Arts festivals with a Jewish flavour

THE 2014 Adelaide Festival has scored a coup by bringing legendary avant-garde composer and musician John Zorn to Australia for the first time for a series of exclusive concerts.

Zorn, who is based in New York, has been experimenting with different musical styles for more than 40 years and will bring more than 40 musical collaborators from the United States for a series of concerts including his epic project of modern Jewish music, Masada Marathon.

Also performing at the festival, which runs from February 28 to March 16, is Israel’s renowned Batsheva Dance Company, returning to Adelaide for the first time since 1996.

The troupe, led by choreographer Ohad Naharin, will perform its electrifying dance Sadeh21, a series of abstract and  emotional movement studies.

Israeli conductor Illan Volkov brings together the pioneering works of a variety of modern composers in Tectonics Adelaide featuring the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Among the featured Australian composers is Elena Kats-Chermin.

Other highlights include screen icon Isabella Rossellini in her solo show Green Porno and Robert LePage’s restaged theatre masterpiece Needles and Opium.

Adelaide Festival artistic director David Sefton has created a program of 50 events covering theatre, music and dance as well as a writers’ week festival and art exhibitions.

The Sydney Festival runs from January 9-27 with an array of theatre, dance, music, visual arts and film in a diverse program of events in the city.

Composer Philip Glass and director Godfrey Reggio have joined forces with filmmaker Jon Kane for the film Visitors, which will be screened with live music by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at concerts at the Opera House’s Concert Hall on January 23-24.

Visitors premiered at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival and uses dramatic imagery and hypnotic sounds to present a fascinating wordless ode to modern life.

Amsterdam’s Apollo Ensemble, one of Europe’s leading early music chamber music groups, will play music by early Baroque Jewish composers in concerts at The Great Synagogue on January 14-15.

Led by artistic director and violinist David Rabinovich, the ensemble has uncovered many forgotten works of Jewish liturgical music from Holland’s Etz Chaim Library.

Other Sydney Festival highlights include a dramatic new interpretation of the opera Dido and Aeneas by Berlin choreographer Sasha Waltz and the celebrated baroque orchestra Akademie Fur Alte Musik.

The Perth Festival (February 7-March 1) features the Israeli theatre production Not By Bread Alone  by the Nalaga’at Deaf-Blind Theatre Ensemble made up of deaf-blind performers.

The show, conceived and directed by Adina Tal, sees a group of 11 performers relate their memories and dreams while kneading dough and baking bread on stage.

Not By Bread Alone has enjoyed sell-out performances in Israel, London and New York.


REPORT by Danny Gocs

PHOTO of Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company, which will stage Sadeh21 at the Adelaide Festival.