Like many beautiful things, Four Winds began as an idea fuelled by passion.
This is a place that musicians dream of… beautiful, unspoilt, developed with such sensitivity… where the audience wants you to experiment and demands you play at your best, and play with them. We want to spread this around the world!
In the late 80s, writer, philanthropist and Barragga Bay resident Neilma Gantner gathered friends and neighbours in her library to talk about an idea – to bring high quality music, performed in the open air, to the local, coastal community.
The Barragga Bay land is offered for use by the Four Winds Festival by Neilma’s son, actor Carrillo Gantner. Architect Hans Hallen designs three grass terraces looking over the dam to a natural amphitheatre and stage.
The first presentation of the Four Winds Easter Festival with Michael Brimer as Artistic Director (1991 – 1993).
The second Easter Festival takes place which includes Indigenous performers and participation by Umbarra community members and artists.
Carrillo Gantner and writer Rodney Hall are Artistic Directors of the Easter Festival for remainder of 90s.
A marquee style cover is added to the stage area, however all catering and toilets etc are still being brought in from outside.
The Easter Festival moves to every second year. 2000, 2002, 2004 co-directed by Carrillo Gantner and Rodney Hall.
Neilma Gantner establishes the Four Winds Foundation in order to raise funds for the ongoing production of festivals and for beautification of the site.
The first ‘Friends of Four Winds’ event takes place at composer Peter Sculthorpe’s home in Sydney, the organisation’s first event outside Bermagui. From this event a group was formed setting out to commission new Australian works.
Sheena Boughen becomes Chair of Board, and Chris Latham Artistic Director of the festival. Education and Outreach programs are created in order to foster connection with local community. A concerted drive for funds begins, looking to create ‘Nature’s Concert Hall’.
Peter Sculthorpe Quartet played in Four Winds’ first ever outreach program to schools.
Modern Turkish group from New York, Omar Farouk comes to Bermagui. At the end of the second day, the entire audience jumped to their feet and danced, a reaction not seen before at the Easter Festival.
The Four Winds Festival is finalist for Limelight Magazine’s ‘Best Festival in Australia’ Award. Chris Latham Artistic Director.
An evening feast takes place under the stars on Saturday evening at the top of the hill, for all artists and the community. Terry Riley performs for diners at this year’s event.
ABC Classic FM records the entire festival for broadcast nationally, the first time the festival has been heard by an audience outside the venue.
Fund raising for Nature’s Concert Hall is doing well. Genevieve Lacey is Artistic Director of this year’s festival. Four Winds wins APRA/AMC Art Music Award for Excellence in a Regional Area.
Black Arm Band along with (now Dr) Lou Bennet performs, a collaboration instigated by Genevieve Lacey, signalling a deeper relationship with Indigenous artists.
In Bermagui, artist Paolo Pandolfo plays his Viola da Gamba on a man-drawn cart, travelling through the free community concert audience of 1500 people, to a complete hush.
After a huge downpour during a performance, Carrillo Gantner stops the music and asks the audience if they want the concert to be held over, or go on. 1,000 people put up umbrellas and donned raincoats and on the concert went. The commitment of the Four Winds audiences was realised!
Inspiring 2011, with partner Sydney Children’s Choir, and The Singing Stones programs commence as Four Winds increases its community engagement through music.
The new Sound Shell is unveiled at Easter Festival.
Relationship with ANAM commenced, giving city and elite artists an opportunity for regional experience. Paul Dean and AURIC quartet and others began coming to us in Bermagui, rather than having to send our students to the city to participate and perform.
Opening of Windsong Pavilion dedicated to Neilma Gantner. A powerful and memorable ‘Welcome to Country’ is given with performances from workshops by Shellie Morris. Paul Kildea AD.
Margaret Throsby stands by in wonder as Cellist Giovanni Sollima creates sensation as he strips off his shirt and plays to an amazed crowd, including Richard Tognetti (ACO), and Croatian pianist Dejan Lazic who were also on stage with Ms Throsby.
Four Winds founder, friend and philanthropist Neilma Gantner dies at the age of 92. The Bermagui Project is launched.
First, and current, Executive Director appointed – David Francis.
Sheena Boughen stands down as Chair, and is awarded Arts Leadership Award. Michael Darling becomes Chair of Four Winds Inc. Paul Dean is Artistic Director. The Festival is short listed for APRA/AMC Arts Music Award. James Crabb appointed Artistic Director.
Deborah Cheetham’s composition Mother Mountain, is performed with Indigenous children from local schools, part of the growing Four Winds Songbook.
Musicians in Schools program commences. Annual Spring Youth Music Festival commences. Lisa Young is director and creates songs for Youth Festival. Easter Festival becomes an annual event once more.
The Lady Jane free community event takes place on Bermagui Oval, and several house concerts take place throughout the region. The Easter Festival is nominated for the international Classical:NEXT Innovation Award.
Appointment of Cheryl Davison as Aboriginal Creative Producer. The project Bagan|Barra Barra|Mirriwar (Land, Sea, Sky) commences supported by the National Museum of Australia. The Djinama Yilaga Koori Women’s Choir creates songs in Dhurga Language along with composer Dr Lou Bennet.
After horrible Summer bushfires, and lockdowns due to Covid-19, the Easter Festival is cancelled. Lindy Hume is appointed Artistic Director of Easter Festivals for 2021 & 2022. The Festivals’ 21st Birthday celebrations held over to 2021. Filming commences for videos for the four songs created by Dr Lou Bennet and the Djinama Yilaga Choir. Bagan|Barra Barra|Mirriwar (Land, Sea, Sky) songs are: Ganbi (Fire), Walawaani (Welcome & Safe Journey), Tuku & Ngardi, and Our Way.
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