This year’s Sydney Festival features 179 great events, performances, music and shows. Wondering where to begin? Let’s start with 85 FREE events, 25 indoor and outdoor venues with over 400 performances, and a plethora of international and local artists in theatre, dance and music. No wonder this city is definitely not one to be missed during January 2-26.
Music takes centre stage in 2015 as some of the globe’s most exciting artists of our generation take over Sydney stages. Brazil’s superstar Seu Jorge brings his signature mix of transformative pop covers and swinging original tunes from Rio’s favelas to Australia for the first time. Jorge brings a myriad of musical genres with tunes flavoured with samba, reggae, Brazilian pop and electronics.
Not-to-be-missed headline artist James Thierrée returns to Sydney Festival with Tabac Rouge, his largest and most extravagant work to date. Acrobat, musician, dancer, actor, and choreographer – Thierrée is recognised as one of the world’s greatest and most creative contemporary circus performers. A world premiere and new Australian theatre work by Kate Mulvany lovingly brings to life the iconic children’s book Masquerade by Kit Williams. Beautifully crafted by the award-winning playwright and actor, this magical tale will enchant audiences aged nine to 90. An Australian exclusive, Kiss & Cry is a sweeping cinematic romance with a twist, starring a duo of dexterous, dancing hands. Moving with poetic precision, this sensual, small-scale ballet must be seen to be believed.
Sydney Festival 2015 will play host to a wide range of diverse cultures with artists coming to Sydney from across the globe. From India, director Roysten Abel returns to bring us The Kitchen, a sumptuous, multi-sensory spectacle of smells and sounds, culminating in something sensational for the taste buds. From Sri Lanka, Chitrasena Dance Company makes its first Australian visit in 40 years as the country’s oldest and most prestigious dance ensemble presents an art-form 2,500 years in the making. The sounds of Africa will have everyone on their feet to the futuristic grooves of Nigerian synth pioneer and music legend William Onyeabor, in Atomic Bomb!
Hyde Park’s hugely popular Festival Village returns with a variety of thrilling circus and cabaret shows, activities and almost 40 contemporary music performances. Open day and night, the Village is an oasis of arts, eats, beats and other treats, and the perfect place to plan a day out with the family, catch a show, and enjoy the balmy summer nights in the centre of our city. Audiences can enjoy all the entertainment on offer in the magnificent surrounds of The Famous Spiegeltent and newest addition The Aurora Spiegeltent, and climb through Maser’s multi-dimensional giant art installation, Higher Ground. Rising up two storeys, the work’s colourful explosion of stripes and shapes is the closest thing you will get to stepping into a painting.
Popping up in Darling Harbour for the enjoyment of the young and not-so-young alike, Waterfall Swing is a large scale summertime playset with one crucial twist – using clever sensory programming it lets you swing right through the waterfall.
In Sydney’s inner west, Carriageworks opens its doors to a variety of sonic adventures in the dynamic new addition to the 2015 program, Sound/On Sound. From large scale art installations to performance, theatre and music: Sound/On Sound features four world premiere works, including an immersive large scale paper labyrinth by acclaimed British artist Mira Calix, an affecting new Australian work by Tamara Saulwick, a chilling monodrama by David Chisholm based on text by Mark Ravenhill, and a moving depiction of loneliness by Greg Barrett. Sound/On Sound offers new listening experiences where hearing is believing as voice, poetic compositions, and electronic beats are released to echo through the beautiful Carriageworks spaces.
In the CBD, the temperature continues to rise in The Domain with four large-scale concerts. A special Summer Sounds in The Domain concert with Seu Jorge will have the South American superstar’s samba sounds kickstarting summer in Brazilian style. Symphony in The Domain this year has a very special new addition with ARIA-award winning William Barton on didgeridoo alongside the Sydney Symphony. Opera in The Domain this year showcases the brightest operatic stars singing under the stars against the city skyline.
And a very special highlight and first time addition: triple j, Sydney Festival and Fuzzy present Beat the Drum: celebrating 40 years of triple j. A once in a lifetime event to celebrate four decades of passionate support for the best in Australian music, the stellar line-up will feature Hilltop Hoods, The Presets, The Cat Empire, The Preatures, You Am I and many more of the best Australian musicians today.
Parramatta Opening Party is back with free music opening the season in summertime style with a joyous, street celebration on and around Centenary Square. Headlined by Paul Kelly and friends in his new collaborative project The Merri Soul Sessions, this year is big on soulful sounds. Another Parra highlight: Far From Folsom. In a world premiere and unforgettable music experience, Tex Perkins heads behind bars to embody the spirit of Johnny Cash. Delving into the country music star’s dark repertoire, he recreates his seminal 1968 Folsom Prison shows within the haunting surrounds of Parramatta Gaol.
“What’s really special about Sydney Festival is the diverse programming, with the best local and international artists from high arts – opera, theatre, and contemporary dance, to circus and family shows, and a whole range of free activities. The 2015 Festival looks to be one of the biggest ever. Living up to its tag line ‘This is Our City in Summer’, Sydney Festival gives audiences the perfect excuse to celebrate the city in summer,” says Sydney Festival Director Lieven Bertels.
Yes, there is so much to see in this year’s Sydney Festival, but to help check out their website and my top picks below to help you get started.
My top highlights: