David Bowie (check out the ACMI exhibition!) probably represents the epitome of English glam rock, but across the river, down St Kilda Road, and into Southbank Boulevard, the Melbourne Recital Centre is turning its musical focus to the many genres of American music in the ‘Great American Songbook Festival’. The month–long musical smorgasbord runs from 12 June and features acclaimed performers of Broadway classics, jazz standards and pop hits. They include Mary Wilson of The Supremes, Storm Large, Michael Falzon and Bobby Fox interpreting Burt Bacharach, some 1930s Manhattan chic, and Mama Alto playing homage to Billie Holiday.
‘Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great’ is the National Gallery of Victoria’s major winter offering at its St Kilda Road complex from 31 July. This sumptuous exhibition showcases one of the world’s greatest art collections; 400 outstanding works including the finest group of Dutch and Flemish art to come to Australia, including Rembrandt, Rubens, Velázquez and Van Dyck. This exclusive Melbourne exhibition will also highlight the innovation and vision of Catherine the Great, who created the foundations for the Hermitage today – considered to be one of the world’s greatest treasure houses of art and decorative arts.
In this year of wartime commemoration, the Gallery has also devoted space to ‘Follow the Flag: Australian Artists and War 1914–45’ Its a major exhibition showing the work of Australian artists who drew on their experiences of war between 1914 and 1945. It comprises a diverse range of works; including paintings, works on paper, photographs, sculpture, and vernacular art. Through the work of some of Australia’s most well-known artists it reveals the experiences of Australians actively engaged in the armed forces and those at home. Importantly it reflects the diversity of attitudes and experiences of this turbulent time in Australia and around the world.
Theatres of War exhibition: Hamish Blake and Andy Lee in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan, 2008. Photograph by Captain Al Green, Courtesy of Department of Defence.
Next door to the NGV, under the Spire of Arts Centre Melbourne’s Theatres Building, a more light-hearted tribute to wartime is embraced in its free winter exhibition ‘Theatres of War: Wartime Entertainment and the Australian Experience’. Rare objects, photographs, posters, letters and more are used to tell stories ranging from concert party performers on the Western Front, female impersonators and opera singers in the jungles of New Guinea, to pop stars bringing music from home to Vietnam. Items are drawn primarily from Arts Centre Melbourne’s Performing Arts Collection, as well as the Australian War Memorial and private collections. A special ‘Theatres & Exhibition’ guided tour runs at 11am every Monday to Saturday. The tour includes an insider’s look at the Theatres of War exhibition, plus significant works of Australian art around the foyers and a tour through the many theatres hidden deep underground.
Down the river at Crown, their winter kicks off with the Crown Vegas program, then follows through with a range of affordable dinner and show packages at The Palms, including The Rat Pack from Vegas on 26&27 June, Bjorn Again on 4 July, Damien Leith 10 July, The Australian Bees Gees Tour on 1 August and Chocolate Starfish on 7 August.
There’s absolutely no reason to sit at home this winter watching the rain fall against the windows. Trains from all over Melbourne take you right into the heart of Southbank, via Flinders Street Station, or enjoy special winter parking deals at Wilson Parking under Eureka Tower, Crown parking, or DFO South Wharf parking (50% discount when you buy something).