ACT News


Canberra's National Folk Festival begins international journey for budding star Monique Clare

Rising folk musician Monique Bartkowiak spent double for the flight to Canberra's National Folk Festival when she paid for a seat to carry her cello. 

It was worth it after she won the Folk Alliance Australia Young Performer of the Year award on Sunday, an accolade that drew hugs from passing friends as she later walked around the festival grounds. 

Looking for a place to talk after the win, she joked that she liked taking her cello for walks. 

"It's really timely this has happened now, as I'm at a point now where I can hit the ground running," she said.

The 23-year-old will take the instrument much further soon. Only three months after starting her first solo project, Bartkowiak - who performs under the name Monique Clare - will be mentored and flown to Kansas for an international conference.

Having finished her studies and learnt through previous musical projects, she's ready to launch into the industry. 


The Brisbanite is on a quiet mission to make the cello a folk instrument, after falling in love with the music world celebrated at the five-day Canberra festival. 

"You can't step into this scene without falling in love with it," she said. 

"There's so many people who are passionate."

Organisers say numbers are up this year as the long weekend's weather encouraged people to come at the last minute.

Children danced to folk music on pavements, performed on violins and cellos, and painted murals at EPIC as the Folk Festival continued on Sunday. 

A full Lyric Theatre tent housed a crowd listening to Melbourne brass group The Bean Project play the french horn, double bass, and trombone.

The festival, drawing more than 46,000 people so far this year, is one of Bartkowiak's favourite places. 

"Every time I get to bed back at the camp site, I'm like, 'wow, do I have to go home?'"