Four Winds Festival set to blow audiences away

Paul Dean, Artistic Director, Four Winds Festival. Photo: Four Winds.

Paul Dean, Artistic Director, Four Winds Festival. Photo: Four Winds.

Paul Dean, Artistic Director of the Four Winds Festival, spills the beans on what’s in store for 2016.

So for any newbies out there, what is the Four Winds Festival all about?

Four Winds is about experiencing fabulous music – performed by international and Australian artists – in one of the most spectacular outdoor performance spaces in the Country.  Two core days, Easter Saturday and Sunday are surrounded by concerts and events in and around Bermagui, including the debut chamber music concert series in the new Windsong Pavilion at the Four Winds festival site.  All this accompanied by fabulous locally sourced food….

What can an audience member expect to see and experience at the 2016 festival? How does this differ from previous years?

There is more than ever before.  A program of free events in and around Bermagui on good Friday culminating with a free performances of Glass’ ‘Music with Moving Parts’ at the Festival site – performed by Ensemble Offspring and Bega based physical theatre company FLiNg.  We have three house concerts in beautiful local homes and as mentioned the new Chamber music series in the Windsong Pavilion which was recently heralded has having one of the finest acoustics in Australia.

What has lead you to this moment, becoming the Artistic Director of Four Winds?

I became involved with Four Winds through both professional and personal connections.  Through my role at the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM), Four Winds and the Academy created a professional development program for ANAM students.  When the opportunity came about to lead the Festival I was really excited to build a closer relationship with this amazing organisation and the people who lead it.

There is a nice balance of internationals and local talent, how did the program come together

One of the great privileges of my life as a professional musician and composer is that I regularly collaborate with other artists at home and abroad, many of these collaborators become friends and colleagues.  As the Director of the Festival it is wonderful to be able to draw on the talents of my contacts throughout the music world, and to offer them the chance to perform in a new context and to explore new collaborations.  If the Festival didn’t appeal to them from an artistic point of view it would be very hard to persuade them to give up what is almost a week of their time.  I’m delighted that we also have students from Sydney Youth Orchestra (SYO) and ANAM actively engaged – it’s a great thrill to think that they will be learning from some of the world’s finest musicians.

What is your top 3 hit list for the festival?

In no particular order…

I’m passionate about new work so I’m very excited that we have commissioned James Ledger – his new work The Natural Church will be premiered on Easter Sunday – it is always great for a Festival audience to experience something new together.

Jack Liebeck performing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto will be a real highlight.

I’m really looking forward to performing and will be playing in Messiaen Quartet for the End of Time in the Windsong Pavilion as well as Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue – the final work performed on Easter Sunday….its such a great piece for a clarinettist!

Soundshell, Four Winds Festival site. Photo: Four Winds.

Soundshell, Four Winds Festival site. Photo: Four Winds.

What do you love about Bermagui, and what makes it different from other regional towns in NSW?

Bermagui is exceptional and you can feel that there is a tangible energy in the town around the arts, great food and an entrepreneurial spirit – from Fisherman’s Wharf to Four Winds.  The landscape and coast is beautiful and truly inspiring.  All these things combine to create a place quite unlike anywhere.

How does Four Winds contribute to regional NSW innovative arts and cultural landscape? Is it having a positive influence on the future of music and the arts in the region?

Four Winds is moving from being largely a biennial Festival to a year round program of work.  Its program embraces the development of new work, artist development, engaging the community as participants and audiences and creating the opportunity for other promoters to present work in fabulous surroundings.  The organisation has commissioned almost 30 new works and Genevieve Lacey’s work which is currently installed in Vaucluse House in Sydney as part of the Festival was recorded in the Windsong Pavilion.  Four Winds recognises that space to develop new work is essential, and in short supply, so the opportunities provided to local and national artists to develop work will, without a doubt have an impact on Australian music in the region and nationally.  It is also bringing a multitude of new opportunities for young people to engage in wonderful musical experiences – Bermagui Primary School have just recorded the Wetlands Song – written with members of the Wallaga Lake community…all enabled by Four Winds.

Windsong Pavilion. Photo: Four Winds.

Windsong Pavilion. Photo: Four Winds.

The Four Winds Festival’s Windsong Pavilion is an outstanding example of contemporary cultural infrastructure, what impact has the pavilion had on access, community engagement and more broadly the visitor economy?

The Windsong Pavilion is an exceptional resource and allows Four Winds to work all year round.  The Pavilion is attracting artists to record and create work because of its acoustic and inspirational setting; the String Contingent will record their new album there in April.  The Pavilion is an important new performance space in which local promoters can present their work – Zephers Jazz recently promoted The Vampires.  Four Winds recently welcomed Richard Gill to Bermagui to work with teachers and music leaders and has partnered with Music Viva to present a vocal workshop weekend with Lisa Young.  The Four Winds Festival attracts an interstate and international audience to the region – there is no doubt that the Windsong Pavilion will build on this loyal audience who love coming to Bermagui.  Four Winds commitment to ensuring online content will ensure that audiences who can’t physically get to Bermagui will be able to engage with the live program.  There’s no doubt that Four Winds is contributing to bringing visitors, in their thousands, to Bermagui – particularly at Easter.  Four Winds is a major reason people come to Bermagui and as the year round program develops and matures this can only increase.


Arts NSW provides annual program funding support to Four Winds through the Arts and Cultural Development Program (ACDP). For more information about Annual Program funding, please click here.

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