Above: Sydney, Hot-air balloons float above the city as part of the Sky Orchestra. This is an experimental artwork linked to research on the effect of music on people’s dreams. The work is made up of seven hot air balloons, each with speakers attached, which fly low over the city in the early hours of the morning playing music.
Sydney Festival 2007 dawned yesterday with a dreamy symphony in the sky above western Sydney.
Seven hot-air balloons wired for sound lifted off from Parramatta at sunrise, serenading thousands of sleepy residents.
Bleary-eyed and pyjama-clad they emerged, captivated by the soothing sounds of Sky Orchestra, which launched the festival far from its traditional inner-city heart.
"How do you react artistically to something like the western suburbs, which go on forever and are very dispersed?" festival director Fergus Linehan said. "Sky Orchestra seemed a really interesting way of bringing the mountain to Muhammad."
Jenny Gabrielides, of Merrylands, was still in her dressing-gown when she was drawn into her yard.
"I think it's wonderful," she said, "a lovely surprise."
But Tama Cribb, who was roused from his Parramatta bed, said: "What's going on? What's all this noise about? Am I dreaming?"
Annette Castle and her neighbour, Ann Gray, watched the event together in Guildford.
"It's pretty isn't it, and we're getting something [in western Sydney] - it's not all downtown," Ms Castle said.
Sky Orchestra was the brainchild of British sound artist Luke Jerram, who is conducting university research into how sound affects the REM stage of sleep.
While holidaying in Tunisia, Jerram was awoken by the sounds of singing from a minaret on the edge of town. It was soon joined by another minaret and then another.
"You could almost see the layers of sound building on each other," he said. "It gave me the idea of building sound on the edge of sleep."
Composer Dan Jones created two pieces of music for the performance, including one with excerpts from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream spoken by actors Janet Suzman and Patrick Stewart.
The festival, which runs until January 27, had its official launch last night at the Hyde Park Barracks. Five festival highlights in the coming days are:
- Music great Lou Reed performing his cult album Berlin live - January 18-20, State Theatre.
- May Gibbs's iconic Snugglepot And Cuddlepie brought to the stage - January 9-31, Theatre Royal.
- The sublime jazz of Madeleine Peyroux - January 21-22, State Theatre.
- The sexy circus and cabaret performers of La Clique - January 5-28, The Famous Spiegeltent, Hyde Park North.
- Actor Ralph Fiennes in First Love by Samuel Beckett - January 9-21, Parade Theatres, NIDA.
From the Sydney Morning Herald.
.... Just another day ....