is called PHO:TON. “It’s a really extraordinary, ambitious visual project that involves a piano soloist, and a digital piano, who triggers lights that brings the musicians to light. It’s really cool,” David explains. “There are an enormous number of composers here and a lot of premier work.”

David says the festival “doesn’t try to be broad, it’s not afraid to be very very specific”.
When asked what experience BIFEM will bring for those who have not yet attended one previously, David says: “They will experience excellence. They will experience ritual more than anything else, and they will be reminded of the fact that style is not what makes music connected, its substance, it’s something that’s beyond.”

With easily accessible venues, low-cost (or free) tickets, and most importantly, music that speaks across time, the BIFEM is sure to be an amazingly unique experience.

Written Tayla Haigh

When & Where: Bendigo – September 2-4