In the latest bid to stake Melbourne’s claim to be Australia’s cultural capital, the Melbourne Festival has announced its 2014 program with a line-up including a mix of Australian performers and international talent.

The headline act will be UK’s Aurora Orchestra and will take the form of a week-long residency, led by conductor Nicholas Collon. One of the more adventurous outfits in modern classical music (recent highlights include pairing Brazilian capoeira with French baroque music, tango with Bernstein, klezmer with Mahler, and breakdance with Shostakovich), the anticipated debut will showcase their eclectic repertoire, acclaimed musicianship and originality of programming.

Taking in audiences of all ages, the London-based orchestra’s residency will include the Australian premiere of Insomnia, an exploration of the realm between wakefulness and sleep, and will feature vocals from leading British tenor Allan Clayton. Road Trip, an intriguing-sounding “folk-inflected journey through the dusty backroads and sweeping plains of America” is inspired by the ghost of Jack Kerouac and will feature Australia’s Katie Noonan while Testament, a celebration of the enduring power of the classical symphony will see them collaborate with ANAM. Pepper the Monkey and the Rainbow Circus, a blend of storytelling, theatre and classical music meanwhile, is aimed at children under five.

After the success of last year, Quartets at Sunset will return as a cornerstone of the Haydn for Everyone program. The string quartet, a musical form pioneered by Haydn himself, will be celebrated by musical talent from around the globe, including the Debussy String Quartet, fresh from their tour of Germany, London and Greece, as well as Australia’s own Orava String Quartet and the Auric Quartet in a series of twilight performances. The Haydn for Everyone program also includes a rare glimpse into the rehearsal and refinement process, from first glance to first performance, taking a previously unplayed work from page to stage in Haydn Unpicked with the Australian String Quartet. Haydn Open House, meanwhile, is a chance to encounter Haydn’s string quartets in the intimate style the composer intended, inside Chadwick House in Eaglemont, one of Melbourne’s most iconic homes. After an impressive 2011 Melbourne Festival season, ANAM’s foremost musicians return to perform a repertoire of quartets in the ANAM Quartetthaus for an intimate and exclusive audience, the extraordinary structure having a seating capacity of just 52.

An epic scale production from the mind of the legendary European artist Heiner Goebbel, When the Mountain Changed Its Clothing will feature 40 teenage girls from Vocal Theatre Carmen Slovenica. Inspired by the dialogue “what do young girls dream of? Of the knife and of blood” from French writer Alain Robbe-Grillet, the choral theatre piece is a meditation on the journey from girlhood to womanhood, with parallels drawn to political movements and nationhood. The choir are required to tackle a range of vocals, from political songs to Slovenian folk, overlaid with a swirl of choreographed movement.

Revolutionary New York choreographer Trisha Brown will present a retrospective of her work spanning four decades with the dancers of the Trisha Brown Dance Company. Performances of more than 17 of her avant-garde, post-modernist pieces are planned. The trailblazing choreographer will also present a program of films, talks and workshops.

The Melbourne Festival program additionally includes a performance with Greek singer Michalis Hatzigiannis, who joins the MSO for a performance under the stars at the Bowl. Clint Mansell, award-winning composer known for Black Swan and Requim for a Dream, will perform a sweeping retrospective of his film compositions, Grammy Award-winning guitarist Pat Metheny will strike a chord with audiences, and Irish-American supergroup The Gloaming are set to play their Australian premier performance at Hamer Hall.

Intended to be a fusion of classical and contemporary, the 2014 Melbourne Festival boasts 21 Australian premieres, with 17 days of art, music and performance in more than 30 venues throughout the city.

2014 Melbourne Festival runs from 10 – 26 October, with tickets going on sale on Friday 1 August.

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