Welcome to festival season folks! Fringe World is underway and the Perth International Arts Festival is about to launch. Here’s my overview of the classical feast about to erupt!

On Saturday 4th February (tonight!) WA Opera celebrates its 50th anniversary with a gala Opera in the Park,  8pm Langley Park.

Also that night the Fringe World lieder recital Dream of Childhood’s End featuring Eva-Marie Middleton and a whole pile of soft toys which I reviewed on Thursday night.

The opening night of PIAF is Friday 10th February which is the first night of the intriguing The Dark Mirror, a re-imagining of Schubert’s Winterreise with tenor Ian Bostridge accompanied by the WA Symphony Orchestra, video imagery and a wintry stage setting.

On Saturday 11th Soft Soft Loud returns to the Fremantle Arts Centre this time featuring US electro-acoustic composer William Brittelle and songsmith countryman Aaron Roche collaborating with WA instrumentalists in a brand new composition.

The Brodsky and Calder Quartets combine in a program of octets on the 16th, which will be a stunning preview to the chamber music weekend. The chamber music weekend is an incredible line up of talent, dominated by string quartets and in particular the Brodsky Quartet performing Shostakovich’s complete string quartets (yes that’s 15 quartets across 3 days!). The LA-based Calder Quartet perform three different programs based around the theme Beethoven and Beyond. The Australian String Quartet teams up with new kids on the block Arcadia Winds for two programs of rare music for wind and strings, including the world premiere of a new work by Lachlan Skipworth.

The weekend also includes some free concerts including a recital by Tamara-Ann Cislowska of the piano works of Peter Sculthorpe, plus a duo session with Elena Kats-Chernin performing Kats-Chernin’s stunning compositions from their award-winning album Butterflying. And just to mix it up there are two Classic Flow Yoga sessions to ease people into the morning with 90 minutes of yoga accompanied by live music.

Musica Viva jumps on the PIAF band wagon on Feb 20th with American super-group Eighth Blackbird performing an entire concert of contemporary classical music – hooray! (This makes up for the dearth of contemporary repertoire last year.) One of the six composers featured is a woman, which isn’t great statistically but it is the Aussie Holly Harrison which almost makes up for it.

To celebrate festival time PIAf is selling $36 tickets from Monday 6th February so keep an eye on their website.

I’m also going to make mention of the Perth Writer’s Festival from Feb 23-26 including the kid friendly Family Day on Sunday 26th.

So there it is, dive into February and enjoy!