Second 'Carnivale Christi' Catholic arts festival scheduled for Melbourne

Second 'Carnivale Christi' Catholic arts festival scheduled for Melbourne

Michael Gilchrist

Following the inaugural Carnivale Christi in Melbourne in 2002 a second will take place between 25 September and 3 October 2003. Carnivale Christi is a Catholic arts festival inspired by a similar event in Sydney which has been organised by university societies, drama groups, and other Catholic youth organisations for the past three years. And as reported earlier in AD2000, Carnivale Christi has also been successfully presented in Brisbane and Wagga Wagga.

The patrons of Melbourne's Carnivale Christi are Archbishop Denis Hart, former Governor of Victoria, Sir James Gobbo, and Lady Gobbo, Richard Divall OBE, and Leopoldine Mimovich OAM.

The festival director is Francine Houlihan, a Melbourne primary school teacher, who has directed community and school theatre, choirs and orchestras. She is a former Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarship holder to Canada, where she studied music.

Fr Franco Cavarra, a recently ordained priest of the Melbourne Archdiocese, is artistic consultant to Carnivale Christi (Melbourne) and advises Francine Houlihan, who is responsible for the overall artistic direction of the festival. Prior to his ordination in 1998, he had had a long and distinguished career as a festival director, a director of theatre and an opera producer, as well as being a lecturer in Opera Studies at the Victorian College of the Arts.

The committee responsible for organising the festival consists of young Catholic professionals from widely varied backgrounds - legal, business, theatrical, music and communications. Committee members have been involved in such areas as World Youth Day, Thomas More Summer Schools, the Christus Rex Pilgrimage and National Evangelisation Teams.

Carnivale Christi's aim is to build up the Body of Christ through presenting Catholic artists' works from the past and the present, particularly works dealing with the mysteries of Christian faith and the heroic lives of Christian men and women.

It is hoped this can be achieved through presenting the Christian culture as joyful, profound and life-giving, inspiring people of good will to open their hearts to the spiritual values which are the mainspring of Christian culture.

In addition, through contact with works of enduring artistic value manifesting Christian truth, today's Christians, and all people of good will, can develop an appreciation of Western culture and the values that our culture embodies.

Carnivale Christi is also intended to support the work of Catholic artists in Australia by providing an opportunity to present their work to receptive audiences. The 2003 Melbourne program will reflect this intention, with many of the events designed to encourage input from young artists.

As in 2002, the works presented will be drawn from traditional Catholic sources as well as contemporary works. The 2003 program will therefore reflect the festival motto taken from St Augustine: "Late have I loved thee, Oh beauty, ever ancient, ever new!"

Highlights of the 2003 program will include The Jeweller's Shop by Karol Wojtyla (26 and 27 September, 8.15pm) by the Genesius Theatre Group; Witness of the Beloved: John's Gospel as Drama, the Gospel according to St John adapted for the stage and featuring Donald McDonald (28 September, 5pm); Grand Masters and Masterpieces: The Knights of Malta as Patrons of the Arts (29 September, 7.30pm); Reshaping the Sacred Anew: The Art of Leopoldine Mimovich (30 September, 7.30pm); Crossin' Over Jordan: A Night of Gospel Music (1 October, 8.00pm); Abbe Franz Liszt on Tour: A Piano Recital, which features the Catholic compositions of Franz Liszt performed by Stephanie McCallum (2 October, 8.15pm). Stephanie is recording these works for an ABC CD.

Sung Mass

The festival will conclude with the Missa Te Deum to be celebrated in St Patrick's Cathedral on 3 October at 8.00pm by Archbishop Denis Hart. The Archbishop's excellent singing voice is well-known and much appreciated at sung Masses.

The Missa Te Deum is by the relatively unknown English composer Hugh Aston, written during the reign of Queen Mary Tudor. Additional music at this Mass will include Motets by Thomas Tallis.

The two theatre events will be staged in the Randall Theatre at St Martins in St Martins Lane, South Yarra. The Randall Theatre is a 350 seat proscenium arch theatre which will be an ideal performing space for the young Wojtyla's work, The Jeweller's Shop, and for St John's Gospel adapted by Donald McDonald.

Facilities at the St Patrick's campus of the Australian Catholic University will also be available for the festival. The Mercy Theatre will be used for its two public lectures while the Gallery will be the location of the Mimovich Retrospective.

The Next Blue is a nightclub at Southbank and proved to be a popular venue for the evening of Gospel music in 2002. This will again be the venue for the Gospel evening in 2003.

The piano recital will take place in Melba Hall at the Conservatorium of Music at Melbourne University.

Tickets for Carnivale Christi can be obtained through its website - www.carnivalechristi.org - and inquiries can be directed to Francine Houlihan at (03) 9583 9494.

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