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Canberra International Music Festival

The Canberra International Music Festival presents a 10-day festival of classical and contemporary art music in May each year, with programming unique to our national capital.

CIMF’s artistic scope accommodates the breadth of the Western classical tradition – early and medieval music, baroque, classical, romantic, 20th Century and new music – alongside classical traditions from around the world, diverse Indigenous music, and the spectrum of contemporary art music.

Current Events

Past Events

  • 2023 Membership
    You can support the Canberra International Music Festival by renewing or becoming a member of Canberra International Music Festival LTD, the not-for-profit organisation that delivers 10 days of world class music at its annual festival.
    Ainslie Arts Centre
  • Friday 9 December 2022
    On the occasion of the International Day of Human Rights Canberra International Music Festival is pleased to invite vou to a piano recital by Roland Peelman, hosted by H.E. Mr. Michel Goffin, Ambassador of Belgium. The recital will be followed by a reception with drinks and light refreshments.
    Belgian Ambassador's Residence
  • Thursday 27 April 2023
    As one of Australia’s finest young pianists, Tony Lee already has a prodigious international track record. He was in residence at the Chapelle Musicale Reine Elisabeth in Belgium from 2014 to 2016 under the wings of Maria-João Pires and performed with a number of prominent orchestras in Europe, Asia and Australia. A highlight was the premiere of the new Gareth Farr Piano Concerto with the BBC Philharmonic. This solo appearance marks his debut at the festival. Festival Extra - Free lunchtime concert at the ANU Drill Hall Gallery. Please book a free ticket to register.
    Drill Hall Gallery
  • 2023 Festival Pass
    A Festival Pass gives you entry to all the concerts in the main program and priority seating at Fitters' Workshop. Join us as we paint a musical portrait of our contemporary world! From the wonder of a young Mozart and a Haydn, always young at heart, to the ancient songs of our First Nations singers. From the romance of Schumann and Chopin to some ribald jazz grooves of Aron Ottignon. Under the motto THE CHILD WITHIN, we invite you to listen to a new world as we enter the enchanted forest of our children’s imagination. Through the magic of music, we seek to find the child inside all of us.
    Fitters' Workshop
  • Friday 28 April 2023
    Marking ten years of the National Arboretum Canberra and 20 years since the devastating Canberra bush fires. A solo recital in the Margaret Whitlam Pavilion and a musical walk amongst the gardens, culminates in a new site-specific performance by Canberra’s own Australian Dance Party with music by Dan Walker. Festival artists include the Djinama Yilaga choir, rising star clarinettist Oliver Shermacher, and Flora and Theo Carbo for a celebration of life and new growth.
    National Arboretum Canberra
  • Friday 28 April 2023
    Book-ended by two great symphonies, showcasing the Australian Haydn Ensemble in full orchestral swing, the concert features some forgotten and even contested works by Michael Haydn and Leopold Mozart. A selection of glorious Mozart concert arias trace his dramatic aspirations from childhood through to the major operatic statements of adulthood.
    Fitters' Workshop
  • Saturday 29 April 2023
    Revered for their innovative collaborations and exceptional musicianship, the ensemble has performed thousands of concerts throughout the world and released more than 60 recordings since it formed in 1972. For this special occasion, the players have put together a most enjoyable selection of musical treats that demonstrate why Brodsky Quartet remains one of the world’s great string quartets.
    Fitters' Workshop
  • Saturday 29 April 2023
    As Paul Kelly sings so memorably: “From little things, big things grow”. This choral concert brings together young people from Canberra’s own singing community together with the Djinama Yilaga choir from the Yuin community down the coast. They sing about our home, our land, our sky, our people.
    Fitters' Workshop
  • Sunday 30 April 2023
    Considered one of Australia’s foremost Indigenous blues writers and performers, Marlene Cummins knows the Blues from an Aboriginal woman’s perspective. In the tradition of legendary blues women Big Mama Thornton and Bessie Smith, her story is one of vulnerability, strength and ultimately, survival.
    Fairfax Theatre, National Gallery of Australia
  • Sunday 30 April 2023
    The program unites two icons of the classical canon with Barton’s own music and the belated world premiere of Andrew Ford’s quartet written during the bush fires of late 2019. Bach’s Violin Sonata re-imagined by Brodsky and Schubert’s final string quartet represent a timeless musical statement of humanity united.
    Fitters' Workshop
  • Between Monday 1 May 2023 and Saturday 6 May 2023
    A series of five breakfasts at iconic Canberra institutions. Breakfast served between 8.30 and 9am, performance 9-9.25am, followed by ‘talk of the town’ 9.30-10am.
    Various venues
  • Monday 1 May 2023
    The Hungarian-Austrian composer György Ligeti wrote some of the most striking music of the late 20th century, made immortal through its connection with film, dance and theatre. Bringing the Festival inside the walls of the School of Music, this Ligeti anniversary event features the community of creative musicians fostered by the ANU School of Music. At noon, Andrew Ford presents György Ligeti: Clocks, Clouds, Fractals and Folk - open to the public. At 2pm the concert begins.
    ANU School of Music
  • Monday 1 May 2023
    The history of music is full of talented siblings. Flora and Theo Carbo, two young musicians out of the Melbourne jazz scene, surprised us all at the 2022 festival. They are jointly creating a new quartet for this sibling occasion.
    Fitters' Workshop
  • Tuesday 2 May 2023
    This year’s Festival trip takes us to Contentious Character - a cool-climate Canberra winery, set in the hills of Wamboin, just 30km east of Canberra for wine-tasting, lunch and two musical performances. Not only a taste of the beautiful countryside outside Canberra, but also a chance to relax and recover from the Festival’s exertions with the best things life has to offer - music included. Included bus transport - Departure 10.30am from Canberra's Inner South (address will be advised to those booked). Return time approximately 4.00pm.
    Contentious Character
  • Tuesday 2 May 2023
    Enter a world of wonder in this evening concert inspired by rustic folk tales and elf-like fantasy through the music of Schumann, Dvořák, Janáček and Kats-Chernin.
    Fitters' Workshop
  • Wednesday 3 May 2023
    Two extraordinary viola players capture a single beautiful space in the centre of Canberra and reveal the inner secrets of the viola. Once a maligned, even neglected instrument caught in the crossfire of violin, cello and piano, the instrument has enjoyed a true renaissance in more recent times. The three new Australian works featured in this event display the unusually expressive range of the viola as a solo instrument.
    Juliet Rooom, Verity Lane Market
  • Wednesday 3 May 2023
    Ukrainian born pianist Alexander Gavrylyuk travels the world playing with the best orchestras and the top maestros. In between tours to Latin America and UK, he returns to Canberra with a recital of romantic masterpieces. Expect a night of electrifying virtuosity bringing back memories of the legendary Horowitz, also born in Ukraine.
    Fitters' Workshop
  • Thursday 4 May 2023
    Mozart dedicated his lively String Quartet K.458, nicknamed ‘The Hunt’ for its boisterous first movement, to his friend, Joseph Haydn, the ‘father’ of the string quartet. Upon hearing Mozart’s quartets Haydn in turn was inspired to even greater heights. Hear Quatour Van Kuijk perform the music that prompted Haydn to declare Mozart the “greatest composer” he knew, alongside Haydn’s own String Quartet, Op.76. No. 5, written a little over ten years later, performed by Australia’s Alma Moodie Quartet.
    Juliet Room, Verity Lane Market
  • Thursday 4 May 2023
    Triggered by one of Berthold Brecht’s most poignant poems, Britten’s pacifist manifesto is a stark reminder of the impact of war on our children. Its message is sung by children: Canberra’s own Luminescence Children’s Choir. Next, Charles Perrault’s collection of 1697 contains many of most popular fairy tales, from Sleeping Beauty to Red Riding Hood. They inspired Ravel to write one of his most magical scores. The concert finishes with a recent rendition of a touching letter written by Sam Weiss’ great-grandmother to her little girl Nelly, as they were leaving Berlin in 1936.
    Fitters' Workshop
  • Friday 5 May 2023
    The High Court opens its doors again for music worthy of its lofty light-infused spaces. The glorious constructs of J.S. Bach, extolled by James Wannan on viola, meet the jazzy keyboard riffs of Aron Ottignon. They have more in common than meets the eyes: a musical order that is as seductive to the ear as it is satisfying to the mind.
    High Court of Australia
  • Friday 5 May 2023
    Between Schubert’s monumental Octet from 1824 and Igor Stravinsky’s classic Octet for wind instruments, a modern masterpiece by Danish composer Per Nørgård is sung by the eight voices of Luminescence Chamber Singers. Wie ein Kind (Like a Child), conveys innocence as much as sophistication in settings of poetry by Adolf Wölfli and Rainer Maria Rilke.
    Fitters' Workshop
  • Saturday 6 May 2023
    On 10 July 1940, 2546 men, ranging in age from 16 to 66, were herded aboard the Hired Military Transport Dunera at Liverpool and transported to Australia. Most were German or Austrian, and most were Jewish. Many had fled to Britain in the 1930s to escape Hitler’s Reich. After 57 days of voyage in appalling conditions the Dunera reached Australia and most of the passengers were sent to internment camps. Oswald von Wolkenstein, later known as ‘Ossie’ was one of the youngest of the Dunera Boys. Many years later he passed on a large folder of music written by Max-Peter Meyer specifically for the boys/men on the ship. The pieces were performed in the internment camp in Hay one year later. It includes a Mass, a Psalm setting and a piano quartet.
    Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture
  • Saturday 6 May 2023
    After acclaimed performances of Bartok and Haydn in 2022, the Alma Moodie Quartet returns to the festival with two muscular works from Russia’s past. The deeply felt Third String Quartet by Tchaikovsky is one of the greatest chamber music works from Tzarist Russia, written in memory of violinist Ferdinand Laub, who Tchaikovsky once described as “the best violinist of our time.” After the interval the quartet joins Edward Neeman for Gubaidulina’s Piano Quintet written five years after the death of Stalin at a time when composers were allowed to breathe again.
    Fitters' Workshop
  • Saturday 6 May 2023
    A candle-lit performance of Ukraine’s greatest song cycle starring Andrew Goodwin. The composer Valentin Silvestrov was forced to flee his home in Kyiv in early 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. From his new base in Berlin, he continues to represent his country’s cultural identity with quiet determination. Silent Songs is his most famous work, a song cycle set to timeless poetry by the likes of Pushkin, Shelley, Mandelstam and Keats. Sung by Australia’s most mellifluous tenor Andrew Goodwin with Roland Peelman at the piano, this performance will be an intimate statement about the power of poetry.
    Fitters' Workshop
  • Sunday 7 May 2023
    Following the international success of Stalin’s Piano, Sonya Lifschitz and Robert Davidson have created a new audio-visual work that tells the stories of women who have shaped our culture, our societies, our world. Including characters as diverse as Nina Simone, Marie Curie, Patti Smith, Dame Nellie Melba, Greta Thunberg, Aunty Delmae, Rachel Carson, Ethel Smyth, and Sonya's own Ukrainian grandmother, Davidson’s collage of voices frames language as ritualised music. Grafted upon the speech rhythm and intonation of his subjects, Davidson’s virtuoso piano music is combined with archival footage and Sonya’s own speaking voice.
    Fairfax Theatre, National Gallery of Australia
  • Sunday 7 May 2023
    Program to be announced.
    Fitters' Workshop
  • Order a copy of the book.
    Order a copy of the book "Roland Peelman" by Antony Jeffrey and Anthony Browell