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    What is Vivid Festival?

    To put it simply, the Vivid Sydney Festival is the largest light and music festival in the Southern Hemisphere, and a major celebration of the world’s creative industries.

    The festival is relatively young – it turns three this year – but is undeniably one of the most unique events on Sydney’s annual calendar, and definitely amongst the coolest things to happen to this gorgeous city. This year will be its biggest yet, so you can guarantee everyone involved will be pulling out all stops to make this an unforgettable experience.

    Within the festivals duration (27 May – 13 June) our city will evolve into a one-of-a-kind spectacle with light, fire, and art installations transforming the most loved corners of the city, including the Sydney Opera House, Circular Quay, The Rocks, and even some suburbs in the inner-west.

    Sydney Opera House will serve as the epicentre of Vivid Festival, with the traditional lighting of the sails, and the forward-thinking ‘Vivid Live’ line-up – consisting of some of the most revered acts in popular music, including Bat for Lashes and 2ManyDJs.

    Last year, over 300,000 people flocked to the city to take part in the many events offered by Vivid Festival. This year, it is expected that number will be in excess of 400,000 people – if you aren’t one of those people then, well... Why the hell not!?

    This festival will brag some of the most dazzling art installations you will ever see, and offer some awesome adventures that won’t be available any other time – once it’s gone, it’s gone – next year it will grow larger and offer something different, so jump on the bandwagon now, and get excited! It’s going to be an amazing ride.

    In addition to immersive light installations and projections there will be: free family events; a variety of music performances and collaborations (many with an accompanying visual aspect); creative ideas, public talks, and debates from some of the leading figures in the world’s creative industries.

    As mentioned above, there will be a lighting of the Sydney Opera House sails, and this is one event that will leave millions around the globe in awe – we get to witness it up close.

    Lighting of the Sydney Opera House Sails

    The focal point of this festival, which will see Sydney as the creative hub of the Asia Pacific, is undeniably the lighting of the Sydney Opera House sails, which is watched by millions around the world. Each year since this festival's conception, an artist/artists is selected to offer their creative input to what should be projected onto the Opera House sails – the legendary Brian Eno and Laurie Anderson have both been given the honour in the past – this year, the honour goes to French-based artist collective Superbien, who are lauded for their innovative digital projections.

    This is not something one would want to miss. Something to not only remind us of just how beautiful Sydney is, but also see this beauty reach new heights as the world witnesses this one-of-a-kind art display – and I reiterate, we get to see it up close!

    Vivid Sydney’s executive producer, Ignatius Jones, describes this event perfectly in the quote: “At Vivid Sydney, creativity changed everything. There is nothing more thrilling than seeing the Sydney Opera House transformed into a canvas of bright colours and breathtaking images – one of the world’s most famous buildings singing and dancing in a way that few great monuments ever could.”

    Superbien will convey a multi-dimensional, multi-sensory show on the Opera House nightly from 6pm during the festival’s dates – Friday, May 27 to Monday, June 13.

    Some of Suberbien’s works can be viewed at their homepage:

    Vivid Live

    Stephen “Pav” Pavlovic, the founder of the renowned label Modular People, has been selected to curate the Vivid Live line-up for 2011, and has managed to procure some of the most exciting acts in music. From May 27 – June 5 all these acts will invade Sydney Opera House to showcase some of the best local and international talent in music today.

    The full line-up includes: 2ManyDJs; Architecture in Helsinki; The Avalanches; Azari & III; Bat For Lashes; Chris Cunningham; Club Kooky; The Crystal Ark; Cut Copy; Hypnotic Brass Ensemble; Leave Them All Behind; OFWGKTA (Odd Future); Sneaky Sunday; Sonny Rollins; Spiritualized (performing Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space in its entirety); Tame Impala; Tom Kuntz; Wu Lyf; Yo Gabba Gabba; Canyons; The Swiss; Beni; DOM; Little Dragons; Van She; Flight Facilities; Softwar; Bamboo Music; Changes; Bag Raiders

    Tickets are on sale now and selling fast, so act now and save yourself from future regret!

    If you are one of those who ‘lives under a rock’, or is a bit new to the scene, the following will entice you to get up to speed with some of the stand-out acts for Vivid Live 2011:

    2ManyDJs: Belgium’s 2ManyDJs is the DJ form of creative dance-rock band Soulwax, and a name that is constantly seen at the top of the line-ups for some of the world’s biggest and best music festivals. They were last seen on these shores for last year’s Parklife Festival, and were arguably the highlight. 2ManyDJs boast one of the best DJ sets in the world, and really know what the crowd want; take it from someone who has seen them live numerous times – their track selection (which will appeal to ‘pop-heads’ and ‘hipsters’ alike), mixed with some of the best visuals you will ever see for a DJ set, will create a party atmosphere like no other. They are playing The Studio in Sydney Opera House for 60 bucks with Changes and Beni on support duties (4 June 2011)!

    Bat For Lashes: Bat For Lashes (singer Natasha Khan) is a gorgeous singer and multi-instrumentalist from England whose two albums, Fur and Gold, and Two Suns, have been hailed as some of the most beautiful LPs of the 21st Century. She is, for many, one of the best singers today, and every piece of her work is a rare pleasure for your aural senses. She has received acclaim from megastars like Muse’s Matt Bellamy, M.I.A, and Radiohead. Her voice creates an atmosphere like no other - she will be doing so as she performs with a full string quartet in Sydney Opera House’s concert hall on TWO separate occasions (3 June and 4 June 2011).

    Chris Cunningham: UK’s Chris Cunningham is a video artist, music video director, and music producer, who has worked with the likes of Stanley Kubrick, Aphex Twin, The Horrors, and Bjork. I, for one, have no idea what to expect of his live performance, and am beyond excited to see how he will use his surroundings at Sydney Opera House to give us a live show that will, no doubt, be one of the most entertaining adventures of 2011. He will be taking over the Opera Theatre on 5 June 2011.

    Sonny Rollins: Jazz-heads will need no introduction to this man, but for the rest, all you need to know is that he is one of the most important figures in Jazz music. Sonny Rollins is the most iconic tenor saxophonist in the world, and many of his immortal compositions remain some of the most loved Jazz pieces you will find. He will be celebrating his 80th Birthday live on stage in the Concert Hall on 2 June 2011.

    Cut Copy: One of Australia’s best and brightest dance-rock bands has continually evolved since their debut album, Bright Like Neon Love and have become one of the leading synth-pop bands, not only in Australia, but in the world. Their style takes the best parts of the 80s, 90s and 00s dance scenes and combines them with well-written indie pop tunes, which are constantly topping the Australian, and international, charts. If you are amongst the many concert-goers in Australia then you have probably seen them live at least once – but how often will you get to see them play Sydney Opera House (where the sound is unrivalled)? They will be playing Concert Hall 29 May 2011.

    OFWGKTA (Odd Future): Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, or Odd Future for short, is the most exciting up-and-coming hip-hop collectives that the world has seen in a long time. They are the rebellious sons which the scene desperately needs, and they have come to shake things up, stretching the limits of hip-hop while giving the industry a huge middle finger, doing whatever they want, whenever they want. The most recognisable face from the futuristic gang is probably Tyler, The Creator – a 20 year old, innovative rapper/producer from L.A, who made a massive impact on the hip-hop world with his viral hit "Yonkers" (the video has been praised by many forward-thinking rappers such as Kanye West). Not to overshadow though, the gang are made up of some extremely talented rapper/producers like Earl Sweatshirt, Left Brain, and Domo Genesis, who are guaranteed to give you a show you won’t soon forget. They will be taking over The Studio at Sydney Opera House THREE times, each on 29 May, 1 June and 2 June 2011.

    In addition to the above, each and every artist on this line-up is guaranteed to give you their all at the Sydney Opera House. From hyped alternative-rock band DOM, to the classic space-rock band Spiritualized, performing their seminal third album in full. These are some of the best gigs you will see all year, and with the very unique touch of Vivid Live behind them, these events will not soon be forgotten.

    More Info and tickets available from:

    The Sony Lounge

    The Sony Lounge will be the pop-up bar of Vivid Sydney, set up in the Western Foyers of the Opera House, at which you will get much more personal with the artists and creative luminaries behind this festival.

    You can just chill out and have a drink while enjoying their ever-changing menu of DJs, or you can use this as an opportunity to network like crazy and work in collaboration with some of the most creative people in the Southern Hemisphere to birth new ideas and delve further into the creative fields.

    More stuff to expect from Vivid Sydney

    Vivid Sydney will feature 45 light installations around The Rocks and Circular Quay; a fire spectacular at Campbell’s Cove; illuminated skyscrapers and buildings around Sydney; and 24 immersive and interactive light sculptures.
    The light sculptures, which have been created by both Australian and international artists, architects, and lighting designers, will focus on using low energy technology to promote the conservation of energy.

    There will be architectural lighting on some of Sydney’s most prominent buildings around Circular Quay and throughout The Rocks. Sydney Opera House and Customs House will be featuring cutting-edge 3D lighting projections as well.

    The fire spectacular, ‘Fire Dance,’ that will take place at Campbell’s Cove, will result in some extraordinary displays using fire and water that will be a sight that has to be seen to be believed.

    Inner-west suburbs, from Surry Hills to Marrickville, will host satellite events, including exhibitions, performances, live gigs, fashion showcases and more.

    The light sculpture artists who will be displaying their works throughout Sydney are:
    - Angela Chong (Singapore)
    - Edwin Cheong (Singapore)
    - ARUP (Australia)
    - Ruth McDermott and Ben Baxter (Australia)
    - Andrew Daly and Katherine Fife (Australia)
    - Cornelia Erdmann (Hong Kong)
    - Hannah Groft and Jason Glenwright (Australia)
    - Haron Robson (Australia)
    - Simone Lee, Aamer Taher and Pascal Petitjean (Australia, France, Singapore)
    - Joe Snell (Australia)
    - Paul Johnson and Gail Mason (New Zealand)
    - Jon Voss (Australia)
    - Mary-Anne Kyriakou (Australia)
    - Mark Hammer and Andres Kecskes (Australia)
    - Liam Ryan, Frank Macquire and Jason McDermott (Australia)
    - Sun Yu Li (Singapore)
    - Fiona Venn and Reinhard Germer (Australia)
    - Woodhead Design Group (Australia)
    - Clouston Associates (Australia)
    - Andrew Daly and Katherine Fife (Australia)
    - Martin Bevz (Australia)
    - Zymrite Hoxjaj (Germany)

    More on this, including image-previews of the light sculptures, is available at the official vivid website:

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    It is not going to be possible to construct a review of tonight’s show at The Melbourne Town Hall without gushing, and so I only hope that by the end of this article you will understand the reasons why. Someone who works as a music critic spends many nights a week out, listening to music of all styles in stadiums, theatres, pubs, bars, etc., watching groups both sublime and horrendous; however tonight’s performance was nothing short of incredible, and was certainly one of the most enjoyable this reviewer has seen in living memory - you were warned.

    In his eightieth year on the planet, appearing as headline act of the Melbourne Jazz Festival was none other than ‘The Saxophone Colossus’, Sonny Rollins. Since his initial recordings in 1949 (which have been credited as being the first examples of Hard Bop), to his key collaborations with Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and Thelonius Monk, Rollins has been responsible for changing not only the way that the tenor saxophone is approached, but jazz music itself.

    Resplendent in a large red shirt and dark sunglasses, Sonny Rollins shuffled onstage resembling an old owl; his posture bent, presumably from years of dedicated saxophone- posture. Tonight he was accompanied by a very able quintet of guitarist Peter Bernstein, Bob Cranshaw on electric bass, drummer Kobie Watkins and Sammy Figueroa on percussion. Having first pioneered the sax and rhythm section format in 1957, prior to which piano had always been a key accompaniment, tonight’s addition of percussion helped to add a latin flavour to the proceedings, the interplay between Figueroa and Watkins being a key a ingredient to the sound.

    Although obviously far from a virile man, as soon as the playing began, with “Newark News”, Rollins, as well as the rest of his group, became energised; a wireless microphone clipped to his instrument allowing him to move around the stage, ducking and strutting to throw the groove. The band, when their brows weren’t furrowed with concentration, were constantly smiling, obviously enjoying the moment. During the many generous solos that Rollins gave to the instrumentalists he stood to the side nodding in agreement, his mouth visibly scatting along over the rhythm. It was evident from the get- go that those gathered onstage live, breath and love jazz music, as there is really no way to fake the kind of genuine emotion and joy that was displayed through each of their playing for the hour long set.

    The quintet skipped through pieces from throughout Rollins’ career, moving through influences of calypso, bop, and classic jazz, using an exciting combination of tempos, with song structures being used mostly as a template for their fast paced improvisation. Whilst the set was definitely eclectic, everything sat together perfectly; the patter of the hand drums filling in the spaces, always complimenting the drum kit, whilst Cranshaw’s bass remained a constant middle point around which the chaos evolved. Bernstein traded lines with Rollins, their instruments engaged in a conversation so beautiful that it didn’t matter if the listener didn’t speak the language, the guitarist’s virtuosic jazz style providing a counterpoint to the older man’s sharp bursts, and simultaneously sweet and chaotic soloing.

    Although highlights are hard to pinpoint, it was thirty-six year old Watkins who provided perhaps the most hair raising moment of the night. During a drum solo that lasted for a good seven minutes, Watkins proved himself to be one of the best jazz drummers in the world today- on more than one occasion my jaw literally dropped in amazement.

    Before leaving the stage Rollins shuffled to the microphone to inform us of his golden rule “do unto others as you want them to do to you”, quite fitting for a musician who became popular during times of segregation, the same man who wrote “The Freedom Suite”. The band then launched into their final number, “Don’t Stop the Carnival”, during which the eighty year old came alive with even more energy than had hitherto been displayed. He was positively dancing around the stage, leaning down to stare at the front row while he delivered guttural low notes, before craning back in exclamation on the higher notes, seemingly pulling an incredible variety of notes out of thin air.

    This performance was an experience that will surely not be forgotten by those fortunate enough to have witnessed one of the greats of 20th century music, live at The Melbourne Town Hall.

    Photo by Mark Peterson