05 MAR 2018

An interview with Michael Falzon

When it comes to getting the "swing" treatment, no song is off-limits if Michael Falzon's production Swing on This is anything to go by. 

Ahead of his SSO performance of the show – which features swing takes of songs by everyone from The Proclaimers to Oasis – the Swing on This Musical Director talks about why he loves the genre, who he’d like to meet from the original Rat Pack and why he just had to put John Farnham through the "swing filter".

What made you bring four of Australia’s leading male performers together to do a swing-inspired show?

I had known my co-performers Ben Mingay and Rob Mills from around the traps for many years. I’d seen Ben in An Officer and a Gentleman and I met Rob at a party after Wicked one night. Like people in any field of work, you strike up friendships. I’m a big fan of swing and it was a genre we all liked. I had this idea that it would be wonderful to bring a few mates together in concert and it seemed like the right engine to facilitate that. I’d seen Luke Kennedy on The Voice and hoped we would be able to lend his beautiful vocals to the mix (so I wouldn’t have to sing all the high notes)! That was almost four years ago and audiences won’t let us put it bed – which we are, of course, very happy about!

How do you prepare for a performance with such a big "band" like the SSO?

Every time we step out on stage, we’ve had a session or two around the table thinking, “How do we make the show better? What can we do this time? What else would we like to do?” We can honestly say no two shows have ever been the same. The SSO concert is no different so we’re planning some new material, new arrangements, and some orchestrations for a "band" this size that no-one will ever have heard before. It has been months in the planning and really will be very special.

What made you fall in love with swing music?

What’s not to love? Sinatra – even as a kid, influenced the way I sing. The arrangements, the firepower of a big horn section (lost in a lot of music today, as popular music has evolved) is very exciting live. It seems easy but it’s a genre that requires a definite style that comes with experience. All the lads of Swing on This have made their names in their respective fields and come at this music with a shared enthusiasm and respect. We’re happy to be sharing that love with Australian audiences, as swing hasn’t really been done on this scale in this country before.

What’s your favourite pop song that has been put through the "swing filter" and why?

At my first Helpmann Awards, back when I had been nominated for We Will Rock You, I met an Aussie icon who I was a great fan of. He walked up to me, said “Hi Michael, congratulations”, and I was gobsmacked. It was John Farnham. He’d seen the show but couldn’t have known what an influence he’d been to me as a young rock tenor. It took a long time to build up the courage to tackle his music and do it justice. Pressure Down is the first song we put through our "swing filter".

If you had the chance to sit down with any member of the original Rat Pack, who would it be?

Sammy Davis Jr. Not only was he a true song and dance man, he was performing at a time when he wasn’t even allowed in some of the venues he was playing. I think he’d have some inspirational stories about his rise and maybe an interesting perspective on Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.

Book now to see the Sydney Symphony Orchestra will be performing across films, musicals, swing, rock and more of your favourite genres.

An interview with Michael FalzonAn interview with Michael Falzon