Music truly is the audible breath of ages. Marking its 10th anniversary in Australia, the Festival of Voices from 4 – 15th July is Tasmania’s landmark winter cultural event, offering an extraordinary array of talented singers, choirs and musicians who come from far and wide to Hobart to help provide the heat!
So it’s time to get out your winter woollies, don those scarves and beanies and head down south where the sounds of music, a powerful form of communication vital to our inner well being, will be sure to warm you through and through.
Bringing people of all cultures and communities together to create an environment that is enriching in the way we live in it and deal with each other is always emboldening.
CEO Paul Kooperman said when launching the 2014 program “…we’re thrilled to present some of the world’s most exciting artists in Hobart, to perform, collaborate and learn from a dynamic community of singers and choirs joining us from across the world.”
Tex Perkins was commissioned to write a ‘love song for Tasmania’ for the festival. He unveiled his song for Tasmania, entitled Come and See at the launch of the festival.
He was no doubt inspired by the beauty of its surroundings, welcoming hospitality, stunning scenery and the extraordinary experience of a life well lived that is integral to Tasmania.
Perkins’s sound of Tasmania is a languid waltz, strummed on crisp strings with a palpable air of longing. “It’s pure and it’s clean,” sings Tex Perkins. “You know it when you feel it”.
Perkins landmark Man in Black concert in 2013 received standing ovations. He brought to life the hard-living country music legend Johnny Cash, delving into the pain, love and loss that followed Cash’s musical career, while marking a milestone in Tex’s own musical journey.
The Festival of Voices in Hobart is Australia’s premiere community celebration of the human voice.
Its artists will deliver a program that nurtures society and all its senses.
Whether your taste is for choral or cabaret, story-telling or hip hop: whether you want to learn, perform or just sit back and enjoy, you’ll find something that resonates loud and long for you.
Utilizing Hobart’s finest venues, the Festival of Voices offers two streams – Performance Program and Workshop Series Program, making it a truly transformative experience of participation and involvement, setting it apart from other festivals.
Choral highlights include the aria award winner folk pop singer/songwriter Clare Bowditch.
For three magical hours you can be part of a special group of singers learning two songs with Clare that you will then deliver in performance at her concert, also at Federation Hall. Those going to Hobart can also expect daily ‘pop’ up performances in surprising places around the town, with the locals cheering them on.
One such local is Emma Bennison, a lady with unique gifts who will perform her ‘Fine Line’ concert @The Barn.
Emma offers a performance of poignant, funny and thought-provoking original songs and stories. We previously worked together in Brisbane, where her a capella group was renowned for its purity of sound.
As CEO of Arts Access Australia from relationships to leadership, advocacy to intimacy, Emma ensures that no stone is left unturned in the telling of her extraordinary personal journey.
Audiences will be treated to stunning vocals and honest lyrics which offer a refreshing take on some universal themes from Emma’s unique perspective as a wife, mother, sister, CEO and active disability rights advocate (who also happens to be blind).
Emma witnesses daily the barriers, which still exist to full and equal access to the arts for, people with disability as audiences, artists and arts and cultural leaders.
She has seen first-hand the impact that high-quality work created by artists with disability can have on changing community perceptions of the contribution people with disability can, and do make to the arts.
Those travelling to Hobart will find that it welcomes singers from Australia and beyond as Big World Small Voices brings together the bilingual voices of 30 young Tasmanian and Shanghai singers aged ten to seventeen.
Planned in Shanghai and created in Hobart, this unique a cappella choir will sing their socks off in a free performance at MONA‘s atmospheric Nolan Gallery before heading to China for a repeat offering at the 2015 Shanghai Spring International Music Festival.
The internationally renowned choral conductor David Lawrence is returning to once again guide his Festival’s Choral Workshop Choir over a five-day workshop through to performance with the Hobart Chamber Orchestra as it performs Mozart’s Requiem Concert
The requiem is a masterpiece of intense drama, immense power and soul searching tenderness, which is sure to delight all classical music lovers
Cabaret is a firm favourite at this festival and for those who are game enough to step inside the historic Hobart City Hall will find it magically transformed for the festival into a den of red velvet, dirty cocktails and musical debauchery.
There they will also discover the delights of Voice Box curated by award winning, New York based cabaret star Kim Smith.
Acclaimed soprano and cabaret star Ali McGregor will just one in a fantastic array of artists to be shimmying between the worlds of opera, jazz and pop
She will present her favourite party pieces from her days as a principal soprano with Opera Australia. Then there are the jazz and pop reinventions she made her own after running away with the cabaret circus.
A firm believer that a good song is a good song no matter what genre, Ali can move and amuse like no other with her incredible range and wicked humour.
Cabaret Queen Meow Meow, of ‘no fixed’ abode will also be there to present her critically acclaimed mix of drag, chanson and performance art.
Led by world-renowned artists and hundreds of choristers around a blazing bonfire all Hobart is invited to join in and share the stage with festival guests
One of Australia’s highly acclaimed male vocal ensembles, The Spooky Men’s Chorale basically a rugby size choir of boofy blokes, will hold a workshop as a sing-along around a roaring bonfire and a concert at the Port Arthur Historic Site
We live in an expanding global culture now and detailed studies of the social and economic benefits of such events are becoming a matter of public record, revealing how imperative they are to the growth of local, national and international life and economies.
A nation is not defined locally but continually and music is all about a nation and its ‘spirit’… it has been proven medically to provide an atmosphere wherein calm can prevail in our busy world.
Tasmania is certainly embracing its idea of being a special place in the world to hold such great music events. Hobart is a great city, a creative city, one of great optimism and a crucible for change.
It’s such a jewel in Australia’s crown and contains a myriad of architectural gems as well as a warm and friendly population, who live life at a pace those of us who live in big cities on the mainland can only dream about and wish for.
Great events like the Festival of Voices in Tasmania help to develop abilities and skills that assist participants to value add to both local corporate and community life, as well as to contribute towards the greater good of the nation. They transform learning and lives.
It’s good to see the solid corporate sponsorship this festival has achieved. Taking on social responsibility brings with it productivity and profit.
While consumption and acquisition dominated the last decade of the 20th and first decade of the 21st century, people’s well-being and fulfillment is at last taking centre stage.
Marvellous music is also about celebrating our hard-won freedoms as creators, not just consumers, and augurs well for both Tasmania and Australia’s future.
If you haven’t been to Tassie before the one thing to know about the city of Hobart is that despite the cold, the welcome will indeed be very warm.
4 – 13 July, 2014, Hobart, Tasmania
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2014