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FESTIVAL – Sydney Festival 2010: Music

January 9, 2010toJanuary 30, 2010

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Get ready to feel the L-O-V-E when the much-revered Al Green comes to Sydney with his celebration of gospel and soul. In his Australian premiere, Green will present his highly-acclaimed show at both Festival First Night and the State Theatre. Green is one of the all-time great soul singers, releasing a string of hits including “Let’s Stay Together”, “Take Me to the River” and “I’m Still in Love with You”.
Watch out for pirates on the Forecourt of Sydney Opera House when impresario extraordinaire Hal Willner (Came So Far for Beauty, Sydney Festival 2005), presents his Rogue’s Gallery, featuring an exemplary line-up of local and international pop, rock and folk artists in an epic concert tribute to songs of the sea. The all-star cast, including Marianne Faithfull, David Johansen (New York Dolls), actor/musician Tim Robbins, Gavin Friday, Norma Waterson (The Watersons), David Thomas (Pere Ubu), Baby Gramps, Sarah Blasko, Katy Steele (Little Birdy), Glenn Richards (Augie March) and more, will perform contemporary re-workings of traditional pirate ballads, sea-songs and chanteys.
Across town at City Recital Hall are Grizzly Bear and Neko Case. One of the most illustrious bands of 2009, Brooklyn’s Grizzly Bear craft glorious orchestrated pop music in the tradition of some of the most revered experimental American music. Neko Case makes a welcome return to Sydney with her combination of classic country songwriting, sophisticated pop sensibilities and soaring vocals.
Also at City Recital Hall is France’s Diotima String Quartet with a trio of concerts featuring music from Beethoven to Ravel as well as contemporary composers, resulting in an exhilarating journey through a variety of sound worlds and periods. American bass/baritone Ryan McKinny (also performing in Oedipus Rex) will perform that most heartbreaking of song cycles, Winterreise, that sublime combination of Franz Schubert’s music and Wilhelm Müller’s poems .
Presenting two very different concerts is Mali’s celebrated musician, Toumani Diabaté. At the State Theatre, Diabaté will play a concert of his recent album, The Mandé Variations, featuring visionary interpretations of traditional music of the kora (a traditional West African 21-string harp) alongside ground-breaking improvised pieces. At Riverside Theatre (and at Summer Sounds in The Domain) Diabaté will let loose with The Symmetric Orchestra in a joyous super-charged celebration of the music of Senegal, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Mali.
Also in a particularly joyous mode is The Manganiyar Seduction, where 43 Rajasthani musicians perform a dazzling combination of Indian music and theatre. Seated in 36 individual curtained compartments, the musicians are framed by carnival lights, revealing each solo musician. What follows is a build-up of instruments and voices in a lush spectacle of melody, rhythm and song.
Enmore Theatre plays host to two not-to-be-missed gigs of the Festival. First up is the legendary John Cale and his band playing music from his vast catalogue. Founding member of the seminal The Velvet Underground, Cale is a musician, singer, songwriter, producer, poet and visual artist, and will also present a Keynote Address at the Seymour Centre, as part of Circa 1979: Signal to Noise. And for the ultimate Australia Day experience, try Dirty Three & Laughing Clowns in a special Don’t Look Back presentation.
In a world premiere, Sydney-based Ensemble Offspring will present Fractured Again, a multi-faceted performance combining original compositions and experimental sounds with aspects of installation art, lighting design and choreography. Featuring the rare and angelic-sounding glass harmonica, Fractured Again is inspired by a scene from Donizetti’s opera Lucia di Lammermoor.
Back at City Recital Hall, two jazz trios strut their stuff with Polish outfit Marcin Wasilewski Trio making their Australian debut. Balanced, complex and delicate, theirs is a bewitching sound. Next is Brooklyn based jazz and groove band Medeski Martin & Wood, whose profound musical rapport allows them to make music in the moment. (Medeski Martin & Wood also perform at The Famous Spiegeltent.)
Sydney’s favourite summer pop-up concert venue, Beck’s Festival Bar gets a facelift when it returns to Hyde Park Barracks for Sydney Festival 2010. With a spanking new marquee, an additional free late night gig series and a diverse line up of hot local and international bands and DJs, Beck’s Festival Bar will be the ultimate outdoor summer party destination for music fans and Festival revellers. The line-up includes Grizzly Bear, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, Severed Heads, Vieux Farka Touré, Camera Obscura, DJ Yoda’s National Video Vacation, The Very Best, Breakestra and many more.

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