To really celebrate the music of a state as huge and diverse as Queensland, you need a festival with ideas just as big. Every two years the Queensland Music Festival looks to rise to the challenge, with classical and contemporary music, theatre and performance events all across the state in July.

This year is no different. To help us navigate 2017’s ambitious program, artistic director and musician Katie Noonan gave us her tips for the five most exciting events to see in Brisbane during the festival.

Songs That Made Me
“The first event I’d recommend is ‘Songs That Made Me’, which features a group of incredible female singers and musicians singing in an all-girl band. They’ll be playing a mix of songs they’ve written and songs that helped shape and inspire them as musicians. Performing on the night are the legendary Deborah Conway, the beautiful Clair Bowditch, and Hannah Macklin, who’s a wonderful up-and-coming Queensland musician. It’ll be a great night celebrating powerful women in Queensland and Australia.”

“This is an evening of classical and contemporary music. The Queensland Chamber Orchestra will perform stories of people seeking sanctuary, seeking asylum and refuge. The event features the world premiere of a concerto by Australian composer Joe Chindamo. He has written an incredibly beautiful work, commissioned for internationally renowned oboist Diana Doherty and her husband, cor-anglais player Alexandre Oguey. The Brodsky Quartet’s Paul Cassidy has also done an arrangement of Elvis Costello’s song Favourite Hour, and Brooke Green has composed a song called Reza Barati, dedicated to asylum seeker Reza Barati who died on Manus Island in 2014. This will be a very moving and beautiful event.”

Hang with QYO
“Another premiere is this concerto written by Queensland composer Thomas Green for ‘Hang with QYO’, our other big orchestra event at QPAC. Green has written the concerto in honour of the founder of the Queensland Youth Orchestra, John Curro, who’s been mentoring young musicians for 50 years and has shaped so much of the culture of Queensland orchestral music. In the spirit of youthful enthusiasm we’ll have the Queensland Youth Orchestra also performing, as well as Manu Delago playing the hang (a UFO-shaped steel drum-like instrument). Manu is actually the percussionist on Bjork’s albums and tours with her all over the world, so it’s great to have him with us.”

“I’m excited about seeing the beautiful singer-songwriter Lior perform at the Old Museum on Saturday July 22 – it’s the perfect venue for people to hear his incredible compositions and of course his voice, which even after a decade of performing still blows you away. He hasn’t played his own songs solo in Brisbane in a really long time, and he’ll be joined by a string quartet to really give his orchestral folk-pop the depth it deserves. This is quite a rare treat and we’re delighted he’s been able to come perform for us.”

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You’re the Voice
The final event is our big landmark choral event, which is free for the public and being held at Suncorp Piazza. Throughout the day there’ll be pop-up choirs in the Southbank Parklands before the big event at the piazza at night, where the public will come together with professional choirs and musicians to raise our voices in song, united against domestic violence in Queensland. You can also join in online if you can’t make it down; we’ll be streaming the event in real time. I’ll be singing, as will Kate Ceberano, and over 2500 choralists.”

The Queensland Music Festival runs July 7–30 at venues across Brisbane and all around the state.