Music / “This Is What We Have Today”. At Ralph Wilson Theatre, Gorman Arts Centre, December 2. Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY.
NEW music is vital to the longevity of music as an art form. This concert by musicians/composers highlighted the quality of a group of multi-talented local artists.
The composer musicians were Ronan Apcar, Oliver Kuskie, Eleanor Bladon, Joel Dreezer, Lily Fowler, Emily Sheppard and Lynden Bassett.
Opening with “A Novel Instrument”, by Kate Neal and Sal Cooper, performed by Ronan Apcar on keyboard. On a semi-dark stage, Apcar stood reading a book and drinking a coffee. He then throws the book to the ground, then another and another until all the books before him are scatted on stage. Music books, of course, he’s had enough of them and perhaps his training.
He plays and, in the background, a video follows along to his playing. It’s repetitive, it’s in the treble, it ends quickly. Then he announces: “Welcome to this psycho concert”.
Then came “Haze”, by Eleanor Bladon, with Brad Tham, violin, Anika Chan, violin, Yona Su, viola, Eleanor Bladon, cello. A loud, dynamic, rhythmic piece strutted its stuff into the ears of the audience. It soon turned reflective, delicate, interspersed with bursts of dissonant rhythmic pulses. It wanders, but it’s well-constructed, movie like. The playing sensational.
Next up was “Plastic in the Depths”, by Joel Dreezer. Performed by Joel Dreezer, flute, Lynden Bassett, electric guitar, Apcar, keyboard.
A whisper beginning from all three players. It’s amplified, it echoes, it’s atmospheric. Then it’s a jazz work straight out of the ’70s, but it’s also classical. It’s fresh and bouncy. It drifts but has something to say. It’s in movements, then it pulses for just a moment; it’s alive and a lot of fun.
Then something rare in the music world, a dual-composed piece, “Welcome to Infinite Content Unlimited”, by Ronan Apcar and Oliver Kuskie. The performers were Lily Fowler, voice, Brad Tham, violin, Yona Su, viola, Eleanor Bladon, cello, Apcar, keyboard.
Fowler comes wandering on to stage. This is surreal in sound and vision. She talks and sings of infinite content. It’s a clash of music. The players yell out as an odd video accompanies them. Fowler looks and sings the part well. Her voice powerful and theatrical. Then the music does something else. It’s crazy, it crosses genres old and new; it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Fowler owned this piece.
After the interval, a video work, “Gross Metal Body Shit”, by Milo Mclaughlin and Jordyn Fulcher. It’s sexual, noisy, it has a narrative in between the electro happenings of the audio and video. It’s difficult to explain, but it’s well-produced. Estrangement seems to be the theme.
Then “Vízalatti Világ” (Underwater World), by Lily Fowler, with Grace Blomfield, soprano, Lilly Flower, alto, Peter Gedeon, tenor, Tim Kelly, bass, Lynden Bassett and Anika Chan wine glasses, Apcar, keyboard. Sounding a lot like a church service, with a video, this is not meant to be an experimental work, but it sounds like it. It’s odd and original.
“Fold In Sifted Flour, Ginger, Bicarb”, by Lynden Bassett followed. This was a performance within music. A complete eclectic composition, which I dare not explain, but it had plastic bag blowing and carrot grating. Dadaism, where have you been?
Ending the night with “Aftermath”, by Emily Sheppard with Yona Su on solo viola. Composed as a response to the rainforest fires in Tasmania, it might be classed as a piece for a five-string viola, as Su gets to sing. It has an odd sound, like pre-renaissance with contemporary elements, brought about by the unusual tuning technique.
Su says she can’t sing, but she can, and she sure can play. This is a story of hope, rejuvenation and musicality. It was a gorgeous way to end this entertaining psycho concert.
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