The Bellingen Fine Music Festival’s acclaimed Music-By-Youth Project was initially the brainchild of young composer Andrew Batt-Rawden. The Project supports local young musicians, especially those studying HSC Music, through mentoring, performance in the Festival and participation in associated workshops. 

Lachlan Wilkins

Local primary and high school music students interact, learn and work with professional musicians and have public performances.  Now in its 6th year the project is partially funded by Camp Creative in memory of Peter Nance, a founder member of the Festival. 

Music-By-Youth is a terrific success.  Having the opportunity to work with outstanding ensembles such as the Acacia Quartet has been an invaluable experience for the HSC students involved.  Those graduating have all done extremely well in music for the HSC in New South Wales. For example, one student last year achieved 100% for his composition subject. Over sixty per cent of the participating HSC students are now studying music across Australia. Lachlan Wilkins, (pictured) for example, is now at the Brisbane Conservatorium under the tuition of Michele Walsh. He will be performing at the 2019 Fine Music Festival.

Evie Bacigulapo said of the project:  “Being involved in the music by youth project was a fantastic opportunity.  To be able to write music that was to be interpreted, performed and recorded by professional musicians gave me the creative freedom to write without being restricted by the ability of the players or the resources that I had access to. Recording my composition with the Acacia Quartet felt empowering for me as a musician and composer because I was in control of the music that was being produced and I was able to experience what it would be like to be working in that field.”  Before going on to further study, Evie spent a year tutoring young students in Bellingen.

The project has a number of components.


Secondary School string workshop with Acacia Quartet

The Acacia Quartet will again present string instrument workshops for primary school music students and for members of the Bellingen Youth Orchestra.  Festival attendees are invited to attend to listen and watch these workshops.  The Acacia Quartet will join members of the Bellingen Youth Orchestra String School in performance in the Youth and Exuberance Opening Concert of the Festival.  In 2018 renowned classical guitarist Karin Schaupp was a guest performer with the orchestra as part of the Project.


Students from Chrysalis Steiner School busking with teacher Liz Scott

Local musicians of all ages, but mainly primary school students, busk around town on the Saturday morning of the Festival and on other occasions around town.


2018 Bellingen High School students with teacher Ann Phelan and the Acacia Quartet at the 102.7 Fine Music Recording Studio, Sydney

Local students writing compositions for HSC submission who are writing for a string quartet have the opportunity to go to Sydney in late August to have their works performed by the Acacia Quartet and recorded for their HSC submission.  The Acacia Quartet then perform the student works in the opening concert.


2017 Composer Slam adjudicator, Elena Katz-Chernin, give feedback to one of the young composers

The Composer Slam is a fun and educational Fringe Event of the Festival. The Slam is for secondary school composition students and open for students of any kind of music. This year the Slam will be held in August. As in previous years, composer Paul Jarman will be the adjudicator. The students always appreciate the careful and supportive feedback they get from Paul about their compositions. He is known for his constructive work with school students, assisting them to develop their compositions.

Encouragement awards totalling $300 are made at the conclusion of the Slam.   All participants will receive complimentary passes to the weekend events of the Fine Music Festival. 

We are very proud of the fine young musicians of the Mid-North Coast and of our role, through the Music-by-Youth Project, in helping and supporting them and providing opportunities not only for them to perform in a professional setting, but also to have their compositions recorded and performed by a professional ensemble.

For more info on the Composer Slam and how to enter Click Here