Giving a tantalising taste of Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed’s Vivid LIVE program, Sydney Opera House today announced some of the projects that will make up this year’s festival, set to take place from May 27 to June 11.

More than any other couple, Anderson and Reed personify the fierce independence and fearless curiosity that characterises the downtown New York scene. In different ways, they have chronicled the past 50 years of American history and in particular that of their beloved Manhattan.

A part of Vivid Sydney (May 27 – June 21), our annual festival of light, music and ideas, Vivid LIVE at Sydney Opera House will see the next generation of musicians mingle with the masters under the soaring white sails.

With four Australian premieres confirmed to date, Vivid LIVE will feature large-scale solo concerts, small intimate evenings, a talks program, free events and lighting of the iconic Opera House sails.

Vivid LIVE will be a festival of stories – Laurie Anderson will draw together narratives from across her entire career; while Rickie Lee Jones brings her unique brand of songs from the American road and one of the US’s most promising dramatic voices, Young Jean Lee gives what New York Magazine described as “the clearest indication that the avant-garde isn’t dead and has never been funnier”.

Vivid LIVE will also be a festival of sounds – Lou Reed will unleash a night of deep noise and sonic experimentation with his Metal Machine Trio; from Japan Boris bring their blistering wall of guitar sound and from the Southern reaches of Russia, Tuvan group Chilgirchin will exhibit the ancient art of throat singing.

Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Trio is a night of improvised soundscapes featuring Reed, sonic experimentalist Ulrich Krieger and live-processing specialist Sarth Calhoun. Are you hard enough to sit through this endurance test of noise which picks up from where Reed’s controversial 1975 album Metal Machine Music left off?

Transitory Life is Laurie Anderson’s latest solo audio-visual work. Uniquely personal, this collection of songs and stories includes pieces from Anderson’s acclaimed solo shows The Speed of Darkness, Happiness, The End of the Moon and Homeland. An intimate evening of voice, electronics and violin, Anderson spins offbeat adventure stories with her characteristic wit and poignancy.

American pop-rock veteran Rickie Lee Jones is back with a vengeance and a new legion of fans. Touring Australia for the first time in over a decade, Jones and a trio of musicians will kick off Vivid LIVE with a concert of her greatest hits as well as tracks from her latest acclaimed album Balm in Gilead.

Maverick New York theatre company Young Jean Lee will make its Australian debut with the funny and provocative play The Shipment. The cast of five performers, sing, dance, act and laugh their way through all the African-American stereotypes imaginable. Confronting, uncompromising and unsettling, this is serious dark humour from one of America’s newest voices in contemporary storytelling.

During Vivid LIVE, the Sydney Opera House Studio will be awash with sounds from opposite ends of the sonic spectrum. Hand-picked by Anderson and Reed, these acts are considered to be at the cutting edge of music.

From the post-rock explorations of Philadelphia psychedelics Bardo Pond, Japanese experimentalists Boris and retro garage punk duo King Khan & BBQ Show to My Brightest Diamond’s avant-pop and the nu-folk stylings of Tuva’s Chirgilchin, The Studio will be a Festival hub with two shows each night at 7.30pm and 10pm.

All tickets to The Studio are $35 or $30 concession. A special multi-pack is available with 3 shows for $79 or 4 shows for $99. Tickets to extra Studio shows (more to be announced) are an additional $20 to multi-pack purchasers.

Vivid LIVE will also include artist talks with Laurie Anderson and early morning tai chi classes on the Forecourt with Lou Reed’s New York teacher Master Ren Guang Yi.

With many of the major productions still to be announced, Vivid LIVE at Sydney Opera House will give Sydneysiders and visitors to the festival a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the pioneering spirit and sense of adventure of two seminal figures of American culture.

Further programming and details about Lighting of the Sails will be announced late April.

One of five anchor events in the NSW Master Events Calendar developed by the NSW Government through Events NSW, Vivid celebrates Sydney as the creative hub of the Asia Pacific with large scale light installations and projections; music performances and collaborations; creative ideas, discussion and debate.

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