Festival Founder Caroline Neeling was inspired to create a festival celebrating women composers while musing over another Victorian music festival, for which she had been Vice-President.
The final concert of the wonderful Brunswick Beethoven Festival - performed by the scintillating trio PLEXUS - had featured two pieces written by women.
Reflecting on this, Caroline was dismayed to belatedly realise that only four of the forty-odd pieces performed at the Festival were by women.
Undertaking research immediately, she found that in classical music, an average of 3-5% of performances in the concert hall and on radio are pieces composed by women.
Looking deeper, she found that this statistic is also true - if not worse - in other genres including Indigenous, film, games and jazz music.
Caroline thought about these facts for a couple of days then plucked up her courage. She called PLEXUS co-founder Monica Curro and said "I want to create a new festival celebrating compositions by women, in Indigenous, games, classical, film and jazz music. It would be a dream come true if you'd be the festival’s Artistic Director, and if you could announce the birth of the Festival on ABC FM next Thursday [8th March 2018] which is International Women’s Day. What do you think?’
Without hesitation, Monica said yes, and a Festival was born!
Caroline was awarded a Bachelor of Music (Honours) from the University of Western Australia in 1984, in Piano Performance. She was the Director of the WA Music Academy from 1987-2000. During that period she organised numerous events each year, including children’s operettas, recitals, concerts and fundraising events, and wrote a 12 book music education curriculum, Music in Colour.
Caroline has extensive event management experience in Melbourne, including arranging a black tie concert and silent art auction to benefit the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, which was held at the National Gallery of Victoria (2005). Caroline was event manager for the prestigious Victoria Prize (2011) and the Premier's Award for Health and Medical Research (2012). She was the Vice-President of the Brunswick Beethoven Festival (2017-2018) and has been the Manager of Business and Operations at the School of Media and Communication, RMIT University, since 2015.