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Mad Racket on the Northern Boardwalk at Vivid 2019

About Vivid LIVE

Vivid LIVE is the annual centrepiece of the Opera House’s year-round Contemporary Music program. In 2022, Vivid LIVE will feature Australian premieres, one-off projects and unmissable performances from original Australian artists alongside select top global acts, emerging voices and Sydney’s vibrant local communities who reflect the city’s inimitable contemporary culture. 

This year, Vivid LIVE invites music lovers to return to the world-class venue for a transformative night of live contemporary music as it reignites the city. 

Vivid LIVE is part of Vivid Sydney, the annual celebration of creativity, innovation and technology, which transforms Sydney for 23 days and nights. 

It is the only time of the year that the Opera House dedicates a majority of it’s spaces and venues to one singular art form - from its theatres, rehearsal spaces, foyers, studio, outdoor stages and, most publicly, its iconic sails. 

The Lighting of the Sails is co-curated by the Sydney Opera House and Destination NSW and is both Vivid Sydney and the Opera House’s most significant free event.

Vivid LIVE Curator Ben Marshall sitting on the steps inside the Opera House with his arms resting on his knees
Ben Marshall, Head of Contemporary Music

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, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Wu-Tang Clan, Iggy Pop, Lizzo, Courtney Barnett, Kamasi Washington, New Order, 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), 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

“It has been a genuine privilege to put together this year’s Vivid LIVE program for the city I love, and in doing so it’s clear that Sydney isn’t the same city it was in 2019, or 2020, or even last year. In 2022, we are all feeling the deep communal need to experience art and live concerts together.

This year’s Vivid LIVE artists reflect the international scale and ambition of Sydney’s soul. From Paul Kelly’s exclusive residency with Thelma Plum, and the incredible impact of Sampa The Great, to the remarkable event put together by BLESSED. It’s an honour to be staging the world premiere of Nils Frahm’s new performance, and Hermitude will finally let rip outside on the harbour. Vivid LIVE will herald the Opera House debuts of sublime new artists like MasegoRVG and Miiesha, while we welcome back the mighty Moses Sumney and hand the Opera House over to Sydney’s multifaceted music communities, Astral PeopleClub KookyMad Racket and many more.

Two years in the making, the Lighting of the Sails is an especially significant event this year – the new digital artwork, Yarrkalpa - Hunting Ground, 2021, is an intricate First Nations collaboration between the Pilbara’s eight Martu Artists & Sydney’s Curiious, soundtracked by Electric Fields. The heart of our city needs the electricity of Vivid Sydney running through it now more than ever, and I sincerely hope Vivid LIVE plays its part in bringing audiences together as we step forward into what comes next."

Ben Marshall
Head of Contemporary Music and Vivid LIVE Curator

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