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Canberra Today 22°/26° | Tuesday, February 27, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Mesmerising music with a message in film

The ACO performs River. Photo: Nic Walker

Music / River, Australian Chamber Orchestra and Screen Australia. Richard Tognetti, musical director. At Canberra Theatre, February 7. Reviewed by LEN POWER.

Filled to the rafters, the Canberra Theatre audience for River experienced an extraordinary concert of live music and film.

The film, written and directed by Jennifer Peedom, is a cinematic exploration of the way rivers have shaped our world. 

The breathtaking principal photography in the film by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Ben Knight, Sherpas Cinema, Renan Ozturk and Pete McBride has been fashioned by film editor Simon Njoo into a remarkable visual exploration of rivers around the world and the impact of man on them.

The distinctive voice of actor William Dafoe accompanied the journey with a commentary that was informative, warm and poetic.

The music score features a large number of works by a range of classical composers including Bach, Vivaldi, Ravel, Sibelius and Mahler as well as works by the contemporary composers Piers Burbrook De Vere, Jonny Greenwood and Radiohead.

There was also new, original music by Richard Tognetti and William Barton. Barton also performed on didgeridoo and provided vocals. Satu Vänskä also provided vocals as well as performing on violin.

The powerful combination of music and film produced a haunting, dream-like atmosphere. 

While a mesmerising experience, the film’s message was very clear. Showing the fragile beauty of untouched waterways as well as the damage that humans have inflicted in recent years, the film pleads for a major re-think in how we live with rivers the world over.

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