Events & Festivals

Songs of the Suburbs, Songs of the Sea|Race Against Time|The Secret in the Wings|Songs, Travel and Journeys|Mbira Masters of Zimbabwe

Hidden gems of Fremantle Festival

Okay, so you’ve booked your tickets to the big names at this year’s festival, the likes of Bernard Fanning, Waleed Aly or Dan Sultan but in true Freo style you only need to scratch the surface and there’s way more to discover.

Fremantle Festival is moving to be a fully curated arts festival where all shows are selected to resonate with this place. In some cases the Fremantle Festival is the only place you can catch these quirky and unique performances.

With that in mind we’ve found five hidden gems at stunning Fremantle venues that we think you need to see...

The Secret in the Wings | 26 October–29 October

Funny, fierce and fantastical, The Secret in the Wings is filled with stories of love, cruelty and transformation. Fusing drama, puppetry and live music into a highly visual performance framed by the classic story Beauty and the Beast, this visually-intriguing performance explores the most profound lesson of fairy tales: that you must love a thing before it is lovable.

Race Against Time | Sunday 30 October

Race Against Time presents the poignant times and moving music of a little known Great War soldier composer: Australian Frederick Septimus Kelly. A gold medal Olympian rower, awarded soldier, renowned pianist and brilliant composer–this performance will tell the story of how Kelly persisted with his composing before meeting his demise on the Somme.

Letters and diaries sensitively woven with the sublime music Kelly composed at war will be presented at the Fremantle Town Hall at this Western Australian exclusive event.

Songs, Travel and Journeys | Sunday 30 October

Mezzo Soprano Linda Barcan and pianist Chris van Tuinen interlock poetry and music in a deeply moving song cycle of discovery, loss and redemption. Beautifully backgrounded by the resonant acoustics of St John’s Anglican Church, Songs, Travels and Journeys is a suite of classical music fit for a port town.

Songs of the Suburbs, Songs of the Sea | Wednesday 2 November

Kav Temperley (Eskimo Joe) fetches together some of Perth and Fremantle’s most distinguished tunesmiths and storytellers – amongst them MC Empty, the succulent Lucy Peach and legend Steve Parkin – for a profound and intimate night that weaves our streets, landscapes and lives together in a revealing musical portrait of a city.

Mbira Masters of Zimbabwe | Friday 4 November

Garikayi Tirikoti is a renowned master and innovator of the Zimbabwean thumb piano, the 'mbira'. Born into a family of traditional Shona healers in Zimbabwe, he began learning at a young age the cultural significance and application of the mbira through participating in all night 'bira' ceremonies with his elders. You can see Garikayi and his son Reason at the beautiful St John’s Anglican Church.


Fremantle Festival is on from 28 October through to 6 November. View a full program here.

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|Bernard Fanning - image Cybele Malinowski|Clementine Ford|C.W. Stoneking|St Georges Cathedral Consort

Fremantle Festival essay

A foghorn betrays the silence. There are things moving out there, beyond the roily black frontier. Living things. A ship pulls in, its souls hungry for wine and song. And another ship pulls out with its cargo and secrets bound tight, back to the immunity of the sea.

Such is the ordinance of a port city–a place of eternal transaction and ferment. A confluence of ideation and imagination. A reservoir of stories from both within and from the furthest known realms. For what are we but parables and potboilers? Civilisations rise and, without exception, civilisations crumble. And all we have left to pick over, amidst the hysterical gulls, are the ruins...ruins and, of course, stories. Stories both long and tall. Stories so pungent even the stubborn Freo Doctor couldn’t chase them to cure.

Fremantle is trussed together with such stories–a gritty epoxy, made up of one part limestone, two parts water, three parts ramblin’. It comes with the territory of being a frontier place at the extremities of land, water and imagination. Like Ptolemy’s Alexandria and Jonah’s Jaffa, Fremantle is–by default of this frontier status–a place where time begins and time ends. A city eternally betrothed to mystery and chimera–a pedigree that traces back to time immemorial. To Walyalup, the everlasting ganglion of song and ritual. Of lore and diffusion.

Gone are the days of searching out borrowed myths and second-hand applause–as those that came before. There is gold and bone dust enough strewn here amidst the sonorous streets to fuel an eternity of dreams–and songs plenty enough to rouse us from our reverie. For these streets wear their shadows like skin. Every pockmarked brick the bearer of a secret, every half-drawn curtain witness to an extraordinary tale. The old merchant manors groan heavy with knowing that our time is now.

Art, too, resides at life’s very frontiers–frantically searching out hairline cracks in the grandiose illusion. Panning for ultimate truths in that brackish creek of gold dust that eternally leads to no place in particular. Art dares to stare down the loaded barrel of a burning sun–the blinding utopian illusion, the perennial trick of the light–to remind us that salt stings, sun burns, silence deafens and ennui beseeches revolt.

And it’s here and now where we find ourselves, at a milepost in this narrative–a moment of reflection, revelry and re-imagination. It’s a thrilling proposition indeed, and fittingly the Fremantle Festival brings us to the cultural precipice with its most ambitious and germane program yet. We invite you to stay a while. To explore and consider. To holler and dance. But, more so, we invite you to join us here upon the spirituous communal stage that is Freo–and be a part of the story.

Julian Tompkin

Tickets on sale for Fremantle Festival 2016, view the full program here.

Julian Tompkin
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Related image for LIVE - Fremantle Winter Festival

LIVE - Fremantle Winter Festival

Tune in here on Thursday 30 June  at 3.30pm for Fremantle story's LIVE stream at the Fremantle Winter Festival ice rink on Esplanade Reserve. Watch the graceful and not so graceful moves of Fremantle and Perth’s best amateur ice skaters, as they waltz, ballet, donut, pancake, corkscrew, leg split and slide their way across the ice. Be amazed by the miniature skating penguins as they tow kids and adults around the rink. 

Tune in to our LIVE stream

Thursday, 30 June 2016 3:30 to 4:30 pm AWST


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