The $20 million Snow Concert Hall will rival the great concert halls of the world, attracting renowned artists to Canberra, its new artistic director Ana de la Vega believes.
Ms de la Vega, also one of the world's best classical flautists, will perform with the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra on May 20 at the hall, which is part of the Canberra Grammar School, to celebrate the opening of the facility to the broader public.
Canberra businessman Terry Snow in 2019 gifted $20 million to his alma mater to build the 1400-seat concert hall, which has been constructed under the 94-year-old school's quadrangle.
The facility was always planned to be shared with the wider community and, with COVID-enforced building delays behind it, the concert hall is now opening to the public by staging an International Concert Series, starting with Ms de la Vega (May 20) and continuing with pianist Piers Lane (June 29) and Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (August 17 and 18).
Ms de la Vega, who grew up on a farm in Kiama and has returned to Australia after 16 years performing on stages around the world, said she was also excited each performer would give masterclasses or stage open rehearsals as part of their visits to Canberra.
She hopes it will all help to inspire the next generation of musicians.
"When I decided to be a flautist, I'd never seen a flute," she said.
"I came from a non-musical family. I'd never been to a concert hall. I'd never seen an orchestra."
The turning point was when she heard a snippet of classical music, featuring the harp and flute, on the radio when she was just seven.
"I became completely overwhelmed - physically, emotionally obsessed," she said.
"And from that moment on, I knew what I wanted to do."
She studied in Paris and then travelled the globe performing. Earlier this week she was performing in Budapest but her future is back home in Australia as artistic director of the Snow Concert Hall.
"I've played in the greatest halls with the greatest musicians, which is why it's so wonderful for me now to be able to give back to Australia music and bring some of that back to Australia," she said.
Ms de la Vega said the Snow Concert Hall was world-class and "magical".
"It's an absolute gem," she said.
"For me, when I play in this hall it feels comparative to Wigmore Hall in London and the Berlin Philharmonie."
With her contacts and the calibre of the hall, Ms de la Vega said stellar artists would want to perform in Canberra.
"We've got the honey pot and the bees will come," she said.
"This hall has the capacity to be known worldwide."
- For tickets to the concerts go to snowconcerthall.com.
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