Arts entrepreneur and artistic director Leo Schofield AM (left) has been a significant figure in Australia’s arts and cultural life over many decades. Audiences for nigh on half a century have gradually learned to rely on his intuitive ability to lead trends and to present the very best performances for their entertainment pleasure.
Now he and business partner Australian producer and executive director Jarrod Carland have officially launched their new musical initiative, promising that we will be ‘gobsmacked’.
Sydney Sings, an international festival of the voice will be exclusive to Leo’s hometown, providing opportunities for both Australian and International vocal talent to showcase their talents. Some 700 performers of all ages and all backgrounds are expected to participate.
Designed to dazzle audiences with daring and imagination, including some serious song and shower singing, the festival will be held over 11 days from July 28 – August 7, 2016 in various venues including the City Recital Hall, Town Hall, Government House, Joan Sutherland PAC, Martin Place, Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney Opera House, St Mary’s Cathedral, St Patrick’s Cathedral at Parramatta, the State Theatre, and University of Sydney.
Leo Schofield at every stage in his creative career has sought to keep standards high with excellence always his goal, providing both an economic and social dividend for Australia as a whole. At 81, it’s good to see that he is so vitally active, contributing as always to Australia’s arts and cultural growth.
Festivals like Sydney Sings ‘raise public consciousness of the arts in all their forms’, and as long as those managing ensure quality over quantity, maintain artistic integrity and find the right balance between the program being both a challenge and a comfort for the audience, they succeed.
In our multi-cultural society Sydney Sings will represent every state and territory of Australia and reflect our diversity in musical achievements, while showcasing and shaping our ever-changing international cultural identity and its expression.
This is good news for the many vocalists who pass through Conservatoriums around the country on an annual basis, as well as the singing teachers who guide their charge’s journey.
It is also good for international artists who benefit from singing to Australian audiences, while enjoying a cross-cultural exchange of views with their peers about the ever-evolving global arts and culture scene.
At Sydney Opera House acclaimed American soprano Jessye Norman (right) has been renowned since the 60’s for a ‘voice to make you tremble’. She will conduct a master class for budding singers and appear In Conversation with Christopher Lawrence from ABC Classic FM.
The extensive program for Sydney Sings reads like a who’s who of both famous and interesting singers from around the globe.
Brisbane already benefits bountifully from their triumphant Brisbane Baroque and now Sydney is set to sing its own glorious tune, I am left wondering and hoping Leo Schofield and Jarrod Carland (seen collecting one of five nominated Helpmann Awards 2015) have something special up their sleeve for good old Melbourne town, Adelaide, Perth & Darwin as well!
Singing is ancient and universal, its origins are lost in antiquity when primitive man invoked the gods with prayer and incantations. Over the centuries composers and singers strove to invent new feats of vocal trickery with which to bewilder and enthuse the public.
The voices that have either sung or narrated to music in all that time have been a powerful force, affecting the lives of many people from the magic of medieval music to twentieth century modernity.
A grand Gondwana Gala concert in Sydney Town Hall will be sure to delight on opening night, as every state and territory in Australia is represented in a festive performance.
In the Qudos Bank Arena a specialist choir of five hundred voices, a full symphony orchestra with star opera soloists will perform Carmina Burana to a backdrop of ‘the mightiest light and staging spectacle’ since Leo Schofield conjointly stage managed the 2000 Sydney Summer and Paralympics festivals.
The music is based on twenty-four poems and dramatic texts from the eleventh and twelfth century.
Renowned for both their satirical and bawdy nature, the texts were originally written in mostly Medieval Latin, the ‘lingua franca’ across Italy and Western Europe for scholars, universities and theologians at the time.
Set to music by German composer Carl Orff (1895-1982) in 1936, the singers will be directed by Simon Kenway with Nigel Jamieson managing the visuals and special effects.
Outstanding jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant (right) will make her Australian debut.
New York Times critic Stephen Holden listed some of the virtues of McLorin Salvant’s singing: “perfect pitch and enunciation, a playful sense of humor, a rich and varied tonal palette, a supple sense of swing, exquisite taste in songs and phrasing, and a deep connection to lyrics.”
Austrian tenor Martin Mitterrutzner (below), a rising star of the international opera scene will perform selected arias by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He possesses a broad concert repertoire,’ from Early Music, via Bach and Handel, to modern times with works by Benjamin Britten and Sven David Sandström’.
He will be accompanied by an orchestra conducted by the Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Australian World Orchestra Alexander Briger AO.
This is another example of sacred music rolling over into the secular world, opening up the glories of church music to those who haven’t had the pleasure of growing up with it.
The art of singing it seems is greater than ever before and perhaps the best is yet to come!
Leo Schofield and Jarrod Carland are the right men in the right place at the right time to infuse locals and visitors with their enthusiasm for works from our musical heritage. Sydney Sings should appeal across a broad spectrum of musical genres.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2016
July 28 – August 7, 2016
Images: courtesy Sydney Sings