A new incoming Artistic Director and a shift into the spring festival circuit, Perth Interntional Jazz Festival is on the move.
Perth International Jazz Festival is back in 2018 showcasing big ticket international acts and the best Australian jazz and improvised music over 3 days of gigs and events in the heart of the city.
AC: Congratulations Mace Francis on your new position as the Artistic Director of the Perth International Jazz Festival. Many people will know you through your work with the WA Youth Jazz Orchestra or Mace Francis Orchestra, but for those who don’t, tell us a little bit about yourself and this appointment.
MF: I am a composer and musician who has been living in Perth since 2000. I moved to Perth to study at the WA Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) where I focused on jazz composition. In 2001 I joined the WA Youth Jazz Orchestra (WAYJO) and since then, I have been in love with big bands and large jazz ensembles. For the last 10 years I have been working as the artistic director of WAYJO and teaching jazz composition at WAAPA, and late last year I was asked to take on the position of festival director at the Perth International Jazz Festival. The festival was started by Graham Wood in 2013 and he sadly passed last year. I was apprehensive at the beginning to take on the festival because of the shoes I was filling (and I have much smaller feet) as well as the workload, but I knew that this city needed a jazz festival and it would have been unfortunate to see it disappear from our cultural landscape. Who else would be crazy enough to take on this volunteer role?
AC: Losing Graham was a huge loss to the Perth and the Australian scene, but it is wonderful that he has left this fantastic weekend of music as a legacy. As a new incoming Director, we look forward to hearing about your program and vision for the festival. Can you tell us what was behind the change of date?
MF: The festival has been historically held in late May/early June (this is our 6th festival), however when I joined in late December 2017, I was pretty adamant we didn’t have enough time to plan and fundraise what was necessary to make a successful festival. I changed the date to November 9-11 to sit in between the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and the Sydney Women’s International Jazz Festival and it allows us to enjoy our spectacular Perth spring weather. It’s been really nice to work together with both Wangaratta and SWIJF to be able to present Trio ELF (GER) and Charenee Wade (USA). I look forward to working with them more in the future as our new Festival Friends.
AC: What are your top picks and highlights from the program?
MF: So many highlights!!! I’m really excited about our international component this year with saxophonist Melissa Aldana and her quartet, composer and bandleader Sara McDonald and vocalist Charenee Wade all coming from the US. We also have Trio Elf from Germany, Satoko Fujii from Japan and Anita Wardell from the UK. I’m also very excited about some Perth ex pats, Sam Anning Sextet and Speedball to knock our socks off, like the old days. There’s also a huge swag of great local talent, which will be so good to see in a festival environment.
AC: Looking like a great line up. Knowing your excellent work in this space, can expect some professional development or educational elements for community/artists in the program?
MF: This year we’re including a wider range of free events in addition to the Free Community Stage. These include ‘Open Rehearsals’ – where the public can observe the rehearsals between visiting artists and local musicians and see how a festival performance comes together. ‘In Conversations’ will be interactive Q&A sessions to hear about the artists’ work, life and creative process, and this year we’ll include a ‘Club Choir’ led by vocalist Libby Hammer that will give people a chance to learn how to sing in a jazz choir in a series of free workshops and then perform at the festival on the Sunday afternoon. I’m hoping these free events will demystify, educate and entertain audiences that may not normally consider themselves jazz fans.
AC: Shaping up to be a very exciting program Mace! Thanks for talking to us.
Tickets are on sale now. Make the most of your festival weekend and take advantage of a State Theatre Centre Weekend Pass for $200, giving you access to 23 shows over three days. Day passes are also available for Friday ($60), Saturday ($100) and Sunday ($100). Tickets are also on sale for individual performances.
For more information, visit: http://www.perthjazzfestival.com.au