From the Artistic Director
Hi, Brett Sheehy here, the Festival's artistic director, with news on some of the shows we have lined up for you for this October.
I just received news of the release of the new music video 'Karma' by double Grammy winner Joss Stone (in our notes from the hard road and beyond concert). This video comes on the heels of her recent extraordinary enterprise as a member of the supergroup SuperHeavy with Mick Jagger, Dave Stewart, Damian Marley and A.R. Rahman. She couldn't be in better company!
Joss performs exclusively for the Festival on her first visit here in more than four years, and I especially love the generational arc we're drawing in the notes concert, from Mavis Staples (friend of Martin Luther King and 'the voice' of the civil rights movement in America) right through to Joss and Emmanuel Jal, who makes his Australian debut. This iconic hip hop artist and rap star was a child soldier in the Sudan, and his songs of revolution and redemption are as searingly moving and politically charged as any music I've heard in the past five years.
For me, this concert is the must-see event of the Festival. Why? Because it's a one-night-only opportunity produced especially for you, which no one else in the country - or the world - will ever see; because we're the only festival in Australia putting together these kinds of collaborations; and because having Joss, Emmanuel, Mavis, Archie Roach, Rickie Lee Jones, Paul Dempsey, John Schumann, Mark Atkins and The Black Arm Band all on the one stage is, well, musical heaven.
And in theatre, two landmark events are seeing tickets flying out the door. Our ultra-contemporary production of Hedda Gabler sees the legendary Schaubühne of Berlin (for me, one of the three greatest theatre houses of Europe) making its Melbourne debut, and the first modern theatre production to tour outside China - Rhinoceros in Love - redefines Chinese theatre for the west in a stunningly original 21st century staging. Not a dragon or red lantern in sight!
I'm also thrilled to announce that Kronos Quartet have just been awarded the Polar Music Prize (sometimes called the 'Nobel Prize for Music') by the King and Queen of Sweden. The prize is awarded each year to a classical and a contemporary musician or ensemble - this year the contemporary prize goes to Patti Smith, a fitting pairing with the maverick quartet. Previous laureates have included Pierre Boulez, Björk, Valery Gergiev, Sonny Rollins, Renée Fleming and Bob Dylan.
I congratulate Kronos Quartet and am delighted they'll present two events for you - the astonishing Sun Rings as well as a one-night-only concert of works inspired by the themes of this year's program.
Staying with music, if you see one opera this year (or next!), make it the most vibrant and celebratory production currently on the world stage - Isango Ensemble's The Magic Flute. Set today in the townships of South Africa, with an incredible score arranged for an orchestra of African instruments, this triumphant production was the toast of the West End, winning the Best Opera Award at the Chalelet in Paris, the Olivier Award and the Theatregoers Choice Award in London.
Isango's unique approach to great works of art inspired Sir Ian McKellen this year to become the Ensemble's new Patron, with Sir Simon Rattle and Alan Rickman joining Isango's International Council.
And if you don't already have our full-colour, 80-page Program Guide, pick up The Age newspaper this Friday and receive a free copy. Or if you already have one, get another and pass it on to your friends.
More news from the Festival front next week