2014 has been big for music at Sydney Opera House. Nils Frahm, The National, Angus and Julia Stone, Iron and Wine and Rodriguez (to name just a handful) have played the Concert Hall’s iconic stage. Now, music at the House has launched its upcoming summer program. Twenty performances between December and April will include huge acts that span contemporary classical, complex indie rock, world music and electronica.
Highlights include the controversial live antics and haunting vocals of Sinead O’Connor, Mogwai’s brooding, cinematic post-rock, electronic shoegaze from Caribou and the genre-defying fusion of Flying Lotus. Enchanting vocals will be brought by Lykke Li and Ben Howard, while world, funk and soul are well represented by Angélique Kidjo, Rodrigo Y Gabriela and The Gipsy Kings. In Dreams: David Lynch Revisited, lauded earlier this year at London’s Barbican, opens with director David Coulter sawing a log in half, then using that saw to play the theme song to The Elephant Man. Not to be missed by fans of Lynchian sound design (or perhaps the baffling work of John Cage), this epic homage is a centrepiece of this year’s launch and features a variety of home-grown and international talents.
Ben Marshall, head of contemporary music at the Opera House, describes the mystifying In Dreams as, “Another example of the sort of work that only the Opera House can do.
“Artistic excellence is what we were after this year,” he says. This summer’s program is certainly indicative of the Concert Hall’s importance as both a sonic and social space; in Marshall’s words, its ability to, “Champion and connect audiences with seminal artists.”
By elevating contemporary musicians to this celebrated stage, Music at the House asserts their importance. Deep-house acts such as Little Dragon and Flying Lotus, often reserved for club settings, feel at home in the Concert Hall. “Artistically, they actually should be sitting next to the best operas in the world,” says Marshall.
A week at the Opera House might bear witness to a children’s show, a world-class orchestra, a Russian ballet and then indie electronica. For Marshall, including contemporary artists in the program is a matter of, “Sustaining those classical art forms while representing cultural aspiration.”
This summer the digital program will also be expanded, with in-depth mini documentaries and public performances available for online streaming.
“Because we choose the artists so carefully, this digital platform is a great way to explain why they’ve been selected,” says Marshall. The video content will explore technical mastery and the nature of each artist’s creative practice, available for viewing worldwide.
The announcement of these artists are in addition to previously slated acts including: Violent Femmes, Ben Foster and Tim Hecker, Asgeir and Fat Freddy’s Drop.
Tickets go on sale Monday November 10 at 9am.