Meet the Masterminds Behind the Festival

The Queensland Music Festival was created to delight the senses and to light a fire of artistic expression. Its goal is to bring superb music to Queenslanders from all walks of life and all over this vast state.

My best memories included the two Rockhampton Choral Symphonies composed by Elena Kats Chernin to the words of Queensland poet Mark Svendsen commissioned by Queensland Music Festival and performed at the Rockhampton Botanical Gardens, The Mornington Island Dancers launching the Festival at dawn in Barcaldine and the Bach Cello Suites performed in Saint Stephen’s Cathedral, Brisbane in 1999.

I believe Queensland Music Festivals impact on the music culture of Queensland has been to gather diverse musical sensibilities into a meaning, as the great Queensland poet Judith Wright expressed in her poem “Five Senses”.

Now my five senses gather into a meaning all acts, all presences; and as a lily gathers the elements together, in me this dark and shining, that stillness and that moving, these shapes that spring from nothing, become a rhythm that dances, a pure design.


May the muse be with you!





20 Years of Music

1999 - 2019

A Homage To Our Queensland Music Festival Artistic Directors


Simone de Haan


1999 | Jazz Train, Rock on the Back of a Truck, Fire and Passion: The Drummers of Burundi.


Deborah Conway

2009 & 2011 Festivals

2009 | Cannot Buy My Soul, Laid in Earth, The Road We’re On, The Little Green Road to Fairyland

2011 | Ailan Kores, Meet Me In The Middle Of The Air, Behind The Cane, Piano Lessons


Lyndon Terracini

2001, 2003 & 2005 Festivals

2001 | Turangalila Symphony, Rockhampton Gardens Symphony

2003 | Bob Cat Dancing, Opera at Jimbour

2005 | Credo, Tristan and Isolde, Charters Towers – The Musical, Cooktown Corroboree – Gunbu Gunbu


James Morrison

2013 & 2015 Festivals

2013 | World’s Biggest Orchestra, Tambo – Heart Of An Open Country, Boomtown, Swingin’ Utes, Yarrabah Band Festival 

2015 | Keys To The City, Under The Sky, Mount Isa Celebrates


Paul Grabowsky

2007 Festival

2007 | Pig City, African Childrens Choir,
The Dream Catchers


Katie Noonan

2017 & 2019 Festivals

2017 | You’re the Voice, The Power Within, 16 Lover’s Lane, Hang with QYO, Carol Lloyd Award, Immersion, Currie Street Music Crawl 

2019 | Help is on its Way, Play Me I’m Yours, Frank and Fearless, The Mount Isa Blast, The Night Parrot, Mission Songs Project, Let Love Rule



Claire Booth


Prior to joining Queensland Music Festival as Executive Director, I held management positions in arts organisations including the Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra which toured extensively across regional Queensland. My understanding of regional communities and how they operate was enormously beneficial. I was extremely proud of the first festival, it exceeded all expectations and importantly, it positively touched the hearts and minds of numerous communities throughout Queensland.

My best moment was the performances by the Tuvan Throat Singers which was ethereal and breathtaking. I will never forget the performances by the Drummers of Burundi. Their music deeply affected me... I recall the rhythms and sounds pulsating through my body! 


Mounting a state wide music festival with only seven months lead time was both challenging and exhilarating. I was blown away by the generosity of spirit I encountered in the communities with whom I worked so closely. In the end, the opportunity to see and hear events that was as much about people, place and community cohesion as the music-making itself was nothing short of inspirational.

Deborah Conway


Queensland Music Festival gave me an opportunity to commission some truly grand schemes. Opening in 2009 with Hidden Republic & then Ailan Kores in 2011 were amongst many highlights. Cannot Buy My Soul, the songs of Kev Carmody to a packed Riverstage; being present as Elena Kats-Chernin composed & Rosetta Cook choreographed & brought to life The Little Green Road to Fairyland, an old favourite book from my childhood and seeing it continue to enjoy a creative life beyond its original production. To bring to Australia legends like Dan Hicks & Randy Newman.

So many great memories shared with my brilliant colleague, Erica Hart as we drove for days across and back the width and breadth of Queensland. Particularly memorable, the silence in the expansive outback between Charters Towers & Mount Isa; the way the scenery changed from tropic lushness to desert; the Winton landscape of towering red rock jutting out of flatness; the enormous starry skies over Charleville; the fresh lobster plucked from the Torres Strait waters.

It was a privilege to be at the levers of such a life affirming organisation that is so much more than a delivery system of events; to be able to bring the very best out of the communities in the regional and remote corners of Queensland and the joy that clearly brought to people’s lives is something remarkable.

Nigel Lavender


I am so grateful to have had the chance to lead Queensland Music Festival through 5 festivals, and so many other projects.


When Deborah Conway and I arrived in 2008, greeted only by Erica, Ken, and a wonderfully-supportive board led by Elizabeth Jameson, we had little idea what we were doing except there was an empty canvas captioned Queensland on which we could daub some paint. With a lot of luck, and some guidance from old hands, it started to come together.

In my first festival in 2009, nothing seemed impossible, so much so that when Deborah said let’s take an orchestra to Thursday Island with the Black Arm Band, the answer was not How? it was Why Not? When Cannot Buy My Soul sold out the Riverstage in the same festival, it felt like we were skiing down a slalom with perfect balance.

The heart of Queensland Music Festival remains story-telling through music; enabling communities to reflect on their own history, celebrate character and identity, and empowered to understand their origins and future. I pay tribute to all the artists and community participants who give breath and life to amazing projects throughout Queensland, and the incredible Queensland Music Festival team for their loyalty, skills, commitment and resilience.

Comm. Lyndon Terracini AM


For me Queensland Music Festival is a wonderful celebration of community music making, which fosters a love of music in people of all ages, connecting Queenslanders from Barcaldine to Cooktown and from Mount Isa to the Gold Coast.

I will always remember with great affection Bob Cat Dancing in Mount Isa, The Rockhampton Gardens Symphony and the Barcaldine Big Marimba Band.

I also remember how powerful Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie and Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde resonated with audiences and of course the inaugural Opera at Jimbour was a great and (for many people) surprising success.

The emotional friendships made with colleagues and audiences across the great state of Queensland will stay with me for the rest of my life and I have always felt that it was an enormous privilege to be the Artistic Director of what is now known as Queensland Music Festival. 

Happy Birthday Queensland Music Festival and I hope your joy of making music resounds throughout Queensland for many years to come!

James Morrison


What did I bring to the role of Artistic Director of Queensland Music Festival? Jazz, a sense of fun and lots of trumpet. My focus was on education and participation, I tried to keep most of the program very broad and inclusive, whilst still wanting to expose people to things they wouldn’t have heard, seen or done without Queensland Music Festival. During my time we broke world records, started a brass band in Far North Queensland and did a concert in the back of utes, all things that centred around my musician background, but were for everybody.


One of my best moments was watching our Executive Producer (Erica Hart) use a credit card to scrape ice off the wing of a plane in the pre-dawn light in Tambo, we couldn’t take off with the ice there and in a typically Queensland Music Festival (and Erica) way, she just got in there and did what had to be matter how outrageous it seemed – stuff like this happened a lot :-)

I learnt a lot about how wonderful things can be with the right team. Most of my working life had been in smaller teams (bands) and where I was always the band leader. At Queensland Music Festival we all worked together and really used the talents and input of everybody to create amazing things. I have still not seen anything like Queensland Music Festival, the scale, the reach and the legacy is not like any other music festival.

Katie Noonan


Since its inception, Queensland Music Festival has played an important role in my own evolution as an artist in Queensland.

As a young musician I was deeply inspired by Simone de Haan’s audacious vision and appetite for new music, which enabled me to discover the genius of Berio and his Laborintus II. 


During Lyndon Terracini’s tenure, his commissioning of the Before Time Could Change us song cycle (Grabowsky/Porter) in 2003 was a profound musical awakening and also lead to my first ARIA award as a soloist.  Paul Grabowsky enabled the performance of my Songs of Love and War concert that saw me singing alongside Vince Jones, and also working with extraordinary cellist Louise King.  In 2013, James Morrison enabled me to celebrate the genius of the Gibb Brothers in a duet with my childhood hero Tina Arena.


During my time as Artistic Director it has been such a privilege to create programs that help more Queenslanders to find their voices through music, from shining a light on the tremendous talent of artists from all over this great state, to large-scale participatory events that bring people from all walks of life together to experience the transformative power of music.




Jazz Train (Maryborough Longreach); Fire And Passion: The Drummers Of Burundi (Brisbane)


Bob Cat Dancing (Mount Isa); Gonzalo Rubalcaba/David Sanchez Quartet (Brisbane)


Pig City  (Brisbane); The Dream Catchers (Innisfail); Sunrise Voices with African Childrens Choir (Winton)


The Little Green Road to Fairyland (Brisbane); Drag Queensland  (Brisbane); Meet Me In The Middle Of The Air (Brisbane); Ailan Kores (Thursday Island); Behind The Cane (Bowen)


Keys To The City (Brisbane); Under This Sky (Logan); Mount Isa Celebrates: Symphony Of The Inland Sea (Mount Isa)


Opening Celebration (Barcaldine); The Rockhampton Gardens Symphony (Rockhampton)


Credo (Brisbane); Cooktown Corroboree: Gunbu Gunbu (Cooktown)


Cannot Buy My Soul  (Brisbane); Laid In Earth (Cooktown); The Road We’re On (Charleville)


Tambo: Heart Of An Open Country | Tambo); World’s Biggest Orchestra & Largest Trumpet Ensemble (Brisbane); Boomtown (Gladstone); Swingin’ Utes (Mount Isa)


You’re The Voice (Brisbane); The Power Within (Moranbah); Yarrabah Band Festival (Yarrabah)

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Queensland Music Festival 2019