The origins of QMF date back to the mid-nineties, as the Brisbane Biennial Festival of Music (BBFM). The founding Artistic Director of the BBFM was the renowned Anthony Steel, who directed the 1991 and 1993 Festivals. In his autobiography, Steel remarks the 1993 event was one of his finest achievements. The 1995 and 1997 Festivals were led by Nicholas Heyward as CEO, and Artistic Advisors Jonathan Mills and Richard Mills.
From 1999 to 2005 the Festival was re-named the Queensland Biennial Festival of Music, with a remit to extend the Festival’s reach across the state of Queensland. The first Artistic Director (1999) was Simone de Haan, and then from 2001 to 2005 the festival was led by Lyndon Terracini, who established large-scale community projects in regional areas as centrepieces of the Festival’s programming policy.
Terracini was succeeded by jazz pianist, composer and conductor Paul Grabowsky, who programmed the 2007 Festival (which was also re-named the Queensland Music Festival) before leaving to become Artistic Director of the Adelaide Festival.
The 2009 and 2011 Festivals were directed by leading Australian artist Deborah Conway, whose programs developed the QMF reputation and reach, creating deep long term community engagement in regional Queensland, using the finest Australian artists, combined with daring commissions for Brisbane stages, with music at their core.
The 2013 and 2015 Festivals have been directed by James Morrison, whose hallmark has been large scale participation programs, achieving a Guinness World Records title for the World’s Largest Orchestra (7,224 players performing at Suncorp Stadium), and the largest-ever QMF commission, Under This Sky, featuring a cast of 728, together with music commissions and performances by world-class musicians all over the state.
In February 2016, QMF appointed internationally renowned singer-songwriter Katie Noonan as Artistic Director.