Man in tuxedo with white bow tie
Calendar, June 19, May 19, Music, Performing arts

Music: Romantic Rachmaninov & Symphonic Sorcery!

31 May & 1 Jun @ Perth Concert Hall ·
Presented by West Australian Symphony Orchestra ·

Seductive melodies and a little magic.

Prompted by his exile from Russia and composed as he grappled with history and faith, Rachmaninov’s gorgeous Second Symphony is a work bursting with seductive melodies of heart wrenching passion and beauty. Australian conductor Nicholas Carter, Principal  Conductor of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, returns to WASO with this romantic tour-de-force. The concert opens with Dukas’ famous work immortalised in Disney’s classic film Fantasia and Glazunov’s sweetly lyrical Violin Concerto, performed by the winner of the 2018 Singapore International Violin Competition, Sergei Dogadin.

More info
W: www.waso.com.au/concerts-tickets/whats-on/concert/Romantic-Rachmaninov-Symphonic-Sorcery
E: waso@waso.com.au

Pictured: Nicholas Carter – Romantic Rachmaninov & Symphonic Sorcery!

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Music, News, Performing arts

Baroque distinction

Review: Perth Symphonic Chorus, “Magnificent Bach” ⋅
Winthrop Hall, May 18 ⋅
Review by Leon Levy ⋅

On an unusually busy choral weekend the Perth Symphony Chorus was in competition with both Voyces and WASO Chorus as well as – perhaps on a less elevated level – the unfolding Federal election count. Those audience members who turned up in a jubilant or despondent frame of mind would have found spiritual sustenance to support either mood; with Bach, Vivaldi and Dr Margaret Pride and her forces we were in the best of hands.

Bach dominated, as suggested by the title of the concert “Magnificent Bach”; but if this was intended to establish his Magnificat in D major BWV 243 as the focus of the evening, it was something of a misnomer. As the opening work, it was hampered in the first instance by a chilly Winthrop Hall that was not filled to capacity and latecomers who ought to have been led unobtrusively to the vacant seats further back.

The performance was prefaced by a brief but helpful introduction given by Dr Pride, illustrated by the musicians. The hall acoustic was sympathetic to the orchestra but had the choir sounding unexpectedly subdued. By the fourth verse ‘Omnes Generationes’ however, the forces were coming into balance and ‘Sicut locatus est’ was marked by firm singing and full tone. Similarly the challenges of the closing ‘Gloria’, before it reaches its jubilant and joyous home run, were finely controlled. The commendable idea of drawing soloists from within the chorus was not wholly successful. What no doubt worked well in a rehearsal studio did not readily command the comparatively vast spaces of Winthrop Hall, although alto Claire Lane and bass Brett Peart were especially successful in getting into their vocal stride and giving pleasure in the process.

Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No 4 in G major BWV 1049 was given in tribute to Adrian Maydwell, musician and doctor, who during the week had tragically lost his life in an accident. A more eloquent salute than that provided by Bach, soloists Paul Wright (violin) and Emily Clements and Laura van Rijn on flute and the Perth Baroque Orchestra could hardly be imagined. The performance, perfectly judged and executed, featured glorious interplay between the soloists.

In terms of impact, it was Vivaldi’s Gloria that proved to be the choral highlight of the evening. This time the somewhat recessed choral sound cleared quickly to give way to wholly engaged and expressive singing. Claire Lane once again gave particular pleasure, while in ‘Domine Deus’, the extended solo part provided soprano Hyoshin Kang with an opportunity to settle into her role and perhaps be inspired by the exquisite oboe playing of Anna Rodger. In ‘Quoniam tu solus Sanctus’ the choir matched the vibrant orchestral opening, while in the concluding ‘Cum Sancto Spiritu’ the energy and clarity of the choral lines supported by Jenny Coleman’s clarion trumpet, brought the work to a stirring conclusion.

Dr Pride brings distinction to whatever she and her collaborators tackle. On this occasion Wright and the Perth Baroque Orchestra provided a golden thread throughout the evening which was as much their achievement as anyone else’s.

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Black and White sketch of man with name of play
Calendar, May 19, Performing arts, Theatre

Theatre: The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui

21 May – 25 May @ Hayman Theatre ·
Presented by Hayman Theatre Company ·

Meet Arturo. Gangster? Businessman? Politician? Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. He’s a song and dance man, as in he’ll sing you a song while he twerks on your grave. “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui”, Brecht’s parable play about the rise of Hitler, explodes onto the stage in a pop culture frenzy of violenceand lip synching. Welcome to Brecht for a meme generation! Resistance is futile. Or is it? #faketheatre

More info
W: haymantheatre.curtin.edu.au/productions/resistible-rise-arturo-ui/
E:  haymantheatre@curtin.edu.au

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Woman dressed in fairy tale costume
August 19, Calendar, Children, Performing arts, Theatre

Theatre: Children: Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts

13 – 16 August @ The State Theatre Centre of Western Australia ·
Presented by Shake & Stir ·

Think you know the stories of The Three Little Pigs, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Goldilocks and Jack and the Beanstalk? Think again! Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts bursts off the page in a spectacular live show, taking the world’s best-­loved fairy tales and rearranging them with some surprising and hilarious twists.

Seriously funny and frighteningly silly, Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts is the perfect family entertainment especially for children 5 to 25, that’s sure to delight and disgust in equal measure.

Making their 3rd visit to Perth the multi Helpmann Award winning team at shake & stir have adapted the works of Roald Dahl to fit a 55 mins format which will have the kids and adults squirming with delight!

Tuesday 13 August at 10am, 1pm & 6pm
Wednesday 14 August  at 10am, 1pm & 6:30pm
Thursday 15 August at 10am & 6:30pm
Friday 16 August at 10am, 4:30pm & 6:30pm

More info:
www.ptt.wa.gov.au/venues/state-theatre-centre-of-wa/whats-on/roald-dahl-s-revolting-rhymes-dirty-beasts/

 

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Male Singer
August 19, Calendar, Music, Performing arts

Music: Love Him Madly: The Doors Reimagined

2 August @ His Majesty’s Theatre ·
Presented by Perth Symphony Orchestra ·

“Is everybody in? The ceremony is about to begin…”
The Doors: one of the highest selling rock bands of all time. Jim Morrison: An American Poet. Controversial counterculture giants, together they changed music forever.

Taking their name from Aldous Huxley’s mescaline-infused book The Doors of Perception, from 1967 they released eight albums in five years to become as important and influential as greats of the era such as The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Janis Joplin and The Rolling Stones.

Perth Symphony Orchestra invites you to a very special concert set to capture the very essence of Morrison and The Doors at the height of their powers, in full psychedelic glory via the trippiest orchestral show you will ever see. Witness as strings, woodwind, horns, percussion – an entire orchestra – set His Majesty’s Theatre on fire, for one night only on Friday, August 2.

More info
W: www.perthsymphony.com/pso_event/love-him-madly-the-doors-reimagined/
E:  info@perthsymphony.com

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A woman (Katherine Gurr) tries to hold back two men (Ian Wilkes and Andrew Searle)
Dance, News, Performing arts, Reviews

A richly layered work

Review: Co3 Australia, The Line ·
Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre of WA, 16 May ·
Review by Nina Levy ·

At the heart of Co3 Australia’s latest contemporary dance work, The Line, is a story of racial segregation.

This story may be unfamiliar to many West Australians, but it’s part of our not-so-distant past. Between 1927 and 1954, there was a law in place that banned Aboriginal people from entering the City of Perth’s boundaries after 6pm, unless they could prove that they were in “lawful employment”. The work’s title refers to the boundary lines of what was known as the Prohibited Area.

It’s a tough topic to tackle, particularly through the non-verbal medium of dance. Nonetheless, The Line’s directors – Co3 Artistic Director Raewyn Hill and Artistic Associate Mark Howett – have created a work that resists the temptation of a simple plot. Though interspersed with narrative elements, it is up to the audience to draw the threads together.

What we do see is an Aboriginal man (Noongar dancer Ian Wilkes) and a white woman (Katherine Gurr), who appear to be a couple. They are repeatedly pursued, interrogated and attacked by a man – some kind of policing officer – played by Andrew Searle.

The design elements of the work are immediately striking. As the curtain rises we see seven swings hanging from the fly loft, suspended by long chains that slice the space. A narrow tube of light crosses the darkened back of the stage, intersecting the vertical lines of the swings. Perched high above the dancers, it appears stationary… but time will reveal otherwise. In the dim, hazy light, the atmosphere is eerie as two dancers (Wilkes and Gurr) make lazy, sweeping arcs, on symmetrically placed swings. The peace is broken as the official-type man shouts loudly “YOU!” and mayhem ensues.

A man hold his hand like a gun to another man's jaw.
Constant tension: Ian Wilkes and Andrew Searle. Photo: Daniel Carson

From here the choreography oscillates between anguish and slapstick. Though the conflict is primarily between the Aboriginal and the white man, all three characters seem to be constantly wrestling with one another, and with themselves. The tension rarely lets up, and though this is, no doubt, intentional, it’s exhausting to watch. An exception is a gorgeously soft solo that blends Auslan signs with gestures from traditional Aboriginal dance (beautifully danced by Wilkes), followed by the soothing to-and-fro of the three dancers swinging, bathed in pyramids of light.

It can’t last though and soon we’re plunged back into the cartoon-like violence that punctuates the work. Though horrifying to watch, these repeating scenes of slow-motion violence are fascinating for the skill of both choreography and execution.

Throughout the work, Eden Mulholland’s score is, quite simply, fabulous. Played live in the main, the layers of sound range from long and eerie notes interspersed with storms of recorded voiceovers and ominous rumblings, to a rollicking, romping, 1930s jazz vibe. With James Crabb on classical accordion and Mulholland on a startling array of instruments (various guitars, piano, synthesizer, vocals, percussion), the music is a glorious performance in itself.

The design elements of this work are exceptional too, and with such a rich visual and musical backdrop, a cast of three – the number dictated, presumably, by budget limitations – seems too small, especially in relation to the scope of the issues that the work is tackling. It seems odd, too, to have only one Aboriginal performer, given the work’s context.

That said, the three dancers gave compelling performances on opening night, displaying admirable physical and emotional stamina. Though the duo and trio work was impressive, it was in their solo moments that each dancer shone brightest, Searle slicing and dicing, Gurr arching and melting, and Wilkes gently gesturing.

The repetitive structure of this work, in combination with the near-constant tension, feels unrelenting and – ultimately – unresolved. Though these artistic choices are effective, in terms of representing the discrimination that Aboriginal people have suffered and continue to suffer, personally, I found myself longing for relief.

But perhaps that was the point. Around me, audience members rose to their feet to applaud.

The Line plays until May 19.

Read an interview with directors Raewyn Hill and Mark Howett.

Pictured top are Ian Wilkes, Katherine Gurr and Andrew Searle in “The Line”. Photo: Daniel Carson.

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A scene from Water, featuring Glenda Linscott. Amy Mathews. Emily Rose Brennan. Richard Maganga
News, Performing arts, Reviews, Theatre

The perils of polemic

Review: Black Swan State Theatre Company, Water ·
Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of WA ·
Review by Varnya Bromilow ·

As we all come to grips with the most pressing issue of our age – humanity’s impact on our planet – it’s only fitting that this theme makes its way onto our stages. As is often the case, theatre is miles ahead of cinema or TV in grappling with this topic – it’s hard to make art that reflects our growing concern, while not straying too far into the boredom of strident polemic. So far, at least, it’s been left to theatre to press the case.

With Water, Melbourne-based playwright Jane Bodie has created a work for Black Swan State Theatre Company that is as ambitious as it is broad-ranging. Set in three different time periods and places, the play examines two of Australia’s thorniest political challenges – climate politics and refugees.

The first and strongest act is set on Molloy Island off WA’s Southwest in the not too distant future. Water has become scarce, birds have all but died out and food rationing is in place. We meet Peter (Igor Sas), a disgraced politician, recently forced to resign over his handling of refugee policy; his wife, Beth (Glenda Linscott) and the couple’s daughters Gemma (Amy Mathews) and Joey (Emily Rose Brennan). Gemma, a corporate lawyer, and Joey, a hippy traveller, have returned to the family’s holiday home to celebrate Peter’s birthday. Joey has been travelling for years and, as with all prodigal offspring, her return is cause for joy, dampened slightly by the fact that she has invited along a friend (and African immigrant), Yize (Richard Maganga).

A scene from 'Water', set in a holiday home on Molloy Island.
An undercurrent of tension: Igor Sas (Peter), Glenda Linscott (Beth) and Amy Mathews(Gemma) in the first act of ‘Water’. Photo: Daniel J Grant.

Bodie begins slowly, casting out small measures of narrative and context that makes the play an enjoyable tease for half of the first act. Why exactly did Peter leave politics? Why is Beth so on edge? Why does Gemma seem so irritated? What are Joey’s motives in inviting Yize? Director Emily McLean paces the show beautifully, creating an undercurrent of tension that is bound to explode. She is aided in this effort by a gorgeous soundscape and score from Clint Bracknell. Beginning with the clatter of parrots, an echo of a more bountiful time, Water is notable for its aural sparseness. We feel the absence of the birds, just as we feel the absence of water. The silence at the show’s beginning builds via stilted conversation, elongated pauses, until finally – with a remarkable soliloquy from Yize – the dam bursts. Maganga’s performance here was so impassioned, so utterly authentic, that it was followed by spontaneous applause from the packed house.

But, despite the talent of the actors, Water is a deeply flawed work. For a contemporary piece written by a female playwright, the raft of characters is alarmingly cliched. We have the absent poli dad; the long-suffering, needy wife; the wild, irresponsible daughter and the corporate careerist. I understand the seduction of writing about characters we are familiar with – there’s little an audience enjoys more than seeing itself reflected onstage – but for a new work, these roles seemed all too predictable. Of course the roguish daughter is there to cause trouble! Of course the corporate careerist is secretly unhappy! In writing such broad caricatures, Bodie underestimates the capacity of her audience to comprehend something more nuanced.

A scene from 'Water'. A nurse examines a patient's throat.
Bodie takes the audience to Ellis Island in 1921. Pictured are Amy Mathews and Glenda-Linscott. Photo: Daniel J Grant.

By the end of the first act though, we are engaged. We know these people, we care about them. Minor irritations like the distraction of Gemma’s resignation can be overlooked in favour of the over-riding pull of any good story – what happens next? But, in an ill-advised attempt to underscore the injustice of Australia’s refugee policy, the next act deprives us of this satisfaction. Instead, Bodie takes us to Ellis Island in 1921 where an elderly white Australian couple is attempting to emigrate to the United States. By drawing an apt but facile comparison with immigration systems elsewhere, Bodie again underestimates her audience. Her point was already made with stirring eloquence through the vessel of Yize – the clunky comparison doesn’t make the point stronger, it weakens it.

Similarly, when we are then transported to Queensland in 1905 in a brief reference to the slave trade that supplied the labour for Australia’s cane plantations, I had no idea where we were or why. Compounding the confusion is Bodie’s decision to use similar names for the characters in each setting. But what happened to the people on Molloy Island? When, finally, the playwright brings us briefly back to the characters of the first act, we are left without any meaningful resolution.

By divorcing us from the characters of the first act, Bodie sacrifices audience enjoyment to belabour her point – our climate policies are failing; our refugee policies are inhumane; we are not learning from history. As someone who agrees wholeheartedly with Bodie’s politics, it pains me to see this sort of didacticism onstage. Making theatre with a political message is extremely difficult; making theatre with a political message while avoiding the perils of polemic is even harder.

Water plays until May 26.

Pictured top are (L-R): Glenda Linscott (Beth), Amy Mathews (Gemma), Emily Rose Brennan (Joey) and Richard Maganga (Yize). Photo: Daniel J Grant.

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Features, Music, News, Performing arts

WA Day celebration

Alessandro Pittorino has been exploring the organ since he was a child, literally inside and out. The West Australian organist has recently returned from New York’s Juilliard School and will be performing at Government House Ballroom’s WA Day Gala Concert. Pittorino’s charismatic performing style will be on display alongside tenor Paul O’Neill, soprano Naomi Johns and drag queen Cougar Morrison in a celebration of Western Australia’s diversity, humour and culture.

Editor Rosalind Appleby caught up with the 25 year old organ sensation to find out more about his fascination with the instrument.

Rosalind Appleby: What first inspired you to play the organ?

Alessandro Pittorino: When I was around 5 years old, I saw someone playing quite a large pipe organ in Fremantle and I was completely fixated on it. My mum use to like to go into the church on a Sunday afternoon for quiet and peaceful reflection, away from the crowds. Around the same time the movie Harry Potter had just been released. With the organist seated on ground level, but the sound coming from all around the building, and so many different sounds – I honestly thought it was magic. I had found my Hogwarts letter! I was then granted access to this instrument and continued to explore it by myself – the ultimate musical instrument for any child who loves to explore!

RA: The pipe organ has evolved since the 3rd century BC into one of the most complex man-made devices. Why do you think humanity has been so interested in music made from blowing wind through pipes?

AP: There’s a certain human element to this otherwise machine of an instrument. This idea of a living and breathing instrument, just like we as humans breathe, gives the organ this humanizing element. But it immediately transcends that as the organ works with the infinite – as long as you hold the note, only then will it continue to sound. It is interesting to add that the organ I be will playing is called the ‘Infinity’. The sheer amount of musical possibilities that can be achieved with facility has fascinated and continues to fascinate musicians, builders, and audiences alike. Although the organ looks like a beast of an instrument, it is actually incredibly intimate and is capable of producing many different types of sounds, depending on what the score may require. Whether it is J. S. Bach’s monumental Passacaglia in C minor or John Williams’ iconic Star Wars suite, the organ, at its best, gives its player the ability to express themselves with the amount of power and flexibility usually only afforded to an orchestra. There is something special about doing that and witnessing it.

RA: Pipe organ repertoire spans over 500 years. What is your favourite period of organ music?

AP: That would be like trying to choose your favourite child. I love listening and performing all sorts of different music for all sorts of different reasons. There is no one size that fits all. The beauty about the arts is that it has power to be a true reflection of who we are and rarely will that ever be a black and white image. Our world is filled with so much colour and there are as many emotions as there are colours in the world. There exists all sorts of music to convey and express that, and that’s why I can’t choose just one.


RA: Where do you hail from originally (you have a rather exotic name!)?

AP: I was born and raised right here in Perth! I attended East Fremantle Primary School, then both Christian Brothers College Fremantle and Trinity College East Perth! I have both Italian and Greek heritage, but I am a proud Australian.

RA: You’ve studied at the University of WA and have recently returned from three years at The Juilliard School. Where do you hope to take your career now?

AP: I am so incredibly blessed to be living and working as a performing artist. My work takes me all over the world, and affords me the opportunity to work with so many different people, both in the performing arts and outside.

RA: What do you love most about what you do?

AP: I love being able to share what I do with people – and I love meeting and being around people as a result. Like with any career, being a musician is a full time job requiring precise training, development and performance on an almost daily basis.

RA: You bring a lot of flair to your performances. What do you hope people will experience at the WA Day concert?

AP: I hope my audience is able to relax and have some fun! This is meant to be a celebration of who we are as West Australians! I think we deserve to be a little more proud of our not-so-little state and celebrate the amazing people we have here. If we support one another, and celebrate the best of who we are, there is no reason why Perth and WA cannot be the best in the world. In so many ways, it already is.

RA: Anything else we should know about the WA Day Gala?

This is the first major performance featuring an organ in the Government House Ballroom, and I’m so grateful to be sponsored by Principal Organs of Roland Australia who is providing a brand new Rodgers Digital organ direct from America. Perth audiences haven’t had the chance to experience an instrument like this before as this type of instrument just doesn’t exist here. Although it is not a pipe organ, it is a digital replication of what it would be like to have the real thing in the Ballroom. It comes pretty close! I’m also proud to say it is the first time a drag queen has featured at the Government House Ballroom. Cougar Morrison is a stunning performer; we both studied and worked in NYC, albeit at different times. She brings an international performance extravaganza with a local feel and flavor to the show. I’m so excited to be working with her! This will be one of the most diverse concerts on the calendar so far – and of all the many performances that I do, this is the one that I’m most excited about!

The WA Day Gala Concert is at the Government House Ballroom on June 2.

Picture top: Alessandro Pittorino

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2 contemporary dancers on stage
Calendar, Dance, June 19, May 19, Performing arts

Dance: precipice

29 May – 1 Jun @ Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of WA ·
Presented by State Theatre Centre of WA and Rachel Arianne Ogle ·

Inspired by tectonic shifts, gravitational torsion and states of emotional rupture, ‘precipice’ is a dance of abandon and precarious control. Australian choreographer Rachel Arianne Ogle wields her technical and extremely physical style to draw immense unseen forces in the bodies of four dancers.

Ogle has assembled leading performance designers to create a multi-sensory experience where choreography unfolds within an electrifying light and sound installation. Contrasting precision and strength with mounting tension and fragility, this is a bold and unique work of contemporary dance from one of Australia’s rising choreographic artists.

precipice returns to the State Theatre Centre of WA after premiering here in August 2014 to critical acclaim. It was subsequently nominated for a Helpmann Award for ‘Best Dance Work’ and an Australian Dance Award for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Independent Dance’ in 2015.

“precipice began its life as an exploration of various physical states in opposition. It very quickly grew to take on a voice and direction of its own, to transcend my initial points of departure and delve into territory encompassing grander concepts of the universe. The infinite space in which we exist and to which we are intimately interconnected, and the invisible forces that are constantly at play within this, are beyond the realm of my conception. Through considering our place in this immense system, we unveil a profound vulnerability and fragility that is both ephemeral and enigmatic.” – Rachel Arianne Ogle

“A knockout production… Rapid high-tech triggers transport us into an expansive universe through light, sound and dance… a ticket to another dimension” – The West Australian

“An intriguing visual feast… the resultant whole assaulting the senses and stirring emotions.” – Artshub

Choreography by Rachel Arianne Ogle
Performance by Tyrone Robinson, Niharika Senapati, Yilin Kong, Imanuel Dado
Visual Design by Benjamin Cisterne
Sound Composition by Luke Smiles / motion laboratories
Costume Design by Colleen Sutherland
Produced by Sam Fox

More info:
www.ptt.wa.gov.au/venues/state-theatre-centre-of-wa/whats-on/precipice/

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2 men and 2 women sitting on high stools
Calendar, May 19, Music, Performing arts

Music: Walkman Antiquarian

27 May @ Callaway Auditorium, University of WA ·
Presented by TURA and UWA Conservatorium of Music ·

Intercurrent perform contemporary chamber music for piano, percussion, bass clarinet and electronics in Walkman Antiquarian. The program includes renowned works by Thomas Meadowcroft and John Cage, and a newly commissioned world premiere work by Perth composer Olivia Davies. Olivia’s work Intimate Distance for bass clarinet, marimba, piano and tape is inspired by a recording in her personal library of collected sounds.

“A small sample of this recording was immediately evocative of entirely different
soundworlds and I could hear the potential for a piece. I pushed the sample from
a very high to a very low range, and this became the arc of the piece. As it descends, the character of the music shifts, hinting at familiar soundworlds. That’s where I have this idea of intimate distance—a kind of state of familiarity and detachment. It’s also a bit like listening to electroacoustic music, where we are detached from the source of the sound and are completely immersed in a particular space of listening. I’ve used the live instruments in a way to try and enhance the tape, and create a listening experience that I hope is immersive,” Olivia said.

Intercurrent is Lachlan Skipworth (composer and conductor), Louise Devenish (percussion),Ashley Smith (Bass Clarinet) and Emily Green-Armytage (Piano) with guest artist Jackson Vickery (Percussion). Intercurrent is currently Artist-in-Residence at UWA Conservatorium of Music.

More info
W: www.tura.com.au/tura-program/walkman-antiquarian/
E:  info@tura.com.au

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