The late Peter Nance, then President of Camp Creative, a community organization dedicated to the promotion and development of creativity, founded the Bellingen Music Festival in 2010. The Festival, more recently known as the Bellingen Fine Music Festival, had been held annually and is a major and highly anticipated event in the cultural calendar of the NSW Mid-North Coast.
The Festival has a strong reputation for its high quality and innovative program and is achieving its vision to be a significant regional music festival in the Australian calendar, presenting high quality music from differing classical traditions and performed by a diversity of established, emerging and local artists.
In past years the Festival has presented marvelous performers like the shakuhachi master Riley Lee, tango group Tangalo and the collaborative Indian-Spanish ensemble Rasa Duende. Last year’s performers included the Taikoz Quartet.
Over the years and partially through the growing Fringe program, the Festival’s repertoire has been successfully widened to include not only the many types of classical music, but also contemporary jazz and world music.
The aim has been to make the Festival a truly enjoyable event, recognising that people enjoy different kinds of musical experiences when it comes to ‘fine’ music, and to our delight, audiences grew year by year.
Five years ago the Festival committee felt that calling it the Bellingen Music Festival was too restrictive, (and also led to confusion following the arrival of what is now known as Bello Winter Music) so the word ‘Fine’ was added. Fine has become an accepted term in classical circles in recent years, and allows for other related genres to be included, which has helped the Festival establish its own distinct media image. As long as the playing (or singing) is of an exceptionally high standard it can qualify as Fine Music.
The Festival has flourished because of the support of the community, support in kind as well as financial support from the Bellingen Shire Council, Camp Creative and the Regional Arts Fund as well as from many local businesses such as Planet Lighting and Windsong Travel.