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The central Victorian city of Bendigo isn’t your average regional Australian city. 

A beacon of arts, culture, fine food and wine, and incredible Gold Rush architecture, it’s always held its own against our larger cities. 

It’s no surprise, then, that the Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music (BIFEM) this week scooped a national award for excellence.

The festival, now in its seventh year, was honoured with the Award for Excellence in Experimental Music at the 2019 Art Music Awards in Sydney on Monday.

Music, art and culture connoisseurs will soon be able to experience this award-winning festival for itself, with the 2019 festival set to run from September 6 to 8. 

“BIFEM is for anyone with open ears and a curious temperament – which is basically anyone!” says BIFEM’s Founding Artistic Director David Chisholm.

“It’s a festival that doesn’t tell you how to listen, but is rather asking, how do you listen? 

“A lot of the first half of the 20th century was spent positioning newly composed music into settings that generally people felt you need to be an expert to understand. BIFEM resets this by getting out of the way of the performer and the audience.”



An impressive line-up of international artists will appear at this year’s BIFEM, drawn from across the globe.

Chisholm says acts to look out for include Ann Rosén and Sten-Olof Hellström from Sweden who he describes as “a fiercely interesting composer duo who both actively perform with and in each other’s works: working with knitted knee cuffs, graphite drawings, candles and electronics”.

“It’s wildly visceral work.” 

French cellist Severine Ballon and New Zealand Hurd gurdy performer Kerian Varaine are also name-checked by Chisholm as highlights, as are several Australian acts.

“Sydney’s The Music Box Project is going to be a highlight and our own in house roster Argonaut has two great concerts and the ever present always exciting Argonaut String Quartet,” he enthuses. 

All events will be held in the renowned Bendigo Arts Precinct – Victoria’s largest arts and culture destination outside Melbourne.

The precinct includes the Bendigo Art Gallery, one of the country’s oldest, largest art and most visited galleries. 

Chisolm said most BIFEM events would be free or low cost, in a boon to music fans who can experience one of the world’s best art music events right here in Australia.

“While exploratory and new concert music is a globally fragmented community, it is a very active and engaged one, and so the first weekend in September – now seven years in – is globally recognised as BIFEM weekend.”

The 2019 BIFEM Festival will run from Friday, 6 September to Sunday, 8 September at the Bendigo Arts Precinct. For full details of events visit the official website www.bifem.com.au.

For information about more attractions in and around Bendigo, as well as accommodation options, visit bendigoregion.com.au.

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