Director Ben Opie has shaped a program that reflects his own innovative musicality and artistic practice of keeping classical music connected and relevant. In one of many festival highlights the acclaimed Australian Haydn Ensemble, a fine Australian orchestra and chamber music group, makes its Victorian debut.  The ensemble specialises in music of the Classical era performed on historical instruments and the ensemble’s concert for Peninsula Summer Music Festival 2019 showcases five of its exceptional musicians: Skye McIntosh (violin), Simone Slattery (violin), James Eccles (viola), James Bush (cello) and Melissa Farrow (flute).

Other highlights include: the Spanish infused evening with special guest Aria award-winning soprano Sara Macliver performing Boccherini and Mozart in a concert built around Boccherini’s exquisite Stabat Mater accompanied by Australian Haydn Ensemble under the marquee at St John’s Church, Flinders; renowned acoustic performer, James Henry, who has performed as a guitarist with Black Arm Band and Archie Roach, brings the beauty of voice, guitar and his pure, laid back style to the St John’s Church marquee stage whilst The Hoodangers bring their skill and sheer energy to the jazz art form under the summer sky at the stunning Montalto Estate in the festival favourite, Twilight Jazz.

As well as an extended musical program, the 2019 Festival broadens art forms, collaborations, territory borders and introduces new venues.  Audiences are invited to immerse themselves in a visual art and music experience within the iconic Whistlewood Art Gallery for Song & Story with cellist Stephanie Arnold in collaboration with local indigenous visual artists; bathe in the world famous Peninsula Hot Springs while listening to Bach or electronic, string and instrumental soundscapes across four concerts and wander the shores at Pelican Park in a free musical promenade.

Sweet Love Doth Now Invite features two of Australia’s classical music treasures Marshall McGuire and Sara Macliver at the architecturally stunning Port Phillip Estate in Red Hill. McGuire’s magical harp couples with Macliver’s serene soprano voice to present works by Handel, Mozart, Ravel and Purcell as well as gems from the Australian repertoire by Carl Vine and Peggy Glanville-Hicks.

In the hallowed walls of St Mark’s Anglican Church in Balnarring, Inventi Ensemble brings together Australia’s leading musicians including Ben Opie, to present a concert of Mozart’s virtuosic ‘Church Sonatas’, paired with Wagenseil’s brilliant Concerto for Organ performed by Peter de Jager. True to form, Inventi reinvents these works branding these iconic compositions with their own boundary obliterating style.

On January 3rd Cruden Farm opens the farm gates for a world of adventure for young children aged 6+ with Ad Lib Collective artists’, Thea Rossen and Jesse Deane, taking them on a water-filled sensory experience in the drip, drop, play. The following day, Balnarring’s St Mark’s Anglican Church plays host to Kids Carnival, an afternoon of singing, percussion instruments, dancing, games and instrument making with Clare Zabrowarny, Inventi Ensemble and Ad Lib Collective. 



Classic Melbourne’s Associate Editor, Heather Leviston, referred to Ben Opie as “a player of uncommon refinement” in a review in 2015; we also reviewed a CD featuring him in 2014:

The Australian Haydn Ensemble’s Victorian debut includes a concert with Sara Macliver on the 5th of January. According to our colleagues at, who reviewed the AHE’s debut album in 2016, it “has broad appeal but will be of special interest to purists”. Review link:

Classic Melbourne first wrote of Marshall McGuire as a collaborator with Greta Bradman in 2012, and we have followed Mr McGuire’s musical strength with interest. More recently, a new reviewer, Julie McErlain, was enthused by Mr McGuire’s direction of Dido & Aeneas by Purcell:

Editor Suzanne Yanko and other Classic Melbourne reviewers have taken a keen interest in Sara Macliver’s career. Most recently, Classic Melbourne published a review by Margaret Arnold which highlights Ms Macliver as a “versatile soprano, well-known for her Baroque concert repertoire, as well as opera, concert and festival performances, and recordings.” Margaret’s entire review can be found here:


Editor’s note:  All material relating to the Peninsula Festival was supplied by festival organisers.

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