AGATHIE CHRISTIE’S ‘A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED’ @ THE GENESIANS

 

You can’t go wrong with Agatha Christie. Well I suppose you could. But not if you are the Genesian Theatre Company. This is their metier. A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED is gripping, stylish entertainment. Adapted by Leslie Darbon, the play is from 1987 but it retains all the period elements that audiences require of a Christie Mystery. The Genesians have assembled an excellent cast, put them on a lovely set and costumed them superbly.

A unusual notice has been put in the village paper of the small English spa town of Chipping Cleghorn. It announces a murder will be committed at ‘Little Paddocks’ on Friday evening at 6:30. The household see it as rather a joke but neighbours and villagers are sure to drop by around about then. And no one is going to keep a certain Miss Jane Marple, in the village to take the waters for her rheumatism, away from the possibility of a delicious mystery.

And delicious it is. Owing much to  the way the climax has been adapted by the playwright who has wisely removed some of the novel’s more hysterical events such as an attempted drowning in the kitchen sink and the Snugglepuss redolent, Miss Murgatroyd: yet kept the period flavour which is required to keep Miss M in her place and time. Continue reading AGATHIE CHRISTIE’S ‘A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED’ @ THE GENESIANS

WILLY RUSSELL’S CLASSIC ‘EDUCATING RITA’ SPARKLES @ THE DEPOT

 

Frank Bryant (David Jeffrey) has become a tutor, for an Open University English Literature course, entirely just for the money. He is an older middle-class professor, a career academic, and a high-functioning alcoholic, who had ambitions to be a great poet and is bored with his University job of teaching undergraduate English Literature. His first student Rita White (Emily McGowan) struts into his book-filled office.

Rita is an unhappy married hairdresser, down-to-earth and excessively talkative but often rambling, and now aged 26 years, she needs freedom and is driven to dedicate herself to receiving all of the education, that she failed to receive in school.

Rita brings all of her under-educated blunt honesty, to loudly challenge Frank’s deep intellect and limitless knowledge of literature. Each inspires the other to become more alive, and better live their lives. Socially inept Rita believes that she is trapped by her working class life and her husband, and the theme of identity emerges, because she changed her birth name from Susan to Rita. Rita believes that studying literature for twelve months, will give her the worldly knowledge that she needs to grow as a person.

Playwright Willy Russell has sleekly styled EDUCATING RITA with realistic character-driven dialogue, providing the perfect balance of humour and poignancy. The play is fast paced, dialogue intensive 120 minutes of theatre entertainment, full of purpose, comedy and pathos, as these two people, learn more about each other, the class system, and the many shortcomings of institutionalised education systems.                 Continue reading WILLY RUSSELL’S CLASSIC ‘EDUCATING RITA’ SPARKLES @ THE DEPOT

The Paris Opera Ballet in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

f we shadows have offended, Think but this, and all is mended, That you have but slumber’d here. While these visions did appearA Midsummer Night’s Dream, Scene 7

Stunningly danced the latest screening of the Palace Opera and Ballet season is the Paris Opera Ballet’s presentation of Balanchine’s A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHT DREAM in two acts and six scenes .It is the first time the Paris Opera Ballet has performed this particular Balanchine work , one of Balanchine’s few narrative ballets .

Created in 1961 it features the marvellous music by Mendelssohn and uses a luscious reworking of the original Karinska costumes by fashion icon Christian Lacroix. Continue reading The Paris Opera Ballet in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

TRAFFIC JAM GALLERIES PRESENT WORKS BY KATHRYN MCGOVERN AND SALLY WEST

The current exciting exhibition at Traffic Jam Galleries is a combined show – Kathryn MCGovern’s DOG SHOW and Sally West’s AROUND TOWN. They are very different artists in subject and style and it makes for a captivating event.

Kathryn McGovern’s exhibition is a series of wonderful canine portraits. McGovern, over the past few months, visited various dog shows in Queensland and mingled with cossetted canines, breeders, stewards and judges.

Individual canines are depicted in great detail and we marvel at the variety of colours, shapes and sizes of the assorted dogs.

Reference photos were combined with on location observations together with McGovern’s imagination to create the final vibrant product of ink and paper.

The paintings are witty and delightful. They feature an exceptional use of composition and an intriguing use of ‘ negative space’.

From beagles to dachshunds,  Churchillian bull dogs to tiny chihuahuas, giant Dalmatians and medium sized terriers, the various breeds are wonderfully shown. Some of them are full of bristling enthusiastic movement, whilst others are posed and poised.

We see it all from the canine perspective, there are no full human portraits but some pictures include legs and arms of the judges/owners.

SALLY WEST’S exhibition AROUND TOWN is her response to the environment in which she now lives. Internationally exhibited West is predominantly an ‘en plein air’ painter, with most of this exhibition’s works having been painted on site.

“I see the harbour and Sydney through different eyes now as an adult and mother, I now crave to capture them as a painter”. says West.

West’s current exhibition is a documentation of her favourite places that she has found in Sydney over the past 6-12 months.

The paintings feature a series of extremely thick, swirling brushstrokes full of wonderful texture, Many of the works are full of vibrant colour and dynamic composition, remarkable images of  the sea or landscapes, including Crown Road, Study From Berry’s Bay,  and Double Bay to Darling Point. The iconic Sydney Opera House is painted from above.

This was an exciting exhibition with special appeal for canine fanciers and landscape lovers.

This current exhibition is on display at the Traffic Jam until 25th May.

LIMITLESS DANCE COMPANY IN ‘SE7EN’ @ THE NIDA PLAYHOUSE

Featured image – Olivia Kingston, Raegan Williams and Alex Warren in Limitless Dance Company’s ‘Se7en’ at the NIDA Playhouse.

When does synchronised motion stop mimicking a machine and, instead, move like a flock of birds in flight?

When do the constituent parts of animate limbs stop being mere tendon, muscle and bone and, instead, soar like the wings of an eagle?

When do individual dancers stop moving in brilliant unison and, instead, let one another’s individuality brilliantly move each dancer into living intercourse with the whole, much like the wind can rouse the leaves of a tree to leap, each leafy blade shimmering the other? Continue reading LIMITLESS DANCE COMPANY IN ‘SE7EN’ @ THE NIDA PLAYHOUSE

BETWEEN THE STREETLIGHT AND THE MOON @ KINGS CROSS THEATRE

 

Between is exactly how I would describe Mophead Theatre’s world premiere production of Melita Rowston’s BETWEEN THE STREETLIGHT AND THE MOON. The play is not quite sure of its identity and the cast are caught in the blurry light between natural beauty and mechanical glare. There is some fine work to be seen in the production, work which explores the complex ideas and does its best to elevate the overstatement.

Australian Academic Zadie works at King’s College, London. She is being pressured by the publish or perish mentality as she struggles to complete her PHD. She proposes that there is a letter somewhere that proves that Édouard Manet, despite his denials, was lover to his oft subject, and artist in her own right, Berthe Morisot. She is also supervising her effervescent French student, Dominique, and dealing with a younger, almost lover, Barry, who has come to London to display in a prestigious art competition. When she travels to Paris at the behest friend and Head of Department, Janet, she has random encounters with artistic provocateur Jeff. Continue reading BETWEEN THE STREETLIGHT AND THE MOON @ KINGS CROSS THEATRE

AMADEUS : NT LIVE REVISITS A CLASSIC OF THE BRITISH THEATRE

The latest in the excellent series of the NT Live series, this is  a gripping production of Shaffer’s controversial, classic play AMADEUS.

First performed in 1979 and then with the film in 1984 this is a slightly reworked production. On one level, it is about art and creativity, genius, jealousy and revenge, and the struggle to be an artist and use one’s God given gifts. Mostly, however, it is about the fictionalised rivalry between Salieri (here heroically played by Lucian Msamati) who also acts in part as the  narrator, and Mozart .There’s significant debate about this which suggests it was probably a greatly exaggerated antipathy. Respect, envy, resentment and affection are all intertwined in the complex relationship that develops between the two.    Continue reading AMADEUS : NT LIVE REVISITS A CLASSIC OF THE BRITISH THEATRE

HONG KONG PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA @ THE CONCERT HALL

This is the first time the Hong Kong Philharmonic has visited Australia in its 43-year history. Its 2017 Tour was led by internationally-renowned conductor maestro Jaap van Zweden, Music Director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic since the 2012/13 season, who conducted with elegance, aplomb and a terrific sense of timing and phrasing

The ambitious programme included the Australian premiere of Quintessence, a new work by Hong Kong composer Dr Fung Lam as well as Mozart’s Violin Concerto no. 4 and Mahler’s Symphony no. 1.

The opening work Dr Fung Lam’s Quintessence which tries to define and express the Buddhist ideas of striving towards one’s highest goals and attainment. Fung Lam is the orchestra’s Director of Orchestral Planning and the first Hong Kong composer ever to be commissioned by the BBC.
Continue reading HONG KONG PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA @ THE CONCERT HALL

THE SYDNEY FAIR : AN ANTIQUE LOVERS DELIGHT

The Sydney Fair (25-28 May 2017) at the Royal Hall of Industries Moore Park will be the largest International quality event for 10 years.

Over 50 of Australia’s outstanding dealers will be exhibiting (and selling) Furniture, Decorative Arts, Jewellery, Art, Prints and Posters, Books, Vintage Fashion and Couture and Luxury Vintage goods from all eras, Antique through to Contemporary Art.

The Event includes a Couture Exhibition showcasing Evening Dresses from 1920’s to 1990’s from Chanel, Dior and many designers from the Hollywood era, runway parades of vintage couture, film of the Paris catwalk parades from the 1950’s and much more.

The Royal Hall of Industries is situated at 1 Driver Avenue Moore Park Sydney N.S.W.

Opening night is Thursday 25th May 6.00 pm to 9.00 pm, followed by Friday 26th and Saturday 27th May between 11.00am to 6.00pm and Sunday 28th May 11.00am to 5.00pm

Tickets can be purchased online or at the door:-
$30 Opening night
$15 everyday of the fair
$10 Concession (not opening night)

For more information about The Sydney Fair, visit http://www.thesydneyfair.com.au

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TOKKOTAI : A NEW EXHIBITION BY CONTEMPORARY AUSTRALIAN AND JAPANESE ARTISTS

 

To mark the 75th Anniversary of the Japanese submarine attack on Sydney Harbour, Mosman Art Gallery has organised a multi-media site-specific exhibition staged in an oversized old naval fuel tank at Headland Park, Georges Heights, overlooking the scene of the World War II account.

Six Australian and Japanese artists have interpreted the event in a contemporary context, offering large–scale installations, paintings, soundscapes and immersive experiences that consider war and conflict on a global scale, while evoking one of Sydney Harbour’s darkest moments.

When the Japanese opened fire on the night of 31st May 1942, it was a brazen strike that created fear and havoc across Sydney and around the nation. War was brought home to Australia’s Eastern States. Continue reading TOKKOTAI : A NEW EXHIBITION BY CONTEMPORARY AUSTRALIAN AND JAPANESE ARTISTS

OMEGA ENSEMBLE : SONGS FROM THE BUSH @ THE UTZON ROOM

 

Above : Composer of Songs From The Bush, Ian Munro. Featured image : Omega Ensemble clarinettist and Co-Artistic Director, David Rowden.

Omega Ensemble again presented a chamber music concert in the delectable Utzon Room setting which championed works combining the clarinet with string quartet.

David Rowden’s seamless and sonorous clarinet tone across all instrumental registers and compositional style spoke beautifully to us throughout the event, sensitively supported by the Omega Ensemble strings.

The five versatile musicians blended expertly in an eclectic programme featuring two recent Australian works. A rarely heard clarinet quintet from the late nineteenth century was introduced to the audience and a popular Mozart string quartet was thrown elegantly into the mix. Continue reading OMEGA ENSEMBLE : SONGS FROM THE BUSH @ THE UTZON ROOM

WHITELEY : A BRILLIANT DOCO ON ONE OF OUR GREATEST ARTISTS

Australia is certainly at the arts end of the world, put on the global creative cartography by Brett Whiteley, and James Bogle’s brilliant documentary is completely deserving of Brett’s talent. WHITELEY may well be the best Australian film of the year.

Writer/director James Bogle and co writer, Victor Gentile, have fashioned a fine feature film from Whiteley’s own voice, and the voices of his muse and ex wife, Wendy, either captured on archival footage or recreated from notebooks and interviews over four decades.

Like most artists, this larrikin painter subordinated his life to the overwhelming needs of his art. It is a selfishness, but a selfishness that creates great and enduring art.

Infused with Whiteley’s art, the film is assuredly and undeniably a work of art in itself, as it seeks to fathom the mysteries and intrigue of genius, the confusions and contradictions of this sensitive, selfish man with a soaring talent. Continue reading WHITELEY : A BRILLIANT DOCO ON ONE OF OUR GREATEST ARTISTS

MET ORCHESTRA #2 : FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE

Precision, a wide spectrum of nuance and continued fine rapport as an orchestra allowed formidable expression throughout TMO’s latest Met Concert, entitled FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE at the Eugene Goosens Hall, the ABC Centre.

Getting the event off to a flying start was the overture to Glinka’s opera Ruslan and Ludmilla. A successful choice to initially energise the atmosphere, this piece rocketed out at a brisk pace.
In this way the concert was given an exciting opening from one of the fathers of traditional Russian music. TMO’s track record of excellence in delivery of dramatic musical moments with directness and solid character continued here.

Continue reading MET ORCHESTRA #2 : FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE

TEN DOUBLE PASSES TO THE AMERICAN ESSENTIALS FILM FESTIVAL

 

This May Palace Cinemas once again brings the best of American independent film to Australian screens with American Essentials.

Twenty films make their Australian premiere at the three-week festival, celebrating the latest indie treasures in narrative feature and documentary, together with newly restored American classics.

Thirty-one films curated by Artistic Director Richard Sowada reflects the remarkable breadth of contemporary independent cinema produced in the US, proving a richness far greater than the same old, same old studio pictures inherent in the Hollywood machine.

American Essentials kicks off with 20th CENTURY WOMEN. Nominated for Best Original Screenplay in this year’s Academy Awards, Mike Mill’s 20thCENTURY WOMEN resembles a ramshackle novel rather than a polished screenplay. Continue reading TEN DOUBLE PASSES TO THE AMERICAN ESSENTIALS FILM FESTIVAL

OPERA AUSTRALIA : TWO WEDDINGS ONE BRIDE @ THE PLAYHOUSE

This joyous, frothy operetta is a sheer delight. Robert Andrew Greene’s TWO WEDDINGS ONE BRIDE is adapted from Charles Lecocq’s 1874 classic operetta Girofle-Girofla. Musically it blends some of the most famous and beautiful songs of the operetta repertoire (Strauss, Offenbach, Lehar, Kalman, Lecocq, Stolz ) yet at times it sounds like Mozart, Verdi or even Gilbert and Sullivan.

There is a lush Oriental minimal set design by Owen Phillips – looking as if it could be for The Abduction From The Seraglio or some such – and stunning costumes by Tim Chappel. Andrew Hallsworth’s choreography is inventive and the small cast of five perform with great comic timing.

Polished musical accompaniment was provided by pianist Robert Andrew Green and violinist Yuhki Mayne. Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA : TWO WEDDINGS ONE BRIDE @ THE PLAYHOUSE

SPANISH BAROQUE : THE AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA AND CIRCA @ CITY RECITAL HALL

The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Circa have reunited for a glorious blend of Baroque music and circus at the City Recital Hall.

The performance was inspired by the Brandenburg’s ARIA Award-winning CD Tapas, which includes plenty of percussion, guitar and theorbo, and lashings of violin bravado, with music by Albéniz, Merula, Murcia, Martinez and more.

The two special guests were Baroque guitarist Stefano Maiorana from Rome and soprano Natasha Wilson from New Zealand making her Australian debut.

Circa’s artistic director Yaron Lifschitz’s choreography astutely blended sensational dazzling solos and breathtaking ensemble routines while always harmonising with the spirit of the music. It was a fluid combination of tumbling, gymnastics, balancing and aerial numbers , in various jaw-dropping sections making you blink and go “ I see it but I don’t believe it“. Dangerous dives, throws and catches were included as well as feats of strength and daring as well as sometimes triple-level human pyramids. Continue reading SPANISH BAROQUE : THE AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA AND CIRCA @ CITY RECITAL HALL

DIARY OF A VOLUNTEER : SYDNEY WRITER’S FESTIVAL

Any new experience can be a bit scary and there were a lot of reassured volunteers today when Misty, Sydney Writer’s Festival Volunteer Manager looked across the rows of eager newbies and said. “You will probably be petrified when you arrive at the Vollies Green Room for the first time. Don’t worry. We’ll spot you!” And that’s my takeaway from today’s Volunteer Orientation, we are in good hands.

Experience tells and as Misty and Ashleigh, the Volunteer Co-coordinator, warmly greeted the hundreds of volunteers as we queued for orientation, they knew our names and what we were slated for. Both the old hands like some of the people around me, and novices like myself and the new queue friend I had just made.

It looked like there were equal numbers of both as we did a show of hands for the more experienced and the excitable new ones. I sort of expected older people for reasons that don’t make any sense when I think about it. We are young and old, able bodied and differently abled. My new intergenerational friend is an aspiring writer and the couple near me voracious readers. And we all seem to be ‘volunteery’ type people. RFS, SES, Red Cross, working with youth, nursing home visitor we all seem to do something and so many people look forward to giving their time on the SWF each year.

Including our team supervisors. 28 of them with 130 combined Festivals between them. As badges were given for 5, 10 years volunteer service up to an impressive 13 years, I was getting that very calming ‘we’ve got you’ vibe. And the training only served to put me even further at ease. Emergency training, weather training, anecdotes to learn from and lots of thank yous and look after yourselfs. And being of a theatrical bent, I especially loved the variety of ways one of our trainers said nearly 30 times. “Don’t go in the water!” It’s not a thing apparently!

There is no secret to how to behave when you are a volunteer. We are united by a willingness and desire to help just as the SWF crowds are united in their love of ideas and their expression. Well behaved too we are told. Our team leaders have encountered most out of norm situations and as hundreds of us were ushered around the site by helpful, friendly, knowledgeable supervisors we got a real time, best practice demonstration.

There’s homework admittedly. We need to know where the toilets are about a thousand times a day. Know what events are on during your shift. Know where the venues are and know the map intimately. Questions continue all the way home on the train if you are still wearing your T-shirt and lanyard we are told.

I will be very excited to report on my first question… hope it’s not too pedestrian. Or too hairy. Either way I am ready to go. First stop: my local library for Sandra Leigh Price and The River Sings.

Sydney Writers Festival is 22-28th May
https://www.swf.org.au/
Twitter: @SydWritersFest
#sydneywritersfestival
Facebook: @SydWritersFest
Instagram: sydwritersfest
Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuCZP35tRLm6YfvB9HiS3Vg
iTunes Podcast: https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/sydney-writers-festival/id985898011?mt=2

 

KNOCK AND RUN THEATRE TO PRESENT ‘GRACE’ @ CIVIC PLAYHOUSE

Knock & Run Theatre are excited to announce their second major production GRACE by Craig Wright following on from their debut production Suicide Incorporated which won the CONDA award for Best Dramatic Production.

Wright’s play  is a tragicomedy that explores human assumptions about how God, goodness, faith and causality operate.

Steve and Sara have relocated to Sunrise, Florida to pursue an unbelievably wonderful business deal, but as the deal slowly unravels Sara finds herself increasingly drawn to their next-door neighbour, Sam, a badly-scarred victim of a recent car accident who wants nothing to do with her or her Bible-quoting husband. Continue reading KNOCK AND RUN THEATRE TO PRESENT ‘GRACE’ @ CIVIC PLAYHOUSE

GET OUT : MUCH MORE THAN A BLACK AND WHITE STORY

 

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? meets The Stepford Wives in this creepy anthropological and psychological sleeper hit.

Like Sidney Poitier, Daniel Kaluuya’s Chris is invited by his white girlfriend to meet the folks. Like Spencer Tracey and Katherine Hepburn, Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener are upper middle class liberals, brimming with bonhomie. He is a neurosurgeon and she is a psychiatrist. And they both want to play in, and with their daughter’s intended’s brain. Continue reading GET OUT : MUCH MORE THAN A BLACK AND WHITE STORY

RICHARD BEYNON’S ‘SIMPSON J. 202’ @ CASULA POWERHOUSE ARTS CENTRE

Richard Beynon’s classic Aussie play  SIMPSON J. 202 depicts the  early life and tragic death of John Simpson – the man with the donkey at Gallipoli.

John ‘Jack’ Simpson-Kirkpatrick, a young man who grew up caring more for his pets and the local strays than he did for school work, desperately wanted to follow his father’s footsteps and become a merchant seaman. Due to his lack of interest and attendance at school, he was forced to leave his education and work as a milk delivery boy and donkey attendant.

Tragedy strikes the family home with the loss of his father. Two days after the burial, Jack surprises his family by announcing that he will be leaving home in order to go to sea. He then boards a ship heading to Western Australia and plans to stay for a year to provide for his family and have the adventure of a lifetime, but ends up travelling around Australia, just trying to make enough money to return home. He documents his adventures through letters sent home to his mother Sarah and sister Annie, who are anxious for him to return.

With a lack of funds for his return, Jack thinks his luck has changed when war is declared in Europe, and Australia starts sending men to England for training. Known as a “larrikin,” Jack decides to change his name to John Simpson in order to avoid detection, and hops a ship. Unfortunately, that ship did not return to England but instead was diverted to a camp set up in Egypt, where John was assigned the role of stretcher-bearer.

Simpson and his comrades find themselves on the beaches of Gallipoli. The rest, as they say, is part of Australia’s history.

This latest revival of Beynon’s play is directed by Rosie Daly and the cast comprises Michael Giglio, Charlotte Robertson, Micky Rose, Don Ezard, David Preston, Stephen Wheatley and Charu Ahluwalia.

SEASON : 24th to 27th May, 2017 at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre.

PERFORMANCE TIMES :
Wednesday 24th May – 11.00am [Preview]
Wednesday 24th May – 7.30pm** [Opening Night]
Thursday 25th May – 11.00am
Friday 26th May – 11.00am
Friday 26th May – 7.30pm
Saturday 27th May – 2.00pm [Closing Show]

Opening Night Tickets** – $30
Adult – $30
Concession – $22 (Senior, Pension, Student, MEAA Member)
Child – $20 (12 & under)
Family x 4 – $80 (max. 2 adults)
Family x 5 – $98 (max. 2 adults)
Group – $20 (10+)
School Bookings: Students – $18 (Teachers Complimentary)
** Opening Night includes an After-Show Supper with the creative team and cast. No concessions are available on opening night. **

For Bookings, visit the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre website or phone 02 9824 1121.

For more about Simpson J. 202 by Richard Beynon, visit http://www.casulapowerhouse.com/whats-on/theatre2/2017-theatre/simpson-j.-202

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PERHAPS, PERHAPS…QUIZAS @ THE OLD 505

 

Genuinely fearing for my life, I tried to think of something else. Like… how does an overdressed, pathetically outlandish, absurdly silent creature do this to a bunch of strangers? I didn’t actually get to an answer because I lost focus on the rational and started laughing again. Snot dribbling, eye watering, heart contracting, can’t breathe laughing.

PERHAPS, PERHAPS…QUIZAS is playing at one of my favourite venues, Old 505 Theatre in Newtown. It’s a small independent theatre which consistently punches above its weight but as the intro last night said “It’s not often we have an artist fly in from Mexico.” Gabriela Muñoz is a legend in the clowning community. And her internationally feted creation, Greta, is here for the first time.

To get the Miss Haversham references over early, Greta is alone, a wedding fantasist, spurned yet desperate for love and garbed in a tattered bridal gown. She doesn’t notice us until the audience is fully seated and then we become her playmates in a shared fantasy of enduring love. The clown doesn’t speak but has a squeaky, musical intonation that’s useful when we don’t get what is required of us by the eternally quizzical eyebrow or her small, intimate movements. Continue reading PERHAPS, PERHAPS…QUIZAS @ THE OLD 505

AUSTRALIAN BALLET IN ‘FASTER’ @ JOAN SUTHERLAND SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

From where does an accomplished dancer dance? From every pore of their body.

From where does a very accomplished dancer dance? From every pore of their body inspired by the heart.

From where does a supremely accomplished dancer dance? From every pore of their body inspired by the heart and reflected through their eyes.

Enduring is the joy, infectious, exquisite and soul melting, that is caught from dancers performing in full intercourse, not just with an apt freedom to effect poetry in motion, but to share the flight to naked bliss through their eyes. These are the inestimable moments which we, the audience, crave.

A superlative example of dancers who penetrate each other’s soul as well as the audience’s heart, was provided by Amy Harris and Brett Simon of the Australian Ballet who stood out with their performance in the title piece directed by David McAllister, at the Joan Sutherland  Theatre, Sydney Opera House. Brintley originally choreographed the work for the Royal Birmingham Ballet in 2012 in anticipation of the London Olympics.

Harris and Simon dance the roles of two wrestler-fighters competing in an Olympic games. Watching them perform is like  being privy to seeing elite athletes undress each other from the strictures of sublime sport to the subtle intimacy of tremulous love making.

For me, it rekindled the excitement that I experienced in the incomparable engagement and spine tingling connectedness of the two nude dancers from the Sydney Dance Company who achieved a mesmerising feat of delicious intimacy  as they performed in front of the painting The Wrestlers – a painting then on show in Sydney from the Tate Gallery.

With this production of David Bintley’s FASTER, the Australian Ballet boldly break the grammar of classical ballet and explore the gutsy beauty of contemporary dance.

 

AUSTRALIAN HAYDN ENSEMBLE PRESENTS MELVYN TAN AND HAYDN’S PARIS @ CITY RECITAL HALL

 

Join the Australian Haydn Ensemble (AHE) and Artistic Director Skye McIntosh as they present one of the world’s greatest forte-pianists, Melvyn Tan, in a program inspired by the beauty and romance of classical Paris.

Melvyn Tan, a pioneer of performance on historical instruments is renowned for his ‘silvery virtuosity’.  Exploration, insight and imagination are vital ingredients in Melvyn Tan’s blend of artistic attributes.

Tan will perform the Mozart concerto No.18 in B flat major, written for the Parisian pianist, Maria Theresa von Paradis.

The Ensemble will also present the Australian premiere of a symphony by Chevalier de Saint-Georges, the legendary African Parisian violinist, director, swordsman, soldier and composer, known as The Black Mozart. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN HAYDN ENSEMBLE PRESENTS MELVYN TAN AND HAYDN’S PARIS @ CITY RECITAL HALL

DO YOUR PARENTS KNOW YOU’RE STRAIGHT @ THE CIVIC PLAYHOUSE

“It was a school anti-bullying program that became a lightning rod for culture warriors and conservative MP’s – Safe Schools was either protecting gay kids from bullies or trying to sell Marxism in the playground, depending on who was talking”
Michael Koziol – Artists Push PM for Diluted Safe Schools SMH 2/5/2017

The Safe Schools program was a “tinder box” so Australian artists like Missy Higgins, Guy Pearce and Joel Creasey are pushing the government for a modified version that promotes a simple, benign message – tolerance.

It’s gratifying when we see well-known artists stepping up to put their status and integrity behind worthy causes and public debate and seeing these stories and experiences become material for their own work.

No doubt Joel Creasey, who is originally from Newcastle incidentally, has some wonderful biting satirical reflections on how being “different” from others impacted on his time at school.

For that is part of what artists do. They observe, reflect on and respond to the social and political world around them and hold the mirror up to society in a manner that is engaging, entertaining and thought provoking. Frequently their own personal experiences are part of that reflection.

It’s an important job! Don’t let any Science, Engineering or Mathematics Degree wielding pedagogue tell you otherwise.

Ecelctic Productions DO YOUR PARENTS KNOW YOU’RE STRAIGHT writer and director Riley McLean openly admits “…so much of me has ended up on the page” even naming one of the main characters Riley. Assistant Director, Cassie Hamilton, presumably brings the same level of personal experience to the production.

Further developed from a class exercise during Riley’s studies at the Regional Institute of Performing Arts Diploma in Acting course whereby the students had to write a ten minute play, this two act full length production firmly takes the DYPKYS debate by the horns and gives it a good shake in a way that is complex, challenging and dramatically clever. Continue reading DO YOUR PARENTS KNOW YOU’RE STRAIGHT @ THE CIVIC PLAYHOUSE

GLORY : WILLOUGHBY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA IN CONCERT @ THE CONCOURSE

Featured image : Chilean born Composer in Residence Daniel Rojas.

This was a magnificent, thrilling performance by the combined forces of the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra and Choir under the umbrella title GLORY (no, not the song from Pippin) as conducted by maestro Simon Kenway.

Charismatic Kenway was energetic, enthusiastic and precise and introduced each of the three works briefly putting them in context. Under his baton the Orchestra was in fine form and displayed  a lyrical, warm tone.

The concert opened with a lush, intense presentation of Faure’s Pelléas and Mélisande, a suite in four movements of Faure’s music for Maternlick’s play.

The magical mysterious discovery of Melisande is described in the first section – the Prelude began in traditional French Baroque form, rather slow and stately with lush strings that ebbed and flowed throughout. The section featured stormy horns and woodwind.

In  the passionate second movement, Melisande at the spinning wheel  is evoked – you can hear the whirring as she spins.  Faure captures her charm and apparent innocence. Prick your ears to listen for the interplay of soprano and tenor melodies in conversation, especially when the second theme emerges from solo clarinet and horn. The oboe however is the primary ‘singer’ of this song without words.

The third section is the famous Sicilienne featuring a delicate, limpid flute solo, and the orchestra shimmering and bubbling.

Then came the turbulent finale of the death of Melisande, which was played at the end of Fauré’s funeral, as his coffin was carried from the church.

The next piece in the program was a Latin piano concerto by  Dr Daniel Rojas, Composer-in-Residence. Dr Rojas is renowned as an award-winning composer specialising in the Latin American aesthetic, as well as an acclaimed pianist with stunning live improvisations.

Chilean born, Rojas draws on his heritage and a broad musical palette that includes Latin American indigenous, folk, classical and popular traditions, as well as Western classical and jazz techniques.

His concerto blended refined classicism and explosive Latin -American rhythms in three challenging movements.

Rojas’ playing was very energetic and emphatic. He played with enormous authority and exceptional technique – at times shimmering and birdlike, at other times blisteringly fast and joyously explosive when it came to the Latin-American dance rhythms.

The first movement was a showcase for Rojas’ bravura playing, thoughtfully accompanied by the Orchestra. The second movement was more a dialogue between piano and orchestra and the third movement included achingly beautiful violin segments.

The thrilling dynamic work was brought to a breathless , exuberant finish . For this work Kenway was hidden from the view of most of the audience – he was behind the piano so the Orchestra could see him.

The audience applauded rapturously and for an encore we heard Rojas’ arrangement of the soulful, passionate Resureccion del Angel, by Astor Piazzolla.

After interval came the very strong and powerful performance of Poulenc’s Gloria , with Laura Scandizzo as soprano soloist .( Scandizzo has previously performed with the Willoughby Symphony in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony for their Joy concert) .Among other choreographers Sir Kenneth Macmillan and Graeme Murphy have used this work for their ballets . Poulenc’s work is short and intense. First performed in 1961 it is a setting of the Gloria from the Catholic Mass in Latin in six short movements. It is full of joy yet threading through it is humility and a luminous clarity.

The packed Choir and Orchestra were superb in a thrilling performance. From the start we become aware of its human focus yet grand scope – a lofty fanfare segues into a somewhat lighter register blowing away hints of royalty or superior aloofness penetrating chords contribute to the sense of continuing quest , but this ebbs as the choir becomes a corroborative authority figure over eddying strings. We are taken on a wheeling kaleidoscopic journey of emotions including wonder, jubilation and satisfaction as well as humility.

The opening was bright and stately the chorus entering with a prominent dotted figure to the word ‘Gloria’, which forms the basis of this movement.In the second movement Laudamus Te the choir bubbled and rippled with pairs of voices -; altos and basses , sopranos and tenors – exchanging a series of short, succinct phrases. In the Domine Deus,with its glorious flute accompaniment, Scandizzo was pleading, sombre and reflective. In the fourth movement the choir and orchestra combined in a lush thrilling blend of six bubbling melodies.

In the Domine Deus and Agnus Dei there was an ominous ticking sound underlying its relentless ,sweeping rhythms .Listen out for the eight point harmony of the Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris and the soaring final Amen as sung by Scandizzo and then echoed by the choir with haunting woodwind brings everything to a radiant conclusion.

Running time 2 hours 10 minutes (roughly) including interval.

GLORY by the Willoughby Symphony was at the Concourse April 29 & 30 2017

 

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