The red dirt of Katherine is a world away from the southern-fried prairies of America’s Deep South, but you wouldn’t know it from listening to blues musician CW Stoneking. Growing up in the Northern Territory with a poet father, he was raised on records from early 60s America – and, apart from a brief flirtation with rock bands after moving to Sydney as a teen, that’s where he’s remained, both musically and sartorially, ever since. Don’t think the crisp white slacks, oiled hair and tendency to pronounce record “rekkid” are a front, though – Stoneking’s primitive ragtime sound is the real deal, and his single Perth show a cruel taste of the critically acclaimed songwriter’s talents before he heads indefinitely to the US. Fremantle Arts Centre, November 14.
Lavish staging by David McVicar from London’s Royal Opera House makes this production of Gounod’s famous opera one of the most anticipated shows of the season. He’s set the story of disillusioned philosopher Faust in a decadent 1870s Parisian locale – an immoderate backdrop entirely appropriate for Faust’s hedonistic deal with the devil to relive his youth. Helpmann Award-winning baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes plays the devilish hell spirit Mephistopheles, with American tenor Patrick O’Halloran as Faust, Natalie Aroyan as Marguerite, and our own Fiona Campbell as Siebel. His Majesty’s Theatre, October 29 and 31, Nov 3, 5, 7.
JAMES MORRISON & WASO
Renowned musician Morrison has worked with Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Herbie Hancock and Dizzy Gillespie (the jazz trumpeter widely considered the world’s greatest). Now it’s WASO’s turn. The full orchestra will back Morrison as he performs a whole range of jazz favourites, including pieces by Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Miles Davis. No surprise this show’s so highly anticipated – Morrison is considered one of Australia’s best trumpeters, and vocalist Hetty Kate, who will accompany the musicians, is one of the most gifted swing singers on the scene. Perth Concert Hall, December 3-4.
THE BEACH BOYS
“Like history before you,” is how WASO’s Evan Kennea imagines this show by the band widely considered one of the world’s most influential – and for good reason. A career spanning five decades, over 100 million albums sold, and a credit for carving out an entire musical genre has The Beach Boys uniquely placed to lead you down musical memory lane. Kings Park, November 21.
BEETHOVEN & MAHLER
Two giants of classical music are taken back to their innovative early works by WASO in this program, which pairs Beethoven’s jubilant Piano Concerto No. 1 with Mahler’s unrestrained, ecstatic First Symphony – an immense work that WASO’s Evan Kennea tells us is one of his favourites to listen to. “It’s incredibly exciting,” he says. “Mahler always uses a huge orchestra – lots of marches and military sounds, folk sounds, sounds drawn from nature – and the arguments within the music are so big. It’s incredibly dramatic.” Add the presence of Ingrid Fliter – the internationally acclaimed Argentinian pianist – leading the program, and you can understand why Evan’s so excited. Perth Concert Hall, November 20-21.
THE FOUR SEASONS
In this concert, the conductor-less Australian Chamber Orchestra reimagines Vivaldi’s timeless Four Seasons suite with a contemporary twist – they’ve brought in eclectic percussionist Joseph Tawadros to keep time with an Egyptian flair. A multiple ARIA Award-winner, the African-born beatmaker is considered a virtuoso on the oud – a pear-shaped stringed instrument similar to a lute. Combined with the sumptuous strings of the orchestra, it’s a reminder that Venice is just a day’s sail from Cairo. Perth Concert Hall, December 2.
Widely considered the benchmark work for the string quartet, Schubert’s Death and the Maiden is both a complex technical achievement, and an achingly real exploration of the composer’s own mortality. Written as a testament to death after a seriously ill Schubert realised the gravity of his sickness, the piece is simultaneously melancholy and defiantly uplifting – and, performed by the internationally acclaimed Australian String Quartet in this concert, which returns the group’s globetrotting former first violinist Sophie Rowell to the first chair, it should soar to new heights. Government House Ballroom, November 3.
DVORAK'S NEW WORLD
It wasn’t the tune first beamed into deep space by US astronauts – that honour went to The Beatles’ Across The Universe – but Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 was the first choice of Neil Armstrong, who took the piece with him on his 1969 moon voyage. And little wonder – the pensive, folky piece is a favourite of many, and has been called one of the most popular of all time. Dvorak absorbed the Slavic folk rhythms of his Czech heritage in the symphony, as he did in all his works, but its name is a nod to America – in particular, the Native American melodies that inspired the piece. It’s a great balance in WASO’s challenging program for this season. Perth Concert Hall, October 15-17.
KATIE NOONAN'S VANGUARD
The celebrated vocalist has emerged from the adolescent shadow of her grungy pop-rock group george to assert herself as one of Australia’s best-known jazz musicians. Noonan’s sublime voice has seen her touted as the next Joni Mitchell, and this show is a unique opportunity to experience her ethereal, soaring vocals backed by a brand-new band. Fremantle Town Hall, October 28.