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Brace yourself, festival season is here! February is crammed with incredible local and international acts, so much to enjoy!

Firstly on the local front there are a few groups brave enough to compete with the onslaught of the Perth International Arts Festival…

The WA Charity Orchestra celebrates 10 years with a massive concert at the Perth Concert Hall on February 3rd. Also that night WA Opera present their annual FREE Opera in the Park, presenting a full opera La Boheme with home grown stars Paul O’Neill as Rodolfo and Elena Perroni as Mimi. Another group maximising the balmy summer nights is the Perth Symphony Orchestra who will perform a FREE concert of Motown Classics at Murdoch on the 18th.

The WA Symphony Orchestra are marking 90 years of music making by opening their 2018 season on the 9-10th with a concert of Favourites featuring the orchestra’s favourite repertoire and soloists including Christopher Dragon, Sara Macliver, Joseph Nolan and others. They will also perform with iconic indie rock band Eskimo Joe on the 23rd.

The Australian String Quartet will perform music by Brett Dean, Philip Glass and Mendelssohn on the 17th and on the same night The Rocky Horror Show opens at Crown. Local duo Darryn Santana (guitar) and Eliza Bourgault du Coudray (harp) will present four concerts called Pluck & Strum at Fringe World ahead of the release of their debut album.

Perth International Arts Festival 

The international drawcard for the CLASSICAL MUSIC program is Jordi Savall. His gigs on the 17/18th are attracting a lot of attention as he is bringing both his early music specialist ensemble Hesperion XXI and Mexico’s Tembembe Ensamble continuo for two programs of dance music that mixes 15th and 16th century European, Mexican and Latin American sounds. Savall is not your ordinary classical musician and I suspect these concerts will be more dance party than stuffy classical!

On the 15th American composer and singer Ted Hearne who will be collaborating with local musicians to perform his politically sharp-edged Katrina Ballads, a sonic and visual recreation of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina. His concert as part of Fremantle Arts Centre’s Soft Soft Loud program will be an Australian exclusive and definitely worth checking out.

On the 24th John Efflam Bavouzet will present a four hour Debussy marathon featuring selections of music interspersed with discussion

Australian Chamber Orchestra’s electro-infused spin-off band will take over the Astor Theatre on the 23rd. Underground features front-woman, violinist and singer Satu Vänskä with ACO’s Artistic Director Richard Tognetti, cellist Julian Thompson, Violent Femmes bassist Brian Ritchie and Midnight Oil guitarist Jim Moginie, bringing to the stage music by Bach, Kurt Cobain, Ravel, Nick Drake, Locatelli, Richard Tognetti and Pete Seeger.

THEATRE shows are proving popular this year at PIAF. Cerita Anaak and The Far Side of the Moon are already sold out. Selling fast is Hand Stories (Feb 14-17)  featuring puppet master Yeung Fai telling his personal story with the help of a series of exquisitely hand-crafted figures and modern multimedia effects.

Russian poet, playwright and theatre director Evgeny Grishkovets is also attracting attention with his charming one-man show Farewell to Paper (16-18) which gives paper and everything it represents a proper send off.

France’s Compagnie XY perform in Australia for the first time with their adrenaline rush circus Il nest pas encore minuit, (8-17th) and the Barber Shop Chronicles  (9-18), Inua Ellams’ latest production direct from a sell-out season at London’s National Theatre, is also selling fast with its promise of a heart warming fly-on-the-wall look at the goings on inside African barber shops around the world.

The theatre program also includes Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour’s Nassim  which involves just a sealed envelope and a new actor reading a script for the first time every performance.

WRITERS WEEK runs from the 19-25th. Check out my earlier post on Writer’s Week which goes into more depth about how the program has expanded and returned to the roots of storytelling.

DANCE is a big theme this year at PIAF. On the local front I’m interested in WA Ballet’s new creation Milky Way (Feb 9th-Mar 3rd) which involves a collaboration with the Gary Lang NT Dance company and Deborah Cheetham and the telling of Lang’s mother’s dreamtime story. It is a fascinating cultural collaboration that is being put together with great respect and heart. Attractor (8-10) also involves interesting cross-cultural collaboration involving Indonesian musicians Senyawa and Australian choreographers creating an audience-interactive dance event.

Britain’s wild child of dance Michael Clark and his company are making their Perth debut with To a simple rock n roll song (14-17th) plus Taiwanese martial arts present their drum/dance ritual  Beyond Time (9th-11th).

Don’t wait to book as many of these shows will sell out!

If I’ve missed anything let me know, and for more detail on kids shows check out the Kids Gig Guide.

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