Monash launches a new era in performance

MLIVE Spinifex Gum - photo by Emmaline ZanelliMonash Academy of Performing Arts has launched its inaugural season of MLIVE – an eclectic program of Australian and international live music, theatre and dance curated as a cultural response to Melbourne’s diverse and open-minded communities.

MLIVE is brimming with the best of local and international contemporary and classical musicians, powerful and provocative theatre, whimsical children’s entertainment and a combination of daring new works, much-loved favourites and exclusive premieres,” said Professor Paul Grabowsky, Executive Director of Monash Academy of Performing Arts.

“We’ve assembled an incredible line-up of talent for our inaugural season with live performances from Australian music legends Vince Jones, Megan Washington, Christine Anu, Peter Garrett, Lior and Cat Empire’s Felix Riebl. The orchestral offering features compositions from Stravinsky, Rossini, Beethoven and Bach to Unsuk Chin, Nigel Westlake and Iain Grandage.”

“And theatre lovers will get their dramatic fix with a suite of hard hitting contemporary theatre from Belarus, Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane,” Grabowsky added.

The inaugural MLIVE season begins with peerless acapella sextet, The King’s Singers in the only Melbourne performance of their Gold 50th Anniversary world tour. Acclaimed for their life-affirming virtuosity and irresistible charm, , the vocal line-up, which has not wavered in 50 years, features two countertenors, one tenor, two baritones and one bass.

Following last year’s successful Jazz Greats Weekend, the 2018 program serves up two stunning concerts in April. Spinoff features a 20-piece jazz orchestra with Australian legend Vince Jones and one of Australia’s finest vocalists Megan Washington. In the second concert Joe Camilleri and Vika Bull unite with six-time ARIA award-winner Paul Grabowsky and his sextet, to bring audiences a radical new perspective on the King himself in Edge of Reality – the Elvis Presley Songbook.

Grabowsky has also forged new industry partnerships with an array of Australian and international performing arts organizations. This has resulted in the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s Metropolis New Music Festival, a three-year residency for Belarus Free Theatre and the world premiere of Spinifex Gum – a co-commission with the Adelaide Festival.

Spinifex Gum is a stunning and evocative live performance of topical and inspiring new songs that chart the dramatic contrasts of the land of the Pilbara as well as its political and social topography. It features the Marilya choir of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander teenage girls with Felix Riebl (Cat Empire) and guest artists Peter Garrett, Briggs, Ollie McGill and in a special Melbourne appearance, Christine Anu.

In 2018, the small but mighty, politically-charged Belarus Free Theatre takes up a three-year residency with Monash to develop and produce new theatre works and conduct annual student engagement programs at the Clayton campus.

The first of these works, Generation Jeans is a candid solo performance by founder Nicolai Khalezin that explores growing up in Soviet-era Belarus and selling vinyl rock albums and blue jeans on the black market while dodging KGB agents who routinely pounced on teenage bootleggers.

Young audiences are well catered with Townsville-based Dancenorth inviting dance fans to experience the visually stunning imagery and jaw-dropping physical contortions of Rainbow Vomit. The theatrical magic of Erich Kästner’s classic detective story for children, Emil and the Detectives continues Adelaide-based Slingsby Theatre Company’s tradition of reinventing classic children’s stories with contemporary verve and ingenuity.

A trio of hard hitting, contemporary theatre features La Boite Theatre’s critically-acclaimed production of Prize Fighter by playwright Future D Didel, Tasmania Performs’ fascinating production of The Season by playwright Nathan Maynard and Lab Kelpie’s disconcertingly powerful work Elegy – based on British playwright Douglas Rintoul’s verbatim interviews with gay refugee survivors and inspired by images from photojournalist Bradley Secker.

The rich performing life of Monash students will be on display in concerts by the brilliant Monash Academy Orchestra. The program includes four extraordinary free concerts featuring luscious scores like Stravinsky’s Firebird, Korngold’s Violin Concerto, Steiner’s Gone With the Wind, and Rossini’s gorgeous Stabat Mater.

The program will also feature an illustrious program of Australian music: a 90th birthday retrospective of favourite works by Australian composer George Dreyfus, a new work by Helpmann Award-winning Iain Grandage and brilliant Melbourne composer Katy Abbott, and national treasure and superb human Nigel Westlake conducting his own works, featuring Slava Grigoryan and Lior Attar.

Recipients of the Jeanne Pratt Musical Theatre Artists in Residence Program, director Peter Rutherford and award-winning Australian actor, singer and writer James Millar will work with students from the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music and The Centre for Theatre and Performance to develop a new original musical based on Rosalie Ham’s 2000 comedy revenge novel, The Dressmaker.

Robert Blackwood Hall remains home to popular series of orchestral and piano concerts. The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s four excursions to Robert Blackwood Hall in 2018 offer a chance to hear infrequently performed works by familiar composers alongside well-loved masterworks and great pieces by Australian composers.

The MSO Monash Series will feature favourite works from Bach, Beethoven and Brahms and MSO’s 2018 Composer in Residence, Carl Vine. Performers include Concertmaster Dale Barltrop, principal violinist Christopher Moore and a special bonus concert with Maxim Vengerov.

The MSO is also partnering with Monash and the Melbourne Recital Centre to present the Metropolis New Music Festival, showcasing contemporary music in its finest form, with the spotlight on the music of one of the world’s foremost modern-day composers, Unsuk Chin.

Wood Metal and Vibrating Air Piano Recital series features a who’s who of Australia’s most eminent and award-winning Australian pianists including Gabriella Smart, Andrea Lam, Zubin Kanga, Kristian Chong and Timothy Young. The program also includes Robyn Archer’s new work The Sound of Falling Stars, a one-off recital from polymath and pianist Stephen Hough and the return season of Taxithi – An Australian Odyssey with music-theatre legend Maria Mercedes.

Grabowsky heralded the MLIVE program launch as an inspiring start to what will be an incredibly exciting period of change for Monash University. “The inaugural MLIVE season program is just the beginning,” he said. “2019 will see the opening of The Ian Potter Centre for Performing Arts, with two additional new venues coming on line. MLIVE is for Melburnians to share and to celebrate – a new era in performance for Melbourne’s rapidly growing South East.”

For more information, and full program, visit: for details.

Image: Spinifex Gum – photo by Emmaline Zanelli