I always have mixed feelings when Perth International Arts Festival comes to a close every year. I spend time thinking about all the amazing concerts, plays, writers’ festivals talks and bands that I have been so privileged to see. But I am also sad to see this wonderful West Australian institution is over for another year as well as disappointed not to have made it to more events.
The 2014 Perth International Arts Festival or Perth Festival just for short, seemed to have been especially amazing this year.
Opening this year’s festival was the usual amazing spectacular. This year’s was Spain’s Veles E Vents and was 45 minutes of load music and pyrotechnics that accompanied some kind of pirate story. The smoke and load music got to some people but was very entertaining.
The next event that we got to see was A Midsummer’s Night Dream (As You Like It), originally commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company for a world Shakespeare festival this performance was brought exclusively to Perth by the Chekhov International Theatre Festival. It was loosely based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream and could be described as a play within a play but should have been named Much Ado about Nothing as while it was funny, it was random, zany and chose not to have much of a narrative. However, this production did have giant puppets, a dog and girls in tutus. It defiantly followed in the Russian tradition of using the arts as a platform for nihilistic discussions.
Several days later we got to see Kelemen String Quartet. With their warm tone and their sensitive playing we fell in love with Beethoven String Quartet no 9 in C major, no59 no 3. While they played Bartok, Hyden and a Ross Edward’s work, the Beethoven was my favourite. It was amazing and would recommend anyone to download it, legally of course.
We were back at the Perth Concert Hall 4 days later to see St Martin in the Field’s play with Michael Barenboim. Their programme held no surprises but was no less satisfying and enjoyable. It is not often that chamber orchestras of this calibre come to Perth (other than our own Australian Chamber Orchestra) and so it was great to hear such an amazing musicians playing together as such a fine ensemble. We especially enjoyed Violist Nicholas Barr’s occasional solos while violinist Michael Barenboim gave a straight and precise performance of Mozart’s 4th Violin Concerto.
Next came Perth Writers’ Festival and this year was everything that a writers’ festival should be: fascinating, challenging and, of course, about books. Having grabbed a posse of friends we went to session with a diverse range of writers, including Anne Summers, David Marr, Hannah Kent and Jo Baker. Having it at UWA was great (lots of space and air conditioned venues) slightly better lattes would have been adventurous but this is a small matter, the rest was perfect.
Lastly, it was time to visit the Chevron Gardens to see the Robert Glasper Experiment. It was funky with a touch jazz and a lot of class. The crowd went wild and a great night was had by all, Tess and I included. The venue was perfect and couldn’t better although slightly more diverse range of beverages would, again, be advantageous.
Movies at the Somerville Auditorium continue to be a Perth tradition that continues to be a personal favourite. It plays to Perth's natural advantage and allows you to sit and enjoy a meal, a glass of wine and a film under the stars in the weather that is meant for such an activity. Somerville is perfection personified. The range of movies are great, the atmosphere is awesome, food available continues to be good but the coffee is average.
I have yet to see any visual art, only because there has been so much on.
Having too many events to go to highlights the quality of this year’s festival. If you’re even thinking about visiting Perth, make sure you come when it is on because there is something for everyone and you’ll love it. If you live in Perth and haven’t been to any events – get cultured and attend, you’ll also love it.