Merlyn Quaife fell in love with music at school and has never looked back.
That was 40 years ago.
The soprano, who now calls Bendigo home, is ecstatic to be part of the inaugural Bendigo Chamber Music Festival in February.
"This is my home festival and I've done just a handful of concerts in Bendigo because up until now, there hasn't been much opportunity," Ms Quaife said.
"I'm very excited to be singing in the first of what I hope will be many more festivals, where people can expect a beautiful variety of performances," she said.
Performance in Bendigo has flourished since the opening of the Ulumbarra Theatre according to Ms Quaife, who moved to the region from Melbourne six years ago.
"There has definitely been a shift in the amount on offer, the calibre of the performances and number of people in the audiences since Ulumbarra opened," she said.
Residing in Junortoun, Ms Quaife divides her time between performing on stage and volunteering in the community.
"I'm a Rotarian at Bendigo South Rotary, volunteer at Bendigo Animal and Welfare Community Services, tutor to a Karen student and volunteer at Vision Australia Radio," Ms Quaife said.
Giving back to the community is one of the reasons Ms Quaife was attracted to Bendigo as she sought a tree change in pursuit of semi-retirement in an environment that would be conducive to her hobby of gardening and love of open spaces.
The chance to perform in three concerts at the Bendigo Chamber Music Festival excites the veteran soprano, who has performed internationally.
"I've performed in Russia, America, Germany, Spain, New Zealand and Singapore," Ms Quaife said.
Despite Australia not being a traditional breeding ground for classical music, Ms Quaife's travels have taught her that quality is not lacking close to home.
"There is a long traditional of high quality, classical music that Europe has that we don't," Ms Quaife said.
"What I have learnt though is that the standard in Australia, despite not having an embedded culture, is just as good."
Working abroad has been a lonely endeavour and one that requires a lot of discipline, with the rigours of the road endured in solitude.
"You have to eat well, sleep well and be comfortable to be alone and in your own space."
"I've not been part of a group, I've always done solo work. If you can't deal with that, then it's not the job for you," a frank Ms Quaife remarked.
Travelling does have its rewards and in a career littered with high notes, a couple of performances stand out.
"Performing Brett Dean's Bliss at the Edinburgh Festival in 2010 and singing on horseback in the touring show Lippizaners with Stars are two highlights," Ms Quaife said.
The excitement and thrill of performing today is different to the anxiety and nerves that Ms Quaife endured in the early part of her career.
"I used to get terribly uptight and nervous, but these days I relish it."
Age has proven no barrier for Ms Quaife, with her voice holding up, despite years on stage.
"My voice is firing on all cylinders, whereas many, many singers of my age already have to retire because their voice is not working so well," she said.
"It's like most things, if you don't use it, you lose it. I just keep practicing. Treat it like sport. You warm up, you do the drills and play the game."
Singing with a string quartet and a yet to be revealed role with a choir is part of the repertoire Ms Quaife will be performing in February.
"I'm excited to work with new people. When you put multiple minds together it always creates something different."
The Bendigo Chamber Music Festival takes place from Wednesday, 5 February to Sunday, 9 February 2020.
To learn more, visit bendigochambermusicfestival.com.au