09/05/2018 - 10:23

Grandage selected to lead Perth Festival

09/05/2018 - 10:23

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For the first time in its 65-year history, Perth Festival has appointed a home-grown artistic director, Iain Grandage, whose creative vision will be executed across a four-year tenure starting in 2020.

Grandage selected to lead Perth Festival
Iain Grandage says large-scale public works and the inclusion of indigenous artists are part of his festival vision. Photo: Pia Johnson

For the first time in its 65-year history, Perth Festival has appointed a home-grown artistic director, Iain Grandage, whose creative vision will be executed across a four-year tenure starting in 2020.

Mr Grandage has a background in classical music and will succeed current artistic director Wendy Martin

As a programmer he has curated the chamber music program for the Adelaide Festival and was most recently Melbourne’s Port Fairy Spring Music Festival artistic director. 

He has been composer-in-residence with the WA Symphony Orchestra and has a history of collaborating with indigenous artists across the country.

Mr Grandage said he felt immensely privileged to be joining Perth Festival after a long and competitive recruitment process.

“I know there was a series of international people also in the mix right up to the very end, so I’m just thrilled that for the first time they’ve chosen a home-grown director,” he told Business News.

Mr Grandage said high on his list of priorities was to follow the lead of prior festival directors and deliver large-scale free public events to increase a communal sense of connectedness.

“Obviously Johnathon (Holloway) achieved that in spades with The Giants, realistically that’s a once in a generation event, but also Wendy following that with Boorna Waanginy (The Trees Speak),” he said.

“These are large-scale things that are for everybody, so I’d like to increase our ability to do them.

“There needs to be reasons to draw people out of their virtual existence and into their real lives, and that’s through offering exciting and stimulating fare.”

A musician and composer, Mr Grandage said he would bring a strong music component to the future festivals, but would be cautious not to allow that to dominate.

“It’s more than just a music festival, but the Perth Concert Hall is the finest acoustic (venue) in Australia,” he said.

“It’s an extraordinary building and I’ve grown to love its aesthetic; I used to think of it as brutally ugly, but it’s like an ageing anything that you just grow into.”

Mr Grandage said while music was his forte, he would be seeking assistance and advice on decisions involving dance, visual arts and literature and was looking forward to working outside the strict confines of classical music.

“The fact that I write classical music appeals to a fairly small segment of the population and I would like to find ways of communicating with larger groups of people to offset lots of the troubling divisiveness of the world,” he said.

“The rituals of togetherness that you experience inside festivals are the core of what a community is.”

Mr Grandage said indigenous culture would also be a key priority under his direction.

“The pre-eminent thing in Australian culture is acknowledging the depth and breadth of the indigenous contribution to our society,” he said.

“As Bruce Pascoe wrote towards the end of his book Dark Emu, ‘we’ve said sorry now, but it’s time to actually find new and special ways of saying thank you for all that indigenous culture has given every Australian’.”

 

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