The upcoming Queensland Music Festival is bursting with amazing acts. Here’s a guide to what you need to see.

Jazz virtuoso James Morrison’s pilot licence proves invaluable in his role as artistic director of the Queensland Music Festival.

It enables him, at short notice, to take to the skies and zip across the State to rehearse with regional artists and meet with councils involved in this year’s program.

“You can’t actually get from Mt Isa at night to Jimbour in the Darling Downs by lunchtime the next day any other way than by jumping in your own plane and heading straight there the next morning,” Morrison says. “I’m flying somewhere every day because in the lead up to the Festival there are things I need to be on the ground for. Last week I was in Mt Isa, tomorrow I’m in Moranbah and later the same day I’m down at Logan. My job is hectic, a lot of fun and some of it is quite bizarre.

Morrison describes the Queensland Music Festival as an ‘epic kind of beast’ in that it covers around 1.7 million square kilometres.

“There are so many events on over such a big space. Geographically, it would be one of the largest music festivals in the world. And the level of QMF community engagement is unprecedented because we go into these places two years before and start teaching the participants, upskilling them and giving them the capacity to do their own show. Of course we’ve also got some amazing international artists coming in too.”

Edgar Myer, recognised as the world’s finest double bassist, will perform for the first time in Australia, a QMF exclusive. He will also share his wealth of knowledge in a masterclass for four tertiary level double bass students from Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University. “That’s the deal-breaker,” Morrison says. “We don’t do anything that doesn’t have a legacy attached to it.”

In a match made in heaven, James Morrison will unite with dazzling Romanian jazz pianist Marian Petrescu and Australian songstress Megan Washington.

“That’s going to be fun. Marian is such an inventive character – we could say ‘let’s play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ and we know it’s going to be fantastic. I am fascinated to see what happens when I bring him and Megan together. It will be a mixture of her doing jazz standards and then all of us playing her songs in a new style – like taking a wonderful gemstone and putting it in a new setting.”

Queensland Music Festival 2015 will see thousands across the State take part in ambitious regional events. Under This Sky, the Festival’s largest community event to date, will see more than 700 Logan locals perform in two free outdoor extravaganzas showcasing a day in the life of the multicultural South East Queensland city. Gigantic puppets, fire-twirlers, a brigade of hotted-up lawnmowers, drummers and dancers are just part of the mix in Under This Sky which boasts all original music, written by and for the Logan community.

The banks above Logan Brothers Rugby League field will provide a stunning backdrop for a world premiere production Morrison says is so spectacular that no mere stage can contain it.

“We will have three performance stages spanning 100 metres across the hill and we’re expecting 10,000 or more to attend each night. The people of Logan are getting really excited because this is an opportunity for them to present themselves in a way they don’t normally get to do.”

Queensland’s renowned musical quintet Topology and The Australian Voices will join forces to create Unrepresentative Swill, a provocative musical suite inspired by famous Prime Ministerial speeches. Iconic moments in Australia’s political history such as Robert Menzies’ Declaration of War, Gough Whitlam’s Well May We Say and Julia Gillard’s Misogyny speech will be presented via a seamless overlay of stirring music and brilliant choral work,

“I really liked the idea of taking familiar voices and familiar speeches and finding the music in them,” says Topology’s Robert Davidson. “I don’t actually change the speech but I add accompanying music which makes it sound like the Prime Minister is singing.”

By exploring the distinct pitches and rhythms of famous speeches Davidson, fellow Topology musician John Babbage and The Australian Voices artistic director Gordon Hamilton were able to uncover something special about the personality of the speakers.

“Menzies often spoke in a marching rhythm while Whitlam tends to deliver in a bit of a waltz,” Davidson says. “There is a moment where we’ve taken some of the ignoble moments from Australian Prime Ministers and others such as Robert Menzies’ I did but see her passing by, Paul Keating’s many colorful statements about the Senate, and Jacqui Lambie’s sharia law speech but most of the concert is dignified and we’ve set out to honour these people and their contribution in telling Australia a story.”

“The thing I love about this is that it is simultaneously quite serious, quite moving and absolutely hilarious,” Morrison adds. “It’s satire at its best and there is no better way of reflecting that than through music – I may be a little bit biased of course. Unrepresentative Swill is going to be a very poignant evening. Gripping music combined with significant cultural text – it will be a talking point of this year’s festival.”

QSO, Morrison & Meyer 17 July at 7:30pm, Concert Hall QPAC
Pre-concert talk 6.30pm

Unrepresentative Swill 29 July at 8pm, Concert Hall QPAC

James Morrison with Special Guests Megan Washington & Marian Petrescu 31 July at 8pm, Concert Hall QPAC

Under This Sky 1 Aug/ 2 Aug at 6:30pm, Logan Brothers Rugby League Club

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