Monday, June 12, 2023





My Life is a Symphony. Kate Ceberano with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra conducted by Vanessa Scammell.

Arrangements by Roscoe James Irwin. The Festival Theatre. Adelaide Festival Theatre. June 10th. 2023

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins.

My Life is  a Symphony is a magnificent celebration of the wonderful Kate Ceberano’s forty year career. The programme ranges in scope as testimony to her remarkable vocal range from soulful ballads like Sweet Inspiration to iconic pop songs like Brave and Pash  to her beloved songs from JC Superstar in honour of John Farnham. It is this acknowledgement of her very close friend that epitomizes Ceberano’s deep love for life and humanity. From the achingly melodious tune of I Don’t Know How To Love Him to the cautionary warning of epic rock song Sunburn and the inspiring encouragement of Courage, Ceberano embraces a world of struggle and of joy, of hope and of resolve, of disappointment and of epiphany. Over forty years of songwriting Ceberano has traced out metaphors for living with symphonic virtuosity. My Life Is A Symphony is more than a retrospective of Australia’s beloved chauntese. It is a melody from the heart, harmonizing with the chambers of the mind and soaring to the soul.

The grandiose sounds of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra under the baton of the effusive Vanessa Scammell elevate Ceberano’s august talent to visceral wonderment. Everu song throughout the two acts of this one night concert at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival is a lesson in life’s journey, a world to delight in, a life to live to the utmost, a struggle to overcome and a victory to be won. Deeply spiritual, Ceberano’s compassion and love reverberates throughout My Life is a Symphony. From Earth and Sky to Champion. From Sympathy to Mirrorball  Ceberano’s voice is a spinning reflection of who we are. The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra rises to the occasion. There is the inspirational urging of the strings, the stirring encouragement of the brass, the forceful resolve of the percusiion, all giving support to Roscoe James Irwin’s innovative arrangement and Ceberano’s often haunting and always uplifting voice.

At the front of the stage, Ceberano is accompanied by and constantly acknowledges and guides four female backing singers including her daughter on one side of the stage and two female guitarists on the oher side of the stage. "It is a lineup of female empowerment" the woman next to me muttered to her companion. I took it to be a very positive and perceptive remark. After all she told me that she had played Mary Magdalen once in a production of JC Supertar.

The programme is a potpourri of life’s astounding symphony and Ceberano’s amazing diversity. From soul to rock and jazz to pop, formet AD of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival Kate Ceberano proves that cabaret can be anything, any genre, any artist and any style that will uplift the human spirit in music and song. That is what Ceberano and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra have done for the Festival Theatre audience. “I will never sing again without a symphony orchestra” Ceberano says as she waves goodbye to an audience who remains in awe of her voice and her love for humanity. And the four young talented female backing singers will continue on, inspired by Ceberano to make their lives a symphony.

Photos by Claudio Raschella