This month’s issue seems to be all about change and artists who have been at the forefront of change. Our cover feature is on a subject close to my heart: the Broadway musical. Like many opera aficionados, I love them. I’m ashamed to say it used to be a guilty pleasure – something to be admitted only in private and amongst close friends. But then, around 1987 I visited Australia and saw a production of Side By Side By Sondheim in Perth. My world was rocked. Here, for the first time, was a composer of musicals I was happy to quote without a second thought for what the cultural highbrows might think.
Having had my eyes, ears and heart opened by the master, I found I could be equally as inspired and intellectually challenged by a whole raft of Broadway tunesmiths and poets – Bernstein, Weill, Alan Jay Lerner, Comden and Green, Adam Guettel – the list is long. In a former life this was what I did. I devoted all of my time to that particular passion, putting on shows and banging the drum for the next generation of musical theatre writers. Now it seems, many at our opera companies are similarly inclined, and so I jumped at the opportunity to share a few of my observations and discoveries over the years. Even if you look down on the humble musical, I hope you find something to pique your interest.
Our other articles this month feature an eclectic line-up of game-changers. Simon Rattle has always been a musical zealot and the Australian World Orchestra are modifying the blueprint for how a body of musicians can function. The two should be a match made in heaven. Chinese pianist Yuja Wang may be only 28, but already she has challenged a fair few preconceptions about what a young player can achieve (and how they are expected to appear!). Robert Hollingworth too believes that early music and choral performance needs a kick up the pants at times, and Australian audiences will soon get the chance to see his ensemble I Fagiolini do just that.
Finally, it seems the Australian arts sector is also in for a change. As the Federal Minister begins to roll out his plans for a new funding paradigm, artists are feeling nervous. We’d love to hear what you, the arts audience, think.