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5 September 2007

Melbourne International Arts Festival

Sarah Blard Band members L to R: Kate Neal, Karen Berger, David Adamson and Jeannie Van de Velde Image: Sarah Blard Band members L to R: Kate Neal, Karen Berger, David Adamson and Jeannie Van de Velde  

Spring, it seems, has come early this year. And along with warmer weather, pollen-infested air, and summery dresses, excitement abounds: it is the start of festival season! The Melbourne International Arts Festival kicks the season off this year with a program featuring some of the world’s finest contemporary artists from countries all around the world including some of Australia’s exceptional home-grown talent.

Descending on Melbourne from 11-27 October, the festival treats audiences to a plethora of theatre, dance, music, visual arts and more. Over 700 international and local artists will converge in Melbourne to perform, exhibit and screen their work in 19 venues throughout the city.

For music lovers, artistic director Kristy Edmunds’s third Melbourne International Arts Festival celebrates a diversity of styles and genres – there is something for almost everyone’s taste.

A highlight of the program will no doubt be the dusk til dawn performance of American legend John Cage’s Musiccircus. Local musicians Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey will gather hundreds of Australian artists to perform simultaneously over a twelve hour period at the BMW Edge on Friday 26 October. The music of sound artists, ensembles, solo performers, dancers, visual artists, and poets will permeate all levels of this venue according to Cage’s instructions for this unique project: ‘I have not made detailed directions for Musicircus. You simply bring together under one roof as much music (as many musical groups and soloists) as practical under the circumstances. It should last longer than ordinary concerts…There must be plenty of space for the audience to walk around…There should be food on sale and drinks (as at a circus), dancers and acrobats.’ (John Cage)

Jon Rose’s Sphere of Influence also looks to be a fascinating performance. A two and a half metre white ball will be pushed, heaved, thrown and rolled around Federation square by members of Physical Theatre. Aided by purpose-built interactive technology, the ball’s motion manipulates both sound and image. Sounds include environmental and vocal samples (the Song Company and Aku Kadogo) composed by Jon Rose and live violin obligato by Hollis Taylor. Through this multimedia performance, Jon Rose explores messages of wisdom, power and warning.

The humble teapot is another object that will feature in the festival’s music program. The Teapot Ensemble of Australia (Kate Neal, Karen Berger, Jeannie Van de Velde and David Adamson) brings you the delightful aromas of baroque, classical, modern and original compositions in their exploration of the sonic possibilities of a teapot!

The Dead Horse Band – a Melbourne-based group of renowned classical and jazz players – will perform the works of Australian composer Kate Neal, alongside many other local and international musicians in The Famous Speigeltent.

Curated and coordinated by Rachel Young and David Young, Propositions & Game Plans presents the creative process in a way rarely experienced by audiences. The installation features a selection of musical scores, movement instructions, notations and drawings by Australian and international composers, choreographers, visual artists and designers and will be open to the public for the duration of the festival.

A new work for mechanized piano, instruments and electronics by the internationally acclaimed art/music collective Slave Pianos (Rohan Drape, Neil Kelly, Danius Kesminas, Michael Stevenson) will accompany Andy Warhol’s Silver Clouds installation. This installation – created in 1966 – was designed to challenge the conventions of the time by floating and mingling the work amongst the audience. At the end of the night guests will help to ‘de-install’ the work.

Other musicians include multimedia artist and performer Laurie Anderson, Melbourne Mandolin Orchestra, installation artist Matthew Gardiner, Brooklyn-based Dan Zane and Friends, Israeli pianist Pnina Becher and many more.

For more information about the 2007 Melbourne International Art Festival go to www.melbournefestival.com.au

Subjects discussed by this article:

Danielle Carey is a musicologist, writer, and musician. A graduate from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, she writes for various national music publications and is editor of resonate - the Australian Music Centre's new web magazine.


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