Celebrate music, song and dance

AS THE Bellingen Music Festival finetunes its sixth program, its reputation as a niche festival showcasing an exciting diversity of contemporary classical music, as well as nurturing the young musicians who present it, is growing.

As bandoneon (a type of concertina) player, Owen Salome, from the dynamic ensemble Tángalo puts it: "Small festivals like Bellingen's are a wonderful way to spread the music we love."

In Owen's case, along with his four Tángalo colleagues, their passion took them to Buenos Aires last year to learn more about the tango, its complexities and phrasing - facets that are only accessible in Argentina itself.

"It was an amazing experience," Owen said.

"There are so many versions of tango, from the traditional to punk and everything in-between - it was really exciting to engage with all that."

As part of the festival Tángalo will join Coffs Latin Rhythms in a workshop that will not only get participants into the sexy swing of the tango but also offer an opportunity to perform at Saturday night's "Lift the Spirit" concert on September 19.

Also on stage on the Saturday night, will be Sydney Camerata and Duo Histoire, a collaboration of strings, guitar and saxophone offering musical treats from Spanish romantic to Bossa Nova to traditional classical repertoire.

Cellist Mathisha Panagoda, who is a lawyer in his other life, said it was vital for classical musicians to be open to a whole range of music.

"We love bringing our music to different audiences … people are saturated in the city but at small festivals audiences are more engaged, they listen differently."

"I think the Bellingen Festival is unique in the level of community engagement it offers."

These groups will be joined by others from September 18-20 for a festival, bringing classical music, old and new.

To see the full program and to book tickets go to bellingenmusicfestival.com.au.

Contact: Rosie Wickert 0419 401 901

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