Noosa Alive! with Star-Spangled Eye-Poppers

Image source: Photographer Megan Gill

From the Hinterland to the sand on Noosa Main Beach, a diverse, international-standard program of events filled hearts with music, art, laughter and joy, says Helen Flanagan.

Over ten glorious days and nights, Noosa alive! 2023 celebrated its 21st birthday with absolute gusto and powerful energy that exceeded expectations, smashed records with sold-out events, and broke new ground.

“We crossed the finishing line in a blaze of glory,” said ecstatic Festival Director Ian Mackellar. “From dance parties and Opera under the Stars on Noosa Main Beach, world premiere performances with the Queensland Ballet, an intimate evening with the sublime Meg Washington and Paul Grabowsky to the jaw-dropping performances of Cirque Bon Bon Encore, and so much more.

“Heralded as the best program ever, audiences continually expressed gratification for so many wonderful world class events, Aria award-winning artists, scrumptious lunches, film with food and our new creative association with Sunshine Coast Screen Collective; a riveting and topical literature events program, and of course the bright icing on the festival cake was the opening weekend party on Noosa Beach and the equally exciting finale weekend called ‘alive in the Woods’ aka Noosa Woods.

“Headliners Kate Ceberano, Vika and Linda, Emma Pask, Rhonda Burchmore, Raw Ordio, Bobby Alu, Amy Whitehouse Show Band, Rob Edwards, TOBiAS, Sari Abbott, Tjaka, Ampersand and numerous support acts performed in front of super enthusiastic crowds.”

A personal highlight for Ian was presenting the second year of Noosa STARS alive! finalists and young stars
of the future aged 8 to 18. Guest judge Rhonda Burchmore was blown away with the calibre and talent of the 10 final acts however after a difficult decision, vocal duo Tatum Furniss and Harriette Larner who performed a vocally polished and entertaining Taylor Swift mega mix, received the $1,000 prize and a guaranteed performance at next year’s festival.

On what is generally regarded as the coldest week of the year at Pomona, it was snug inside the historic Majestic Theatre for Slow Food Noosa’s Film With Food. Celebrated chef Matt Golinski joined fellow chefs Luigi Logrieco and Alberto Vitassovich of Lucio’s Marina Restaurant, and Glenn Bowman of Pitchfork Peregian Beach to present a three-course Italian menu, inspired by the film, The Perfect Dinner, a delectable immersion in the world of Italian cuisine.

“Another brilliant festival,” agreed effervescent Damien Anthony Avery-Rossi. “We so enjoyed the Alive in the Woods event with amazing performers, and I haven’t danced so much in ages!

“Of course, the absolute highlight for me was sharing the stage with my dear friend for our show, Rhonda Burchmore: Up Close & Personal with DAAR. Such fun and no one knows how to work a room better than Rhonda! One guest said it was the best offering they’d ever seen at the festival… and you can bet I had him put that in writing!”

Festival patrons Dr Ian and Johanne Wright were thrilled to sponsor the Queensland Ballet and “as usual Li and his amazing young ballet stars did not disappoint. As a half Scot (Johanne), I was blown away by the first ballet called Tartan. The Festival really had something for everyone, and we loved everything.”

Similarly, patrons and devotees, John Deshon AM and Gwenyth Yuill who were passionate about the ballet; Film with Food; Seafood Seduction at Ricky’s Restaurant with a lovely trio playing; Rhonda and Damien-Anthony; Kate Ceberano; and the show-stopping Cirque Bon-Bon Encore.

“What dazzling acrobatic performances on a relatively tiny stage demanding no-fault precision at high risk,” said John, “also supported by flamboyant dancing and skilful juggling. Tenori Under the Stars (on the beach) was enhanced by harpist Hayley Erin who played with great artistry, soprano Laura Coutts a knockout, and overall, a splendid event.”

Host/MC extraordinaire for Tenori Under the Stars was John Caruso who began the evening by offering to play roadie for harpist Hayley Erin commenting on the size and shape of the instrument only to learn it was as light as a feather. He then went on to remind Noosa Alive organisers that with a surname like ‘Caruso’ he was bewildered why they hadn’t asked him to perform. “There’s always next year,” he said.

The Australian Chamber Orchestra led by Richard Tognetti and vocalist Satu Vänskä, delivered a program to “exhilarate the senses” – an amazing compliment from our own Georgia Beard, aged 21, admitting it was her first encounter with live classical music.

“I’m a bit of an old soul mostly sticking to alternative rock and folk, but the power of the music was palpable from a tumultuous symphony by Wojciech Kilar, stirring and sombre compositions by Mozart, Bach and Dvořák, to enchanting us with Danish folk dances and vocal pieces by Kurt Weill and Randy Newman. Now I’m desperate for more!”

In true Emma Pask style, she was incredibly happy spending a Sunday afternoon in Noosa Woods making music for a delighted fan-filled audience.

“A huge thank you for having us, and to all the amazing behind-the-scenes volunteers, who give their time generously and work tirelessly to help bring the festival to life,” Emma enthused. “Bravo! Here’s to next year! Can I come back, and bring a Big Band?”

Noosa alive! 2023, which attracted more than 15,000 attendees to ticketed and free events including Noosa Regional Gallery’s Floating Land and Rising Seas outdoor exhibition, will be blasting off with more festival fun and fabulosity from 19 to 28 July 2024, its 22nd year.

See you there!

About the Author /

Noosa’s sophisticated charm, vibrant food culture and the magnetism of a subtropical paradise surrounded by national parks, inveigled Helen’s manic world and flipped it on its side. She pursues the good life with gusto, instinctively understanding the joys of travel, the art of story-telling, a candid review and surviving another reno whilst thriving on the motto Live Laugh Love!

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