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Sydney Festival announced today that Academy Award-winning composer of the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack, A.R. Rahman, will give an exclusive free concert at Parramatta Park on Saturday 16 January as part of the 2010 Festival program.
NSW Premier and Sydney Festival President Nathan Rees yesterday made the initial announcement at Sydney Olympic Park at the India Australia Friendship Fair, to an extremely appreciative Indian/Australian crowd. “Oscar award-winning artist A.R. Rahman has generously agreed to offer a one-off, free public concert, as part of Sydney Festival in January next year. The NSW Government in conjunction with Sydney Festival will host the event at Parramatta Park.” The Premier said.
“Without doubt one of the world’s great talents, I am sure Rahman will show Sydney why he is one of the all-time highest selling recording artists. I congratulate Mr Rahman for his leadership and goodwill. We all look forward to having him here next year.”
Sydney Festival had already been in talks with Rahman to perform as part of a program of Indian music and theatre. In concern of the current tensions in Australian/Indian relations as a result of attacks on Indian students in Australia, Rahman himself suggested a free concert as a demonstration of cultural diplomacy and a gesture of goodwill.
Sydney Festival Director Lindy Hume said today “This is effectively the first major announcement of the 2010 Festival.” said Hume. “I’m thrilled we’re starting out with such a big, generous event that, in light of current tensions between India and Australia, will help to reflect our city as a welcoming,socially and culturally inclusive place.”
“While A.R. Rahman deservedly enjoys national hero status in India, he is recognised globally as a truly inspirational and multidimensional artist. Rahman’s music – embracing Indian, Western and Asian influences – connects with hearts and minds all over the world. His generous gesture in sharing his extraordinary talents with Sydney next January is deeply appreciated.”
“I also very much want to acknowledge the significance of the State Government’s support and in particular that of the Premier for his personal commitment.”
Clover Moore MP, Chair of Sydney Festival said, “I welcome the initiative of inviting Mr Rahman to participate in the 2010 Sydney Festival. Apart from bringing his superb music to Sydney, he will also be promoting the values of inclusiveness and cultural diversity.”
A.R. Rahman is the undisputed superstar of contemporary Indian music. In a country of a billion inhabitants where film and pop music are one, Rahman, 43, dominates the music industry. On an international scale, cd sales of his film scores and soundtracks have exceeded 100 million (as well as more than 200 million cassettes) making him one of the world's all-time top selling recording artists.
As well as winning two Oscars for Slumdog Millionaire, Rahman has won 13 Filmfare Awards, four National Film Awards, a BAFTA Award and a Golden Globe. Time magazine named Rahman in The 2009 Time 100 World's Most Influential People.
Sydney Festival is Australia’s largest annual arts festival, showcasing a broad spectrum of Australian and international dance, theatre, visual arts and music. The dates for Sydney Festival 2010 are January 9–30, with the full program announced in early November.