Girls Night Out: Perth Symphony Orchestra Brings Girl Power To Astor Theatre

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Girls Night Out Girls Night Out

Let's go girls!

The Astor Theatre in Mount Lawley, WA will be overcome by talented ladies ready to bring the house down as they celebrate with you, the music of power women throughout history.

This is the second year of 'Girls Night Out', a show put together by the Perth Symphony Orchestra. Perth's first entirely female orchestra will joining the incredible voices of Rose Parker, Sophie Foster, Odette Mercy and Lucy Peach.  

Plus, all of the charts, arrangements and compositions are written by local women, with the incredible talents of Kathy Potter, Cara Fesjian, Julia Nicholls and Stephanie Nicholls confirmed to write the scores. In addition, Alana Fay, Chelsea Cullen and Mia Matthiessen will join the 25-strong orchestra and lead singers as backing vocalists for the shows.

Check out the bottom of the story and fill in the form for a chance to win a double pass to the show on 31 May.

Here, Perth Symphony Orchestra Founder Bourby Webster answers some questions about the event.

What can audiences expect from Girls Night Out?
Girls Night Out is a mix of unbelievable fun, and total celebration! These are the songs you sing in the shower, the car, getting ready for a night out, at your wedding reception… Not to mention at karaoke.

We are performing songs by iconic women across time, from Nina Simone to Beyonce on a scale you’ve never heard them before. And we’re more than a little proud that everyone involved just happens to be a women… From the drummer to the stage manager, sound engineer to composer… Let’s see if anyone can tell the difference…!
How did the production come about?
Perth Symphony positions itself as different, we break the rules. We believe that orchestras are as relevant now as they ever have been – as long as we can perform music that helps people make sense of the world around us, understand issues, reflect how the population is feeling.

Our almost 100 per cent female admin team had all shared #metoo experiences and felt saddened that inequality and abuse is still so rife in the world today. But we all felt so proud of how many incredible women from the field of music have played a role in inspiring women for decades.

So we wanted to celebrate that. Put women on a pedestal, unashamedly, for one epic production, simply because we could. We wanted to celebrate something great about women: their ability to change the world through music and song.
With so many musicians and singers involved, how is the show structured?
The stage is certainly going to be packed! We have the Perth Symphony string section plus our Principal Oboeist playing keys (she is a kick arse piano player too AND she arranged many of the songs for orchestra #somuchtalent), a female bassist and drummer, and female saxophonist... And percussion!

We have three backing vocalists, who also get a chance to shine, plus FOUR of WA’s most incredible female singers fronting the orchestra. Each will take it in turns to celebrate three or four artists – but at one point (don’t want to give too much away, but could be a Spice Girls moment) everyone gets on stage for a boogie.
The content of the show is 100 per cent women; from singing, to arrangements, to playing instruments; that's an empowering statement. You must be honoured to be part of the show?
There is nothing more rewarding than seeing great talent shine. My job is a total privilege. I get to work with incredible women every day.

Many have children and their ability to juggle being the primary carer with a job that is mostly evenings and requires a great deal of private practice, is just remarkable. Honoured? Yes! Humbled too!

The night features orchestral rendition of songs by the likes of Beyoncé, Tina Turner, Madonna, Adele, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone – do you expect audience members to be dancing in the aisles (even chair dancing)?
Frankly, dancing (chair dancing where one jiggles ones bottom or isle dancing where you dance like no-one is watching) is compulsory – all of our shows that have been part of 'The Music Of' series have had everyone up dancing by the end, but I’ve a feeling we will be kicking things off early with this show.

With these artists, how can you not?! We might have some professional dancers just to give a little inspiration (note: if you’re coming, a quick refresh of the dance moves for ‘Single Ladies’ prior to leaving home is advised).
To be able to present a second show to meet demand must be an exhilarating feeling, right?
It’s also terrifying… One night is 1,000 patrons. Two nights is a 100 per cent increase – that’s a lot of pressure for a young orchestra determinedly using local talent, but we have been amazed at ticket sales so far, and while we never get too far ahead of ourselves, we’re looking forward to some very full houses!
Who is a woman that inspires you?
I don’t follow politics, but every time I’ve seen Jacinda Ardern speak, or read a report about her, she just seems utterly ‘whole’ and comfortable with who she is. A ‘real’ woman on a ‘real’ mission. I also hugely admire Beyonce – total control of her life, her business and her talent. And then there is the utter courage of Malala Yousafzai... gulp, imagine what the world would be like if we could all have her resolve and vision.
Favourite girl power anthem?
Argh – impossible. You can’t ask that. Come to the show and maybe the one I sing the loudest will be the give-away?
What is your most empowering item of clothing?
Red coat. BRIGHT red coat. A red coat you could see through a fog. I put it on, and there is no hiding, so I have to be 100 per cent me, and it makes me feel that way. Amazing what a coat can do.
How important is the #metoo and #timesup movements to the future of women in society?
On every level #metoo changed the world. We suddenly realised abuse and harassment against women are still rife, and happening right on our door step, to our best friend, to our boss, to our sibling. It was shocking.. I could barely open Facebook when it first broke with friend after friend writing a #metoo story.

How could we not have known? Shining a light is the start of the end. It’s made many men take a real look at what ‘blokey’ behaviour might mean to them, and what it might mean to a woman. Women are starting to do their bit by being brave and standing up to it and reporting it. We now need men to do the same.
Can we expect 'Girls Night Out' to become an annual event?
Perth Symphony is constantly pushing boundaries, exploring new things, so there are no guarantees of a repeat, but regardless, we will absolutely continue to shine a light on women, empowering, inspiring, supporting and showcasing them for the incredible talents they are.
What's it like to perform alongside such a range of talented women?
It makes me realise how role models are important, at every level. We need women to keep breaking stereotypes, fighting inequality, showing what commitment, pride, determination and more can achieve. Every woman in Perth Symphony has given me reason to do what I do every day, no matter how tough it gets. And I’ve no doubt that 'Girls Night Out' will ensure I shed a tear or two of utter pride in the women I call my friends and colleagues. I can’t wait.

'Girls Night Out' is on at Astor Theatre (Perth) 30-31 May.


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