So much to celebrate in a crowded schedule that stretches way beyond the boundaries of western Sydney. The first cab off the rank is La Stupenda – a voice eternal, a concert that is a highlight of the 25th anniversary year of the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, at Penrith. At the Joan’s official opening in 1990 Joan Sutherland performed her last ever concert recital, accompanied by her husband Richard Bonynge. The tribute concert 25 years later features some of Australia’s leading classical musicians and vocalists, including The Song Company, outstanding Opera Australia singer Amelia Farrugia, celebrated didgeridoo player William Barton and a world premiere performance of a new work by Elena Kats-Chernin. An elegant night of fine music, wine and canapés. Bookings and information.
Perhaps the concert is not quite the first cab. After several years of campaigning, Parramatta Female Factory Friends has notified supporters its petition has reached the requisite 10,000. Those who signed the petition requesting a parliamentary debate about the protection of the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct, are invited to gather outside NSW Parliament House, 11am Thursday, August 20. The Friends will present the petition to parliament and invite you join them in the presentation. Although not essential, it would be helpful if planning to attend that you rsvp to firstname.lastname@example.org with Yes in the subject.
The program for the 2015 Sydney Sacred Music Festival has just been announced. This year is the fifth consecutive year of the festival, to be conducted at venues throughout Sydney, and running from September 5 to 20. The festival will open with Sacred Exchange, in the Lennox Theatre, Riverside Theatres, Parramatta. Australia’s Grand Master of the Japanese Shakuhachi, Riley Lee will lead the program and will be followed by Mongolian throat singer and horse fiddle player Bukhu Ganburged (pictured left), the golden voice of Uyghur bard, Shohrat Tursun, Sufi violinist Asim Gorashi and Australia’s leading exponent of the Indian tabla, Bobby Singh. The five performers will demonstrate their sacred traditions through solo performances and discussion and then come together to create a unique interfaith performance, directed by Richard Petkovic.
Three of the performers – Bukhu, Shohrat and Asim – are members of Sydney World Music Chamber Orchestra, which was launched at last year’s festival and has just finished recording its first CD.The 2015 festival includes a sunrise chanting workshop at Bankstown, a Baha’i choral concert at Mona Vale, the high end jazz/Indian music fusion of Sandy Evan’s Kapture in the Blue Mountains, the dance fusion of tango and flamenco in Newtown and the uniting of Sufi Qawwali and electronic dance music at Campbelltown. Click here for program information and bookings.
Sydney Sacred Music Festival is always a richly rewarding experience and gives prominence to some of the extraordinary talent residing in Sydney’s suburbs, especially the west.
Last but not least come the 21st birthday celebrations of Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre. It was officially opened on October 29, 1994, after a period of five years of intense work by Susan Conroy, who became Liverpool Council’s first cultural planner. In fact she was the first cultural planner in Australia to be appointed by a local government. In 1992, she was joined by John Kirkman, who ultimately became the first director of the Powerhouse. In an inspired partnership and under the political leadership of then mayor Mark Latham, they turned the building from an almost derelict space to one of Sydney’s leading contemporary arts centres.
As present director, Kiersten Fishburn says, “In 21 years, we’ve grown and changed but the core of commitment to community and to western Sydney artists that was established by Susan Conroy and John Kirkman, initiating and first directing the centre, remains true.” Above is a photo of past and present staff published on the current front cover of CPAC’s periodical Generator. In the front row, second from left, is Kiersten, with John Kirkman, centre, alongside Susan Conroy.
Artists and community members engaged with programs range from Aboriginal to a great diversity of cultural backgrounds. David Capra is curating a 21st birthday bash for Casula Powerhouse on October 17 and everyone is invited. Party Party Party will be the opening night of 21, an exhibition celebrating the successful careers of 21 highly respected Australian artists who have shown at Casula Powerhouse during its formative years. 21 will continue to November 29. For more CPAC information click here.
The background to many of these stories can be found in my book Passion Purpose Meaning – Arts Activism in Western Sydney. None of these milestones occurred without a struggle, but their success is inspirational. Check the Book page on this blog and use the blog’s search facility for more information.