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Bon Appetit! The 2024 Australian Festival of Chamber Music

AFCM ARTISTIC DIRECTOR JACK LEIBECK in glorious Townsville in North Queensland
Bon Appetit! The 2024 Australian Festival of Chamber Music is a musical degustation in the North

What’s Happening?

With two world premieres, the return of Stephen Johnson, Piers LaneRoderick Williams, Lotte Betts-Dean and Brett Dean, the official farewell of the Goldner String Quartet, the debut of cellist and conductor, Umberto Clerici and 13 other artists, and more Guilty Pleasures, the Australian Festival of Chamber Music in Townsville-Gurambilbarra is a musical degustation full of flavour.

Also, keep scrolling to the bottom to see some epic local spots to dine, sip and eat while the festival is in town.


The Australian Festival of Chamber Music (AFCM) returns from July 26 to August 4 in Townsville-Gurambilbarra with a sensory feast for the ears, offering a musical degustation that promises to delight connoisseurs of chamber music from across the world.

AFCM Artistic Director Jack Liebeck has curated an auditory banquet of classic and new music, featuring some of the most famous composers in history, alongside music mixologists of the modern era. Contributing to this flavoursome musical journey are more than 35 artists including 10 international artists, 20 Australian artists and 5 ensembles, with 14 artists making their AFCM debut.

Jack invites music lovers of all genres to whet their appetite and enjoy the music line-up, below.

The Music Lineup

1. Aperitif: Opening Night Concert: Festival Feelings
Date: July 26, 2024
Time: 7:30 PM
Venue: Townsville Civic Theatre

The festival begins with a sparkling overture in the form of the Opening Night Concert. It will be an exhilarating mix of beloved chamber works and contemporary pieces, akin to a fine champagne that awakens the senses and sets a celebratory tone for the Festival.


2. Entrée: Sunset Series 1: Spanish Sunset
Date: July 27, 2024
Time: 5:00 PM
Venue: Townsville Civic Theatre

An early evening concert reminiscent of a flavourful entrée, evoking the warmth and passion of Spain, the lively rhythms and captivating melodies of Spanish Sunset are a perfect prelude to the musical banquet ahead.


3. Entrée 2: Sunday Morning Church Concert: Discovering Music with Stephen Johnson
 July 28, 2024
Time: 11:00 AM
Venue: St James’ Cathedral

Famed UK musicologist Stephen Johnson returns for his second year at AFCM, hosting a discovery of chamber music’s inner beauty with performances of Brahms’ Horn Trio and Ravel’s Piano Trio.


4. Palate Cleanser: Concert Conversations 2 with Jack Liebeck
Date: July 29, 2024
Time: 10:00 AM
Venue: The Ville Resort-Casino

After a sweet and savoury burst of musical Guilty Pleasures, the morning program offers a mix of light classical music and informal discussions with the artists, providing an enjoyable introduction to the day’s offerings, like a refreshing fruit sorbet!


5. First Course: Evening Concert 1: Melodious Monday (includes a world premiere)
 July 29, 2024
Time: 7:30 PM
Venue: Townsville Civic Theatre

Enjoy the seldom-heard Grand Septet by Franz Berwald, Stephen Johnson’s new work Unquiet Sleepers, Xenakis’ Psappha, and Franck’s Piano Quintet, in an evening akin to a gourmet indulgence.


6. Second Course: Evening Concert 2: Wonderful World – Christian-Pierre La Marca and AYO Momentum
 July 31, 2024
Time: 7:30 PM
Venue: Townsville Civic Theatre

Hear French cellist Christian-Pierre La Marca and the AYO Momentum ensemble explore music’s power to inspire and awaken. This concert, featuring impactful imagery from Yann Arthus-Bertrand and a nature-focused theme, will be a profound and emotive experience, a powerful humanistic ode to nature.


7. Third Course:  Sunset Series 5: Purcell – A Selection from The Fairy-Queen
 August 1, 2024
Time: 5:00 PM
Venue: Townsville Civic Theatre

Savour Purcell’s The Fairy-Queen, performed by Donald Nicolson, Lotte Betts-Dean, and AYO Momentum. This concert will bring to life enchanting music loosely based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.


8. Fourth Course: Musical Transfigurations
Date: August 2, 2024
Time: 7:30 PM
Venue: Townsville Civic Theatre

A hearty main course starring the profound and complex flavours of Mahler and Schoenberg. This concert will be rich in emotional depth and musical sophistication.


9. Dessert: Sunset Series 6: Distant Beloved (World Premiere)
 August 3, 2024
Time: 5:00 PM
Venue: Townsville Civic Theatre

The concert begins with Beethoven’s song cycle An die ferne Geliebte (To the Far Away Beloved), followed by the world premiere of Roderick Williams’ Not Yet Here, his response cycle set to Rommi Smith’s poetry performed by Lotte Betts-Dean with Itamar Golan on piano accompaniment. A perfect musical dessert!


10. Digestif: Closing Night Concert – Festival Farewell
Date: August 3, 2024
Time: 7.30 PM
Venue: Townsville Civic Theatre

This will be a farewell to remember – closing the Festival for another year and experiencing the Goldner String Quartet for their final time at AFCM.  The repertoire includes a special arrangement of Bach Concerto BWV 1053r for vibraphone and strings, followed, rather fittingly at this troubling time, by Ruth Schonthal’s A Bird Flew Over Jerusalem in which she imagines a humanised bird flying over the city.  Then, the joyous Mendelssohn String Sinfonia, and to celebrate the Goldners, Tchaikovsky’s truly breath-taking String Quartet No.1. 



1. Jam Corner

1 Palmer St, South Townsville QLD 4810

An award-winning restaurant that provides a taste of North Queensland in a warm and welcoming setting. A local’s favourite, Jam likes to explore regional produce and create contemporary cuisine without compromising the purity of flavour.


2. Bridgewater Q

2/2 Dibbs St, Townsville City QLD 4810

A relaxed and stylish oasis set in the heart of Townsville with unsurpassed river and city views. A quality, modern dining experience.


3. Miss Songs Asian Kitchen

The Ville, 67 Sir Leslie Thiess Dr, Townsville City QLD 4810

Surrender your senses to Asian fine dining with a modern, tropical Queensland twist. Start with traditional Chinese cuisine, soak in some inspiration from all over Asia, and combine it with the finest fresh produce that Townsville and its surrounding regions has to offer.


4. Ardo Rooftop

45 Sir Leslie Thiess Dr, Townsville City QLD 4810

A place where the rhythm of the sun rules, and the rules don’t matter. Refreshments on repeat and a fresh seasonal menu with views to the horizon that just won’t end.


5. Marmor

Ardo® Hotel, Sir Leslie Thiess Drive, Townsville QLD 4810

Marmor is a celebration of the country’s finest produce: prime cuts of beef from Australia’s most renowned cattle producers; abundant treasures fresh from the warm waters off the rugged coastline; and the best seasonal ingredients the region has to offer. Fine dining at its best.


6. Terasu

Ardo® Hotel, Sir Leslie Thiess Drive, Townsville QLD 4810

With the bright lights of Tokyo as its muse, Terasu has created a lively take on casual Japanese dining that packs a punch.


7. A Touch of Salt

86-124 Ogden St, Townsville City QLD 4810

Founded and operated by a local Townsville family, A Touch of Salt has superb modern Australian dishes served in relaxed yet polished surrounds with expansive outdoor seating.


8. Shorehouse

118 The Strand, North Ward QLD 4810

Modern Asian grazing style restaurant with views across Cleveland Bay to Magnetic Island. Focusing on fresh locally sourced produce with intention to share. Sit and watch the world go by on the glorious deck, or in the casual lounge dining.


9. Gyo Japanese Tapas Bar Restaurant

2/48 Gregory St, North Ward QLD 4810

An authentic Japanese experience, Gyo offers a diverse menu that caters to lovers of Japanese cuisine, focusing on sushi and other traditional dishes.


10. Donna Bionda

385/373 Flinders St, Townsville City QLD 4810

Donna Bionda is located in Townsville’s vibrant City Lane and proudly crafts authentic Italian Pizza and other tasty Italian dishes.


11. Watermark Townsville

72-74 The Strand, North Ward QLD 4810

Known for its popular menu, fresh seafood and superb location opposite the beach, Watermark is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, celebrating the best of North Queensland to locals and visitors alike.


12. C Bar

80 Gregory Street Headlands, Townsville, QLD, Australia, Queensland

C Bar is perched on the coral sea with absolute waterfront views of the iconic magnetic island making it a popular spot all year round. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.


Book tickets here 👇

Australian Festival of Chamber Music

26 July to 4 August 2024 in Townsville (Gurambilbarra), North Queensland

Concert tickets, Festival passes and holiday packages on sale NOW | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | #afcm

AFCM principal partners include Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland and Arts Queensland, and Townsville City Council. The Australian Festival of Chamber Music is supported by the Queensland Government, through Tourism and Events Queensland. The Queensland Government supports the Australian Festival of Chamber Music (AFCM) through Arts Queensland.