We’re lighting up Perth Festival with a brand-new precinct. Welcome to the City of Lights, powered by human energy.

Image: Thirteen Ways to Look at Birds, Paul Kelly_ cr. Shane Reid

Inspired by the moment in 1962 when Perth residents left on their lights and shone torches into the sky to light up the night for US astronaut John Glenn as he orbited Earth, City of Lights will be a welcoming beacon for visitors and locals throughout the Festival.

Our City of Lights takes in the whole of Perth Concert Hall, but not as you know it. Experience this iconic venue as an Indigenous ceremonial dance ground and an international Kabarett Haus, as well as in its traditional role as the home of fine music.

The pulsing heart of this new Festival hub is Chevron Lighthouse – your ultimate destination for good times. Move to the sounds of summer as the ticketed Main Stage becomes the place to see the biggest and best names in contemporary music.

Don’t have a ticket to the Main Stage? That’s cool. Chevon Lighthouse takes care of your food and drink needs while you kick back and enjoy the Festival vibe and top local talent at our Free Stage which is accessible to all. The full line-up to be announced in early 2020.

With our entire first week dedicated to First Nations performances, City of Lights will open with the world-premiere season of Buŋgul in the Perth Concert Hall, inviting us into the culture that inspired Gurrumul’s final album, Djarrimirri (Child of the Rainbow) in an extraordinary live audio-visual spectacular by Yolŋu dancers, songmen, and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra.

The hip-hop heroics of Briggs kicks off the action in the Chevron Lighthouse as he brings together guest Indigenous artists for the Bad Apples House Party.

The celebrations of talent continues throughout the weekend with Spinifex Gum featuring Marliya – an ensemble of Aboriginal and Torres Strait teenage singers with The Cat Empire’s Felix Riebl and Ollie McGill; as well as two stunning divas – New Guinea-born Ngaiire and Gumbaynggirr/Yamtji singer Emma Donovan coming together for an evening of euphoric soul.

The extraordinary music continues in week two as Australian music legend Paul Kelly, composer James Ledger, Alice Keath and Seraphim Trio set our spirits soaring with the song cycle Thirteen Ways to Look at Birds, which won Best Classical Album in the 2019 ARIA Awards. And in association with Musica Viva, revered American pianist Garrick Ohlsson brings us great works by Beethoven, Prokofiev and Chopin in an intimate solo recital.

Image: Weyes Blood cr. Brett Stanley 

Festivities in Chevron Lighthouse include New Orleans marching outfit Treme Brass Band performing jazz-tinged classics with boisterous brassy flair, and Melbourne’s Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever bringing their propulsive rhythm section and explosive triple guitars. Expect a hurricane of truth from UK performance poet Kate Tempest – the spoken word artist of our times will punch you in the gut with her raw, unsentimental observations.

In week three, international megastar Meow Meow invites us into her decadent place of cabaret dreams, Kabarett Haus. The siren kicks off the Kabarett Haus season with Pandemonium – her uproarious night of musical mayhem accompanied by Pink Martini’s Thomas M. Lauderdale and WASO conducted by Iain Grandage.

On following nights, she welcomes musical greats Rufus Wainwright with his intimate new show created especially for Perth Festival, and the triumphant return of punk cabaret queen Amanda Palmer.

In Chevron Lighthouse, the smorgasbord of musical treats continues with Brooklyn quirk-pop trio Yeasayer bringing sweeping harmonies, hints of psychedelia and tribal beats for some danceable art-rock stylings; and the ferociously tender Weyes Blood, will spin a web of blissful vintage pop to leave you breathless.

For an epic festival finale, we celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday with his only opera Fidelio in the Perth Concert Hall – a Perth Festival co-commission with West Australian Symphony Orchestra and presented in association with West Australian Opera.

Beethoven’s only opera is reframed with text written by award-winning Australian writer Alison Croggon and narrated by actor Eryn Jean Norvill. Acclaimed German soprano Christiane Libor plays the heroic Leonore, and under the direction of Asher Fisch the radiant score blazes with soul-stirring emotion in a timely meditation on the triumph of human will and freedom over injustice and tyranny.

Chevron Lighthouse’s hot nights and sonic delights culminates in four electrifying concerts beginning with a retro R‘n’B party-to-remember from the disco diva with a giant voice, Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King + Mondo Freaks. New Zealand gothic-folk phenomenon Aldous Harding will cast musical spells beneath a starry night; and there’ll be gospel grooves and ol’ razzle dazzle from multiple Grammy winners, Blind Boys of Alabama for a jubilant experience.

The fiery, fearless and funky tunes of gospel legend Mavis Staples will ignite the Lighthouse for a most triumphant Festival finale, this living legend a powerhouse of soul, truth and inspiration.

HOW MUCH: Free – $112
WHAT: City of Lights
WHEN: Fri 7 Feb – Sun 1 Mar
WHERE: Perth Concert Hall

BOOKINGS AND FESTIVAL INFOperthfestival.com.au

Read the extended media release with more details here.