Review / Griffyn deliver the expected unexpected

music
“The Three Futurists”
The Griffyn Ensemble
Belconnen Arts Centre, Saturday, August 23
Reviewed by Ian McLean

I LEARNED from “The Lost Mapmaker” to expect the unexpected from the Griffyn Ensemble in 2014. My expectations proved correct!

This fascinating aural and visual experience (rather than concert) explored faith, science and human understanding as part of National Science Week and posed the question – “Do you believe?”

While I’m not exactly sure what I was meant to believe the Griffyn players were certainly aware as they presented a varied and committed performance engrossed in their collaboration with robots, ethereal dancers and a ghettoblaster.

Instrumental playing standard, highlighted by Holly Downs on bass, was as impeccable as ever while choreography from Liz Lea was inventive and mesmerising and far superior to her poor achievement with “L’Orfeo” just a few days ago.

Offerings varied from incorporation of mechanical sounds into music to a song discovered in Turkey in the 19th century where soprano Susan Ellis sang of Helen of Troy as she systematically seemed to cast a spell of silence on her fellow performers. Then there was 1997 Radiohead combining politics with electronic music, a story of robots protecting their young and finally, a work for ghettoblaster and instrument based on a George Bush interview about the Iraq war.

It all sounds a bit weird but it was a constantly enthralling and thought provoking evening. Just to complete the intriguing mix there was audience participation. Of course, not the expected kind – on this occasion the audience was invited to undertake Utopia and Ethnographic Assessments. Certainly not an experience previously encountered.

Like surreal visual art this fascinating evening presented a challenge but a challenge well worth delving into. Where will Chapter 3 of the Griffyn Fairy Tales lead us? I’m sure it’s a journey the ever-growing band of followers of the inventive Griffyn Ensemble will anticipate with some relish.

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