Tickets to the 30th and final Huntington Estate Music Festival go on pre-sale (by invitation only) throughout mid-February, with remaining tickets available to the general public on 1 March. In 2019, the family owned and run Huntington Estate winery will celebrate 50 years of operation, and 30 years of presenting the Festival. Owners Tim and Nicky Stevens have reluctantly decided to end the Festival in its prime in order to focus on the core business of growing grapes and making wine.
‘It’s been a privilege to partner with Carl Vine and Musica Viva Australia to host the Huntington Estate Music Festival in Mudgee for the past 13 years,’ says Nicky Stevens, Festival CEO and General Manager of the winery.
Huntington Estate was established in 1969 by Bob and Wendy Roberts who also, with Richard Tognetti and the ACO, began the Festival in 1989 – the first of its kind in Australia. Since 2006, the Festival has been presented by the Stevens family, with Carl Vine AO as Artistic Director, and Musica Viva providing the artistic content. Fine music, wine, local produce and a beautiful countryside location have proved a winning combination for audience, musicians and critics alike.
Discussing the reasons for the change, Tim Stevens, Chief Winemaker, noted: ‘An event of this stature and duration requires weeks of intensive preparation, as our barrel hall is transformed into a concert hall; the packing shed into an art gallery, and the grounds into a restaurant and bar. Presenting ten concerts across eight days is exhilarating but exhausting for all concerned. Running a small business is already more than a full-time job, and we have taken the decision that the grapes, the wine, our young children and staff must come first.’
Nicky adds: ‘The Festival has enriched our lives, bringing so many wonderful people and experiences into our winery. We’ve shared some extraordinary moments with our audience over the years, and this spring, we look forward to presenting an unforgettable Festival, a fitting finale to this amazing event.’
The Festival’s historic moments included early days with the ACO and friends, through to presenting Jordi Savall and members of Hesperion XXI, Ray Chen playing solo Bach, Antony Marwood and Aleksandar Madžar combining with the ANAM chamber orchestra; notable Australian debuts including Alina Ibragimova, the Danish Quartet, Imani Winds, and Sebastian Manz; numerous world premieres by Australian composers; and a pantheon of Australia’s finest chamber musicians, including regular guests the Goldner Quartet.
The final Festival is set to be the best musical vintage yet. Artistic Director Carl Vine said: ‘Devising musical content for the last Huntington Festival ever has been a daunting prospect. In the end I had to let the magic of this unparalleled event speak for itself, and concentrated simply on assembling a stellar collection of chamber musicians from around the world and compiling the most interesting, satisfying and surprising repertoire I could find.’
2019 Festival highlights include Ukrainian-Australian pianist Alexander Gavrylyuk, French harpist Isabelle Moretti, Ukrainian violist Maxim Rysanov, the Australian String Quartet, tenor Andrew Goodwin, pianists Aura Go and Ian Munro, Arcadia Winds, perennial audience favourites the Goldner Quartet, and the multi-national Trio Marvin, winners of the 2018 Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition.
Beyond 2019, Huntington Estate will continue its long association with chamber music as an active wine sponsor of Musica Viva, Opera Australia Foundation and the Omega Ensemble, and by supporting music development in the community of Mudgee.
Musica Viva CEO Hywel Sims said ‘We are proud to have been so closely associated with the wonderful team at Huntington Estate for the past 13 years and celebrate their unique contribution to chamber music in Australia. We’re delighted that Huntington Estate will continue our association as wine sponsor for the Musica Viva Festival, our concerts and our other activities in NSW and Queensland.’
Nicky concluded: ‘Huntington Estate is so grateful for the support of Musica Viva; our many partners including Theme & Variations Piano Services and the ABC; and our audience and artists who come from all around Australia and all corners of the globe.’