About Vivid LIVE
Vivid LIVE is the annual centrepiece of the Opera House’s year-round contemporary music program – a whole-of-House takeover celebrating iconic and ambitious artists that defy expectations and break new ground across genres.
This May - June, Vivid LIVE will present original Australian premieres, one-off projects and unmissable performances from Australian artists, alongside select global acts, emerging voices and Sydney’s vibrant local communities who amplify the nation’s culture.
Vivid LIVE is the only time of year that the world-famous venue is completely reimagined by live contemporary music and art – from its theatres, rehearsal spaces, foyers, studio and, most publicly, its iconic sails.
Vivid LIVE is part of Vivid Sydney, Australia’s biggest annual festival that brings together the world’s brightest light artists, music makers, thought leaders and, for the first time, food creatives, transforming Sydney for 23 nights.
The Lighting of the Sails is co-curated by the Sydney Opera House and Destination NSW and is one of their most significant free events.
Vivid LIVE Curator Ben Marshall
Ben Marshall is the Sydney Opera House’s Head of Contemporary Music and Curator of the annual centrepiece music event Vivid LIVE. He has worked in Australia’s music scene for over 20 years. Former solicitor-by-day, electronic music promoter-by-night, Marshall setup Inertia’s touring division Civil Society (now Handsome Tours), bringing some of the most influential contemporary music artists to Sydney for the first time. Under his curatorship, the Sydney Opera House has hosted Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, Solange, Nils Frahm, Lizzo, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Wu-Tang Clan, Angel Olsen, Iggy Pop, Courtney Barnett, Kamasi Washington, New Order, Khrunangbin, Leon Bridges, Kae Tempest, Yaeji and Florence + The Machine under its iconic sails, a testament to Ben’s ambitious and forward-facing vision in nurturing contemporary music in Australia.
Since assuming the role of Vivid LIVE Curator in 2015, Ben has programmed specially-commissioned works such as The Cure’s Disintegration 30th Anniversary performances (2019), Max Richter’s Sleep and Bon Iver’s special in-the-round performance Cercle (both 2016), seminal artists like Solange and Ice Cube (both 2018), Australian premieres from H.E.R. (2018), Anohni (2016) and Mazzy Star (2018), specially artist-curated evenings like Briggs’ Bad Apples House Party (2019), the world premiere of Sampa The Great An Afro Future (2022), and the hallmark Lighting of the Sails as co-curator. His love for Sydney’s electronic music scene has also seen him throw open the Opera House doors to clubs such as Goodgod, Australian label Future Classic and local communities like Club Kooky, Astral People and Mad Racket.
In marrying artists who stretch the concept of performance with a building that symbolises the liberating power of art, Ben’s goal has been to present “people who work in the new territories, the places in between, the places out at the edges” as outlined by legendary musician, producer and Vivid LIVE’s inaugural curator Brian Eno.
From the Curator
"You’ll remember when the music strikes you at Vivid LIVE at Sydney Opera House this year. Powerful, goose-bump inducing explorations of artistic evolution are woven throughout this program - from Cat Power exclusively reinterpreting the moment Bob Dylan went electric, Devonté Hynes going classical with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in his only Australian appearance, Jaguar Jonze’s unique one-off presentation of The Art of Broken Pieces, to José González stripping everything back to just himself and a guitar for his exclusive residency celebrating the 20th Anniversary of his seismic album Veneer.
We are incredibly proud to host the Sydney debuts of Max Richter’s majestic, moving Ambient Orchestra and the mighty Ethel Cain, to present the triumphant return of Ella Mai and welcome Yaeji back for two exclusive nights, and to finally present the first Sydney Opera House headline performances from artists like Budjerah, Weyes Blood, Thundercat, Becca Hatch, Sleaford Mods, Birdz & Fred Leone and many others.
And, as always, we hand the building over to the brilliant local collectives who help make Sydney somewhere worth living – from House of Mince’s 12th birthday to Mad Racket, Picnic and Future Classic’s Studio parties and Low Life’s stunning curation of Scandinavian post-punk + more over two evenings of Posh Isolation.
Lighting of the Sails fittingly honours Australia’s legendary artist John Olsen in the 50th anniversary year of the Sydney Opera House, home to Olsen’s beguiling mural Salute to Five Bells. A dazzling, carefully curated arc of Olsen’s most significant works will be brought to life by Curiious, and reflect all the awe and wonder of nature as seen through the artist’s eyes.
I’m elated to contribute the 2023 Vivid LIVE music program to Sydney’s ongoing renaissance. Vivid Sydney continues to be a galvanising force, reigniting life in the heart of this city I deeply care for, especially in the 50th year of the Sydney Opera House - that is, after all, everyone’s house."
Sydney Opera House Head of Contemporary Music and Vivid LIVE Curator, Ben Marshall
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Cat Power Sings Dylan
Indie rock royalty Cat Power returns to the Sydney Opera House for one very special night, as she recreates Bob Dylan’s legendary 1966 ‘Royal Albert Hall’ performance in her stunning, uniquely interpretive style.
Returning to Australia for the first time since his sold-out 2018 Sydney Opera house show, master singer-songwriter José González celebrates the 20th anniversary of the album that launched him, 2003’s indie folk classic, Veneer.
Max Richter: Ambient Orchestra with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra
Making his triumphant return to Vivid LIVE, contemporary classical genius Max Richter is back with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra for an innovative new performance in the Concert Hall for an orchestral journey through ambient sound.