Tag: Monash University

Review: ERIC WHITACRE In Concert

Utterly beguiling

By Jessica Cornish

Eric Whitacre, complete with a cheeky smile and armed with a ridiculous amount of charm enchanted his audience on Saturday night.

Eric Whitacre

The young American composer conducted numerous original works and more traditional orchestral and choral pieces, performed by the Choir of Trinity College and the Monash Sinfonia.

Before every piece commenced Eric explained with passion and humour the story and significance behind each song, giving his grateful audience a deeper insight into the music.

Stand-outs and crowd-favourites composed and conducted by this golden-haired boy were “Five Hebrew Love Songs” and “Animal Crackers“, as well as Bach’s beautiful “Come Sweet Death“, which saw Whitacre stand aside, letting the choir members sing at their own pace and creating an eerie and oddly intriguing piece.

“Five Hebrew Songs” was created fifteen years ago, inspired by his ‘hot Israeli girlfriend’ at the time. Whitacre explained he had asked her to create five short Hebrew poems on the backs of different post cards, and then set these beautiful lyrics to music. Fifteen years later the couple are still together, and very much in love. Clearly besotted by his wife he consistently blew kisses to her, and passionately dedicated numerous numbers to her.

“Animal Crackers” was a quirky musical anthology which had the audiences in stitches. It was a series of short original compositions based on various animal poems by Ogden Nash. Stories included the cow, the firefly, panda and appropriately the kangaroo- ‘that should be grateful it was not transmuted by a boomerang, otherwise it would be turned in to a morang.’ As Whitacre created these intriguing little bits of comedy, he related how he would consult with his five year-old son to check whether they were in fact funny or not.

Overall his show was a delight. The choir sang beautifully, and the orchestra were seamless. Watching Eric Whitacre conduct was mesmerizing: it was like watching some strange bird dance in the wild, with flowing hand gestures and occasional little stamps and backside twists. The beauty of Whitacre is that he was so engaging and passionate about his music that he was able to make the audience feel that same love and amazement that he does when experiencing it.

Eric Whitacre In Concert was performed on Saturday 13 April at Robert Blackwood Hall, Monash University

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REVIEW: Ranters Theatre Presents SONG

Contemplating nature – indoors

By Christine Moffat

Song seems to be about mimicking the natural, bringing the outdoors indoors, and by doing so, prompting us as an audience to examine our response to these elements.  This production is the creative collaborative result of Brazilian conceptual artist Laura Lima and UK musician James Tyson along with other Melbourne artists, and involves sitting or lying on pieces of synthetic grass, taking in perfumes designed to mimic natural scents, and admiring a lighting scheme inspired by the last hour before sunset. 

Photo by Sarah Walker

During this time, via various speakers placed around the space, songs by Tyson and ambient outdoor sounds designed by David Franzke are played.  This is all designed to immerse an audience, engage their senses and perhaps even to lull them.

Unfortunately, the combination of small synthetic grass mats and a very hard floor was not relaxing (for either lying or sitting); and made it difficult to give oneself over to the experience.  A scan of the room showed, in the majority, a physically uncomfortable audience shifting every two to three minutes in an attempt to find a better position.  This is the one key flaw in the production, as all the other elements offer a promising suggestion of relaxation and self-reflection.

It is a disappointment to this reviewer that this lack of physical comfort in the space does little to facilitate the intentions of Ranters Theatre in partnership with Monash University.  Artistically, every component of this show has clearly been constructed with much thought and creativity.  The lighting design by Stephen Hennessy in particular is exquisitely beautiful, and the perfumed air created by George Kara is lovely.  Sadly, the sum experience does not match the promising nature of each of its parts.

It is worth mentioning for logistical purposes alone, that the show is billed as a 7.30pm start, with a running time of 60 minutes.  Possibly due to it being opening night, the audience waited in the space for 20 minutes before the show started, and it had been running for 90 minutes when this reviewer left (along with about 2/3 of the audience).  At that point it seemed practically over, and staff had opened the exit doors, but there was no other indication that the show had in fact finished, and the soundscape of rain was still playing.

Venue: Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall 521 Queensberry St

Season: Sat 13 April – Sun 21 April 2013

Time: 7.30pm Tue – Fri, 2pm and 7.30pm Sat and 5pm Sun

Green Tix for Nix: 2pm Sat 13 April 2013

Tickets: $25 Full / $20 Conc / discount for 6+ groups

Bookings: artshouse.com.au or 03 9322 3713