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2009 Event Media Release - Hemispheres 09

Issued: Monday, December 8, 2008


Sydney Opera House launches Hemispheres 09

10 Concerts, 7 Events, 5 Continents, 2 Exclusive Double-Bills, 1 Amazing Series

Hemispheres 09 is a collection of extraordinary music from all parts of the world.

A sign of Sydney Opera House’s ongoing commitment to developing new audiences and responding to the city’s cultural needs, the program will include seven artists from both hemispheres, including Tunisia, China, New Zealand, Cuba, Mali and more.

This special invitation to Sydney’s diverse communities is distinguished by its high quality; the program presents artists who often verge on the legendary in their own cultures but may be unknown in Australia.

Some of the musicians have already stamped their mark on the world stage while others have gained acclaim for their intoxicating sounds and innovative approach to performance.

“Hemispheres 09 brims with virtuosity in styles and instruments that are not part of the mainstream,” Sydney Opera House Associate Director and Acting Head of Music Philip Rolfe said. “The world is full of fantastic music and this program will transport audiences to the most exotic sounds on the planet.”

Hemispheres 09 begins in March with the exotic Sa Dingding who performs in Mandarin, Sanskrit, Tibetan and her own self-created language. Using traditional Chinese instruments alongside electronica, the haunting quality of her voice calls to mind Bjork or Kate Bush.

Drawing on his work as pianist with Buena Vista Social Club, having succeeded the legendary Ruben Gonzalez, Roberto Fonseca possesses a unique percussive style and his compositions draw on his Afro- Cuban heritage and a deep love of jazz, funk and soul.

Returning to The Studio after a sell-out concert in 2007, Tunisian vocalist and master oud play Dhafer Youssef creates mesmerisingly beautiful music that combines a sensual European influence with the mystical sounds of the Middle East.

Next, Israeli pop diva Rita makes her Australian debut in a dramatic and flamboyant concert, brimming with intensity and passionate emotion. Considered by many to be the singer of the State of Israel, Rita performs in Hebrew and English, combining Middle Eastern sounds and distinctive Persian rhythms with original contemporary ballads.

2008 Grammy Award winner for Best Contemporary World Music Album, Angelique Kidjo has done more to popularise African music than any other contemporary. Fusing Afro-funk, salsa, reggae, gospel, jazz and more with shades of classic American rock, pop and soul, she will be joined by Ayọ in the first of two double bills.

The second phenomenal double-bill takes you from the desert to the ocean. Tinariwen’s rolling, yearning grooves and uncompromising messages of simplicity and freedom, distilled over 20 years of struggle, rebellion and exile, have earned them two BBC World Music Award nominations, countless accolades and citations.

On stage Te Vaka deliver an exciting show of drum-driven rhythms, body percussion, traditional Maori, Samoan and Tokelauan sounds and dance, on a journey into the Pacific Islands and the heart of Polynesia

A celebration of global cultures rather than just global music, for the first time in 09, Hemispheres will feature dance with three of the Asian diaspora’s leading talents combining for a contemporary work about the nine key emotional states Rasa Unmasked.

Sydney Opera House has presented world music artists since 2000, primarily in The Studio, with one or two shows in the Concert Hall, notably Gilberto Gil in 2004 and Sergio Mendes in 2006.

Last year Sydney Opera House formalised its relationship with WOMADelaide to present four world music artists in March (Mariza, Asha Bhosle, Bebel Gilberto) and another five over the rest of the year.

Grouped under the Hemisphere’s banner for the first time in 2008, the inaugural season sold more than 24,000 tickets across 17 shows with highlights including Goran Bregovic, Cesaria Evora, Zakir Hussain and Emir Kusturica.

Music lovers who want to experience more of the world can buy Hemispheres multipacks and save. Purchase A or B Reserve tickets to two or more Hemispheres concerts and save 15%. This offer is valid for full and concession tickets only and subject to availability.

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Sa Dingding 
March 8, Concert Hall

Roberto Fonseca 
March 9, Concert Hall

Rasa Unmasked
March 13 – 15, The Studio

Dhafer Youssef 
March 22, The Studio

April 5, Concert Hall

Angelique Kidjo & Ayọ 
April 12, Concert Hall

Tinariwen & Te Vaka 
April 13, Concert Hall

Bookings on 9250 7777 or at


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