Tag: original works

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: Tracy Harvey Smoking’ At The Paris Cat

A new musical in the works is turning up the heat…

By Kim Edwards

Tracy Harvey is a favourite and familiar lady of Australian comedy, but last night it was all about the music.

The intimate confines of the Paris Cat jazz club were bustling with local media and theatre folk as Harvey took to the stage to share some of her previous hilarious compositions and debut some of her latest music theatre songs.

The evening featured repertoire from her first show Call Girl the Musical that premiered in Melbourne in recent years, but also debuted new work from the upcoming and outrageously titled hospital musical Prick.

Harvey with her signature smile and ravishing dress was in exceptional company with Bryce Ives, Laura Burzacott, and the talented Jack Howard leading a superb jazz trio.

It’s a rare pleasure to see director Ives performing on stage himself, and his smooth showman charisma and Burzacott’s ever- stunning voice and understated wit formed a wonderful foil to Harvey’s irrepressible and frantic comic vivacity. Meanwhile, Jack Howard managed a little demure scene-stealing both on the trumpet and with his unexpected solo song ‘Like A Gondolier’.

Ives’ skill at creating atmosphere was in play as usual: the casual, relaxed vibe and unrehearsed patter were completely charming, and this rare sneak peak at a show in development was wonderfully beguiling.

The strength of the songs presented was in their casual Australian vernacular and broad vulgar humour, with plenty of topical and local jokes. Musically and lyrically, there is nothing particularly daring or sophisticated in any of the numbers, and every song seemed to include some extensive word or phrase repetition. However, these are of course works in progress, and the good-natured comedy and appealing energy always made each song highly enjoyable to hear and see performed.

Australia music theatre longs for original local works, and Harvey with her smokin’ hot companions and her flair for distinctly home-bred humour and fun song-writing deserves nothing but admiration and support.

It was exciting to be part of the inception of a new project, and it will be even more exciting to see it fire up into a fully fledged musical in the near future. So keep a look out for more about Harvey’s new show shortly – it’s not like you’re going to forget that title in a hurry.