ON THE ZA ZA ROAD: Sharing Chamber Music's Joys

The sounds of world-class chamber music are about to resonate across regional Queensland. As part of its commitment to access and community engagement, the Australian Festival of Chamber Music (AFCM) is hitting the road with its annual outreach tour.

Leading this year's regional circuit is the bright young Zaza Road Quartet from Brisbane. The ensemble of violinist Kevin Hsu, cellist Mya Whatson, clarinetist Nathanael Duffy and pianist Mai-Lien Olsson were students in the AFCM's International Masterclasses program just last year. Now, they're the ones inspiring the next generation.

"They are the perfect example of what we aim to do in both programs - to nurture young musicians, and to share music and pathways with North Queensland students through our Outreach Tour & Workshops Program," said AFCM Pathways Program Director Lloyd van't Hoff.

Throughout July and August, van't Hoff and the Zaza Road Quartet will perform free public concerts from Charters Towers to Ingham to Ayr, as well as in Townsville during the AFCM's main event from July 26-August 4. But it's about much more than just playing.

The tour will host workshops at secondary schools across the region, mentoring budding musicians and discussing career paths in an artform often overlooked outside major cities.

"We are hoping students of music and related studies will take part in the workshops," van't Hoff said. "We encourage everyone to come and watch our performances and talk to us about our respective careers and what's ahead, as well as how students in regional Queensland can pursue careers in music."

For the Zaza Road members, it's a full-circle experience after the AFCM's masterclasses expanded their own musical horizons just one year prior.

"We had the chance to play for, and work with world-class musicians of widely differing opinions. This greatly expanded our understanding and skills," Hsu shared with That Show Blog. "Now we are going on tour to share our experiences and love of music with regional Queensland students and music fans. It's very exciting."

The outreach initiative is made possible by long-time sponsor Wilmar Sugar, which has partnered with the AFCM for over a decade to bring arts access to rural communities.

"We know there is a wealth of musical talent in the regional communities of North Queensland," said Wilmar's Kylie Newman. "We hope the young people who attend the workshops are inspired to continue to pursue their music studies."

From masterclass students to touring artists, the Zaza Quartet's journey encapsulates the AFCM's passion for nurturing the next generation while using chamber music to unite communities near and far.

Dates for the FREE AFCM Outreach Tour concerts are:

Sunday 21 July, 4:00pm - Tyto Weylands, Ingham
Monday 22 July, 6:00pm - Burdekin Theatre, Ayr
Wednesday 24 July, 1:00pm - World Theatre, Charters Towers
Thursday 25 July, 5:30pm - James Cook University, Townsville-Gurambilbarra (Invitation Only)

More details: afcm.com.au