Bonfire & Big Sing heats up Hobart

Festival of Voices founder Neil Cameron will lead the annual Bonfire & Big Sing as the centrepiece event of the festival program.
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Thousands of people gather at Salamanca Place for the Festival of Voices Bonfire & Big Sing. Image courtesy Festival of Voices. 

Festival of Voices (FOV) founder Neil Cameron will ignite Hobart’s Salamanca Square on 11 July, when the much-loved Bonfire & Big Sing brings the community together for the Festival’s centrepiece event.

‘We build a large bonfire in Hobart’s most iconic street and we have 4000 people singing around its warming flames. We also have a candle lit parade with four hundred people, a people’s orchestra and international performers on stage. We have always had a policy of participation, and this has lead to a feeling of inclusion and that, in turn, produces enthusiasm and a sense of joy,’ Cameron explained.

Opening on 4 July, the Festival runs for 10 days as a city-wide celebration of music and song. Joining Cameron in the Bonfire & Big Sing celebrations are headline artists including hit USA vocal quintet The Exchange and The Spooky Men’s Chorale.

‘In years gone past the bonfire awakes a good sense of community and the atmosphere is terrific. Maybe it triggers those feelings within us of sitting around the campfires of old, warm and cosy, listening to our stories and songs,’ said Cameron, adding that he is excited to see this theme of community reflected not just through the Bonfire & Big Sing, but within the entire program, spanning some 80 events.

I love the fact that we Hobartians have our annual event, but people from all over Australia enjoy it with us. I love the fact that we are all singing together – it brings about a feeling of friendship and well being.

‘I have worked in festivals all my working life and feel that the Festival of Voices really invests in community participation. We are not just an arts festival that brings in performers to entertain a crowd. We go the extra yards to provide a platform for our communities to learn from some of the greatest teachers in the world,’ he said.

‘We believe in cultural development and we are committed to seeing Tasmania become a “singing island” with music being practiced by everyone. We want to enrich the place we live in.’

Cameron said that the 10 year milestone for the festival was an important achievement.

‘For every festival to reach its 10th year is a major achievement in today’s hardline economic atmosphere. It means you are really securely established and have got the concept right.’

The Bonfire & Big Sing will be held on Friday 11 July at Salamanca Place as a free, family-friendly event.

The Festival of Voices takes place in venues across Hobart from 4-13 July.

For further information visit the Festival of Voices website

Troy Nankervis
About the Author
Troy Nankervis is an ArtsHub journalist from Melbourne. Follow him on twitter @troynankervis