This weekend Woodend will be bursting with colour, music and movement as the Woodend Winter Arts Festival launches with the much-loved free fireworks on Friday night.
It will be the biggest Friday night for entertainment in Woodend for the year as the town is set to triple its population with visitors from Melbourne, interstate and overseas arrive for the festival experience.
And while the program is packed with some of the best creative, musical and literary talent here and overseas, there is also a free program (beginning with the fireworks at Buffalo Stadium) which includes poetry at the pub, no less than four art exhibitions and a children’s session at the Woodend Library.
Opening night features two concerts. One of them an ambitious collaboration of some of Australia’s leading creatives from different disciplines will bring to life La Pellegrina (The Pilgrim Woman), most famously performed at the lavish wedding of Ferdinand I de’ Medici, Grand-Duke of Tuscany, with Christine de Lorraine, grand-daughter of the former queen-mother of France, Catherine de’ Medici in 1589. This is a unique experience, with period instruments, masked singers and brightly coloured sculptural costumes, while triple screens feature a shadow play created by two dancers.
The second concert is a festival favourite – violinist Lucinda Moon will perform Bach’s glorious Sonata in A minor (BWV 1003) and the much-loved Partita in D minor (BWV 1004) in the intimate candlelit interior of St Ambrose Church – hence Bach in the Dark – for one night only.
Tickets for most events were at least half sold a week out from the weekend, including the two final events for the weekend – Schubert’s Octet (performed by the Melbourne Ensemble comprising members of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra) and the Festival Finale dinner Operetta Nella Foresta at Braemar’s historic Jackson Hall.
There are loads of free events at this year’s festival – see the website for details – www.woodendwinterartsfestival.org.au
NOTE: Due to a change in circumstances, there has been a program change to events featuring Pietro Roffi, who unfortunately cannot be at this year’s festival as planned. The Festival Finale dinner will now feature four upcoming opera stars from Victoria Opera and the Melba Trust who will present an evening of well-known opera classics, Gilbert and Sullivan and some surprises! Another Mad Italian will join violinist Davide Monti for the Two Mad Italians performance. Accordionist Salvatore Greco has been performing and honing his skills as an accordionist since his childhood in Italy and now plays with Melbourne-based ensembles, including Italian traditional music combo Bella Ciao and French bands La Mauvaise Reputation and Nuit Blanche.