The Festival Opening Gala of the 2023 Canberra International Music Festival (CIMF) presented a symphonic feast from three of the 18th century’s most prominent musical families. The Bach, Haydn and Mozart families had their strong musical lineages on full display in this concert.

The performers were the Australian Haydn Ensemble (AHE) directed by Skye McIntosh, featuring Andrew Goodwin (tenor), Jacqueline Porter (soprano) and conducted by CIMF director Roland Peelman.

After introductions from the chair of the CIMF Genevieve Jacobs, and the ACT Arts Minister Tara Cheyne, who declared the festival open, the 20-plus strong AHE, almost all standing, blasted out JC Bach’s, Symphony Op. 6, No. 6 in G minor. This stormy work is a concentrated symphony, perfect for a gala concert opening.

Even when heard from the very last row in the Fitters’ Workshop, AHE created a spectacular sound. This is attention-grabbing music, where, even in the slow movement, the rhythms and dynamics drive the work forward. The storm of music in the last movement crashes and bursts with energy. In the 1800s this must have overwhelmed audiences.

Andrew Goodwin, Roland Peelman, Jacqueline Porter and members of the Australian Haydn Ensemble. Photo...