Katie Noonan, the SSO and Elixir set to perform with Michael Leunig: "We feel honoured to work with a master."
Katie Noonan has once again ascended the heights of artistic endeavour, announcing a brand new show at the Sydney Opera House. On this very special occasion, she will take to the stage with her gorgeous group Elixir - featuring her husband Zac - as well as the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and perform works written with cartoonist and poet Michael Leunig. Not only is this a great meeting of minds and hearts, Leunig will be drawing live on stage. Katie tells Music Love, "Michael’s works are profound – an intimate exploration of what it is to be human, what it is to care and have compassion in the modern world and keep an open heart amidst adversity. His gentle and loving words seemed a perfect match for the quiet and gentle music we make in Elixir and it has been a match made in heaven!"
Elixir formed twenty years ago, and Katie says that the preparation leading up to the show entitled Gratitude and Grief has been, "like putting on old comfy flannelette pyjamas! We have a special, intimate musical world we make that we can easily slip into and out of. Elixir is my longest running project – we formed in 1997 around the time I first met my now husband Zac, and [jazz guitarist] Stephen [Magnusson] joined us about twelve years ago. Elixir is a very special project for Zac and I as we get to return to being purely musicians together – away from the business of parenting and general adulting!"
Audiences can expect ten of Leunig's poems to be re-interpreted and performed using spoken word poetry, vocals and improvisation, as well as a selection of Elixir’s previous catalogue alongside their favourite songs by other artists. It's not the first time Katie has teamed up with the iconic poet. In 2015, Katie collaborated with Leunig for her crowd-funded record Peace Is My Drug, which will be performed on the night. But Katie's favourite piece for the forthcoming concert is one entitled When The Heart, and told Music Love, "It’s such a beautiful poem and moving image. That was the second Leunig song I wrote – it just fell together very easily. "
It's been a busy year for Katie, who has been successful in her role as the Artistic Director the Queensland Music Festival - the highlight being a choir of thousands of voices singing You're the Voice in solidarity for those who have been affected by domestic violence, and pulling off the major move of surprising audiences with John Farnham himself.
She has also released Songs of the Latin Skies with classical guitarist Karin Schaupp, which picked up an ARIA Award two weeks ago. Katie used the opportunity during their acceptance speech to challenge the board of ARIA to bring a woman to the table. Ever the advocate for women, Katie tells Music Love, "I wasn't sure what I was going to say to be honest – I find preparing speeches always jinxes you so I was kind of improvising!" She adds, "I think in the current climate of the #metoo global conversation, in the age of the Harvey Weinsteins and Donald Trumps, and the overall questioning of the patriarchy, it just felt timely to comment on the need for women to support other women and for feminist men to realise their privilege and question the paradigm. The corporate top end of town would benefit greatly from having more feminine energy and I think this is particularly pertinent in the arts – which is essentially about communicating the human experience. We women are good at that – so let us in the boardrooms and help us enable systemic change for the next generation!"
In the meantime, Katie is getting on with the business of being a wonderful artist and collaborator and these special performances with Michael Leunig promise to be nothing short of magical.
"It's extraordinarily special – we feel honoured to work with a master and a very special and nice human."
Katie Noonan, Elixir and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra will perform Gratitude and Grief with Michael Leunig from 2-4 November at the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Tickets start from $69. Book here.