Sonny Rollins may be celebrating his 80th birthday on stage in Sydney, but has Vivid become too mainstream?

More than 30 musicians and artists, 45 installations and a large-scale pyrotechnic display will light up Sydney for the Vivid winter programme in May and June, festival organisers announced yesterday.

Vivid’sannual light sculptures and installations will take over Circular Quay and The Rocks for 18 days of outdoor exhibitions free to the public. These will include the illumination of the Sydney Opera House sails – taken over this year by French design collective SUPERBIEN – and, in a festival-first, a nightly fire show synchronized with music in Campbell’s Cove.

Experimental film aficionados will be pleased to see cult video artist Chris Cunningham in a live audio-visual set  – an Australian debut for the director of Björk’s most eclectic music videos. Filmmaker Tom Kuntz, of Old Spicefame, has teamed with electronic music wizards Lucky Dragons to create an installation for the western foyers of the Opera House.

As for the music, the 2011 Vivid LIVE curator Stephen Pavlovic has polarised concertgoers’ opinions with a shift towards younger audiences and club culture. The first Australian to direct the festival,...