The Melbourne Festival has made a relatively quiet entry this year, perhaps because we are preoccupied with the political circus happening in a country far away, and (here at Classic Melbourne) excitement at the return of the Ring just weeks away.
But there’s a lot to notice and a lot to thrill audiences in our own Festival as the organisers are only too pleased to tell us. Here are some highlights – and some pretty impressive facts and figures, for a start. Over 18 days this October, the Festival will present 62 events and 207 performances by artists and companies from countries including Spain, Canada, Germany, UK, China, USA, France, Ireland, Japan and Australia. With 10 world premieres, and 18 Australian premieres and events exclusive to Melbourne, the 2016 highlights, drawn from a spectacular line-up of dance, theatre, circus, contemporary and classical music, visual arts and free events.
We’re interested in dance and music so like the sound of Canada’s Le Patin Libre – the revolutionary Montreal-based troupe – who will demonstrate a new kind of ice dancing like nothing else in their internationally acclaimed Vertical Influences; and straddling the gap between circus and dance to take audiences where neither can alone, Les 7 doigts de la main reimagine the collision of these forms in Triptyque.
Celebrated for her extraordinary footwork and captivating stage presence worldwide, Spain’s reigning flamenco queen Sara Baras will grace Melbourne’s Hamer Hall for the very first time with her exhilarating work Voces; and one of the world’s most sought after talents, New York’s Faye Driscoll presents the first part of her remarkable trilogy, are sorry Thank You For Coming: Attendance. We left it too late for review tickets, which makes the title somewhat ironic!).
In local work, Lucy Guerin unleashes a world premiere that will enfold Festival goers in the embrace of darkness with The Dark Chorus; and Dancehouse’s biennial Dance Territories program returns to question the boundaries between body and place in Border Lines. And in contemporary music, Australia’s finest including iOTA, Tim Rogers, Steve Kilbey, Deborah Conway & Adalita pay tribute to the Starman in David Bowie: Nothing Has Changed, performing his music in their own styles backed by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (another sell-out show); iconic Australian singer-songwriter Paul Kelly and Irish-French Chanteuse Camille O’Sullivan celebrate the words of W.B Yeats and other great Irish poets of the past century with Ancient Rain; and in a potent and moving song cycle and a tribute to an enduring musical tradition, Clinton Walker’s ground-breaking book, film and album is immortalised live on stage by an extensive cast of star singers and songwriters across the generations in Buried Country.
Jazz luminaries, saxophonist Joshua Redman and pianist Brad Mehldau reunite for the first time on Australian soil in five years to perform tracks from their new album Nearness; and for 35 years, the unmistakable siren songs of Lisa Gerrard have enthralled listeners around the globe. Melbourne will get a rare chance to see her perform live this October, off the back of her latest album Blank Page.
One of Melbourne’s premier live music venues The Toff in Town will be the late night home of this year’s Melbourne Festival.
In classical music, one of the most influential music makers of the late 20th century, Philip Glass presents a live interpretation of Jean Cocteau’s masterpiece, LA BELLE ET LA BÊTE, as The Philip Glass Ensemble play his original score live in synchronisation with the film; and from film to a television phenomenon, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra celebrate the musical achievements of one of pop culture’s most recognisable series with Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage, 50th Anniversary Concert Tour. A sought-after production it has played more than 100 concert halls worldwide and will unfold under the stars on the Festival’s opening weekend.
Singapore-born pianist Melvyn Tan brings to life the history of his instrument, the piano in scintillating performances that have been heard in the world’s leading concert halls; and Le Terrible Orchestre De Belleville perform the Oscar-nominated film score by Benoit Charest from the award-winning French feature The Triplets of Belleville.
In a campus-wide program featuring some of the University of Melbourne’s most iconic historical sites and state-of-the-art technologies, Cultural Collisions curated by Jonathan Mills puts one of music’s revolutionaries, Percy Grainger, and two renowned architects, Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin together to create a weird and wondrous program of events.
Artistic Director, Jonathan Holloway said: “For tens of thousands of years people have met on this land to share songs and stories and to dance together. This is where they gathered to explore their dreams and realities.
“This year’s Festival is full of events that freely and inquisitively traverse borders in all their forms. We shine a spotlight on the ever shifting borders between childhood and adulthood, between life and death, between dreams and reality. We puncture the creative borders between art forms, and between the arts and civic society. We have sought every opportunity to blur the borders between artists and audiences.
“In each part of the Festival we have put work of international excellence from Victoria and work of international excellence from the rest of the world together as proud equals, further complemented by collaboration between the two.”
Image from You and Me and the Space Between. Credit: Peter Mathew.
The Melbourne Festival takes place from 6-23 October 2016. Tickets are on sale; to book or find out more go to the Melbourne Festival which supplied the material for this page.