The Festival of Jewish Arts and Music (FOJAM), formerly Shir Madness Melbourne, takes over Melbourne Recital Centre in a day-long immersion of contemporary Jewish culture with performances across music, theatre, dance and conversation on Sunday 8 September.
Inspired by Lou Reed’s urgent call to Walk on the Wild Side, the program features over 140 international and homegrown artists who are breaking or have already broken convention to carve new paths.
Among the international headliners making their Australian debut are Israeli beatmaker and producer Noga Erez; American singer-songwriter Chris Cohen (formerly of the band Deerhoof); and stalwart British journalist and performer Vivien Goldman aka ‘the Punk Professor’. Also on the international roster is Zackary Drucker, who speaks about the intersections of queer and Jewish identities.
In the Festival’s headline performance, Transformer – A Tribute to Lou Reed, indie-pop artist Gabriella Cohen serves as musical director to artists including Alex Gow (Oh Mercy), Emily Lubitz (Tinpan Orange) and ARIA-winning post-punk legend Deborah Conway, who perform songs from Reed’s iconic album Transformer. Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier also curate and perform in festival favourite Song of Songs, a tribute to Jewish songwriters and composers.
Elsewhere on the program, Gabriella Cohen and her full band present a sonic wonderland of works off her new album. Deborah Conway and Vivien Goldman in Conversation: Jews. Rebels. Feminists. has both women reflecting on what those things meant to them in the ‘80s and what they mean to them now.
Curator and choreographer Gideon Obarzanek presents his Circle Dance work, based on an Israeli folk dance, and Israeli choreographer Israel Aloni shakes things up with his solo performance My Body, My Nation. Asis D’Orange, a household name in Tel Aviv’s underground drag scene, performs The Carrot.
Esteemed Australian composer George Dreyfus with his quartet celebrates a life in music. Russian-Israeli avant-garde artist Mary Ocher performs a solo set on piano and closes out the festival with a DJ set.
“We are bringing together critically acclaimed and emerging artists working across music, dance, drag, comedy, theatre and moving image from Australia, Israel, Russia and England” said FOJAM Artistic Director Lior Albeck-Ripka. “Whether it be through their performance, their process, composition or ideas, each artist is trying something new, and this year, we are asking our audiences to do the same.”
FOJAM: Festival of Jewish Arts and Music
Melbourne Recital Centre, Corner Southbank Boulevard and Sturt Street, Southbank
Event: Sunday 8 September 2019 – from 10.30am
Information and Bookings: www.melbournerecital.com.au
Image: Emilia Schnall, Gideon Obarzanek and Vivien Goldman features in the 2019 Festival of Jewish Arts and Music