For dogs only: near-silent recital at Sydney Opera House

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The Independent Culture

Legendary rocker Lou Reed and artist wife Laurie Anderson will next month bring one of the most bizarre performances to Sydney's Opera House - a recital for dogs, largely inaudible to human ears.

At a press conference on Friday the pair said their programme for Sydney's Vivid LIVE arts festival includes an eclectic mix of heavy guitar music, martial arts and music for dogs.

Multimedia artist Anderson said the inspiration for the canine performance came while she was backstage before an event and thought: "Wouldn't it be great, if you were playing a concert and you look out and you see all dogs?

"And so I said, 'If I ever I get the chance to do something like that I would do it'."

The 20-minute piece, written and performed by Anderson, will be played at high frequency like a dog whistle - a riot of sound for the canines while their owners will be more aware of the noise of the lapping of Sydney Harbour.

Some element of noise will be audible to the human ear - in the form of spoken word and and string instrumentation - but the bulk of the performance on the Opera House forecourt will be for dog ears only.

Anderson, who reportedly owns a rat terrier, said dogs are believed to like the sound of harmonic chords and stringed instruments and, of course, the human voice.

The event is the quirkiest to be hosted by the Opera House since March, when the landmark building was the backdrop for 5,000 nudes posing for photographer Spencer Tunick.

The "Music for Dogs" event will be held on Saturday June 5, with concert-goers expected to bring their dogs along, and is free to all. "You are not charging for dogs," Reed explained.

Organisers of the Vivid festival, which last year was curated by musician and record producer Brian Eno, said they wanted "weird collaborations" for the the May 27 to June 21 event.

The festival will include a performance based on Reed's 1975 album "Metal Machine Music" which was described in a festival media release as "a double album of grating, vocal-less dissonance".

Reed, who helped to invent punk rock and is best known for his 1973 hit "Walk on the Wild Side," said Vivid would also include free martial arts lessons as well as "Slow Music Night," a soulful programme featuring Anderson, gospel singers the Blind Boys of Alabama and other artists.

"So it's a night of music for dogs, soft music and martial arts," Reed said, summing up the festival.