In 2012, Brett Sheehy directs his fourth and final Melbourne Festival. Exploring the threads of ‘identity' and ‘place’, this year’s music program features works from some of the finest Australian and international artists.
The contemporary music program - co-curated by Artistic Associates Tom Supple and Hannah Fox - begins on the first weekend of the Festival with Antony and the Johnsons performing Swanlights. Originally commissioned by New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Swanlights is a transcendental work that sees the sublime vocals of Antony backed by a 44-piece orchestra and an unforgettable visual aesthetic. Previously staged in January at the illustrious Radio City Music Hall, it was originally intended as a one-off work of art, but will be reprised exclusively for Melbourne Festival at Hamer Hall. In addition to Swanlights, the festival will host an intimate exhibition of Antony’s personal artworks.
The Festival will play host to some of the world’s most legendary and seminal musicians with a sweep of Australian premieres including one of the true icons of alternative music, Sonic Youth frontman Thurston Moore, complimented onstage at Hamer Hall by an ensemble including harp and violin. Supporting Thurston will be Kid Sam’s Kieran Ryan, accompanied by delicately layered instrumentation. Fellow Sonic Youth bandmate and one of the world’s greatest guitarists, Lee Ranaldo will bring his powerful and ever-changing live show to the Hi Fi, and will be supported by Sydney shoegazers The Laurels.
Abrasive, wild and fiercely independent, minimalist punk provocateurs Shellac descend on Melbourne for two rare live appearances at the Hi Fi. Returning to Melbourne for their first Australian shows since their 1993 tour with Fugazi, Shellac will supported by local bands My Disco and Black Level Embassy.
The festival will host a blistering double headliner show from Seattle based jazz, funk and soul-inflected hip hop duo THEESatisfaction, and New Orleans booty queens Big Freedia & The Divas. Keeping things flowing between acts will be party-smashers Grouse Party DJs. This electric evening is guaranteed to free minds and bounce behinds.
In collaboration with the curators of Melbourne’s Sugar Mountain Festival comes Bermuda Float, an electro-psych aquatic odyssey. The sunset boat cruise will feature USA psychedelic pop six-piece Puro Instinct and Melbourne’s NO ZU, combining an intoxicating mix of trumpets, percussion, abrasive guitars and chanted Australiana.
Modern day troubadour Billy Bragg comes to the Melbourne Festival this year with two special performances: one celebrating the legacy and 100th anniversary of the birth of Woody Guthrie, and the second will see Billy perform a selection from his own incredible back catalogue.
Having been in development for over 12 months, Melbourne Festival will host the world premier of Conversations with Ghosts. Iconic Australian musician Paul Kelly will join recorder virtuoso Genevieve Lacey, electronic soundscapist James Ledger, and 10 ANAM musicians to present an evening of beautiful and atmospheric music which touches on the theme of death and mortality.
Film and music collide at this year’s Melbourne Festival as Lee Ranaldo takes to the stage once more joined by a unique assortment of talented musicians in ensemble Text of Light, performing alongside the films of Stan Brakhage, one of cinema’s true masters of the avant-garde.
ACMI and Greater Union will host Art Matters…on Film, a program of international films curated by Richard Moore, containing several documentaries that examine the world of music: Turning, a collaboration between Antony (Antony and the Johnsons) and Charles Atlas; Grandma Lo-Fi: The Basement Tapes of Sigridur Nielsdottir follows a 70 woman year old as she embarks on a new music career; Andrew Bird: Fever Year captures the struggles of the indie troubadour in a fly-on-the-wall rockumentary; Last Days Here follows a fan’s attempt to coax a has-been rocker back onto the stage; and four years in the making, Anton Corbijn Inside Out pries deep into the psyche of this intensely private man renowned for his impact on the visuals of popular music.
Melbourne Festival 2012 Contemporary Music Program
Friday 12th - Conversations With Ghosts - Paul Kelly,
Genevieve Lacey, James Ledger & ANAM
Friday 12th - Swanlights - Antony and the Johnsons
Saturday 13th - Swanlights - Antony and the Johnsons
Saturday 13th - Conversations With Ghosts - Paul Kelly,
Genevieve Lacey, James Ledger & ANAM
Thursday 18th - TheeSatisfaction, Big Freedia & The Divas, Grouse DJs
Friday 19th - Billy Bragg - Woody 100
Friday 19th - Shellac, My Disco
Saturday 20th - Shellac, Black Level Embassy
Saturday 20th - Billy Bragg - An Evening With...
Wednesday 24th - Lee Ranaldo, The Laurels
Thursday 25th - Thurston Moore, Kieran Ryan
Friday 26th - Bermuda Float - Puro Instinct, NO ZU
For tickets and more information please visit melbournefestival.com.au.