Month: March 2013

Sydney Independent Opera Gala Concert

Sydney Independent Gala Concert

Last night, I had a splendid transient moment of high culture as the Sydney Independent Opera theatre performed a concert of famous pieces; duets, arias and orchestral delights. Conductor Steven Stanke treated us to the Gala opening of the North Sydney theatre’s 2013 season, by inviting guest singers, Randall Stewart, Regina Daniels, Maia Andrews and Geoff Knight, to present their favourite pieces to perform to us. Each being a professional opera singer in their own right, they performed notable pieces from Rossini, Mozart, Strauss and in celebrating his 200th birthday, Verdi.

The orchestra was a small ensemble of woodwind, strings and brass but the venue was so grand and acoustically sound, their harmonies sounded glorious, (as they should, mind. They were performing commendable composers). Although the venue was magnificent, the auditorium wasn’t as full as I expected it to be and to be homest, this was the only disappointment of the night as it meant that only a select few, (perhaps family supporters) had experienced this grand night as well as I.

Randall Stewart’s voice is deep and rustic. As part of Opera Australia, his fullbodied enthusiasm told us a story as he sang up through with eyebrows. He was a pleasure to listen to, with such control of the stage and his voice. He is also to be commended for stepping up to fill in for Regina’s pieces. Unfortunately, Regina Daniels felt under the weather, but with some quick reorganising, the audience was entertained with extra pieces by Randall. I also extend a handshake to the orchestra for performing beautiful pieces they had only seen that night with the change of program.

Regina Daniels, although a little ill, sang what she could and had we not been told she was unwell, we wouldn’t have noticed. She has a stunning stage presence and an air of professionality. Her storytelling is at the essence of the opera experience- while I had not surtitles to comprehend the Italian, German and French, I understood what she was singing through her gesture.

Both Regina and Maia have a glittering record of professional endeavours, having performed in places such as the Sydney Conservatiorium and St Mary’s Cathedral. Maia’s voice is effortless and sweet and I’d like to have listened to her all night. Beautiful control and a sublime soprano, Maia is a young artist to follow into the limelight.

Geoff Knight has a voice of unrestrained power. He sings calmly and you can see he’s waiting for the big notes and when they came, they were so grand, so powerful. A singer from New Zealand, Australia should be glad to have him as an addition to Sydney’s music scene.

After a night of classical beauty, we were treated to an encore from Les Mis, definately a crowd pleaser. I recommend viewing Opera at the Sydney Independent Opera Theatre, it was truly a fantastic night. For more information please visit-   http://www.sydneyindependentopera.com.au

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The Pillowman

The Pillowman

Last night, I walked into the New Theatre at Newtown to see The Pillowman with no expectations. This is not because I expected nothing, but more so because I read the blurb of this play and it mentioned a blurred reality between a writer’s fiction and some child murders. A promotional pamphlet told me it was a twisted psychological piece and with the playwright being Martin McDonagh, I didn’t suspect any less.
May I say, the play did not disappoint. It delivered exactly what the synopsis covers, and more. Only in this sense is the plot predictable. There’s a writer and he writes short stories, short murders. A series of killing have occured, in the manner of his short stories, so what’s happened?
There are so many dark twists and turns and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Afterwards, I thought to myself, two and a half hours of The Pillowman is a fair weight of psychological thrilling to stomach, but in hindsight, the play delved into each character’s back story and motive, so there were no stones left unturned. I also reflected that perhaps the tone of the play had too many deep monologues that seemed to be undercut by a snide comment of black humour and at the time I was worried I wouldn’t be given enough time to be able to sympathise with the characters in their moment of deep introspection. Again, hindsight worked wonders as I saw the power of the actors carry such a macabre topic with grace and sophistication- black humour and subtle social commentary are the only ways to hold an audience for that long on the topic of child-murders. Even Shakespeare knew the power, nay the necessity of comic relief. In that respect, I really admire the production team and actors for the delicate way in which they handled this play.
The was an overwhemling response of audience positivity and this was a testament to the power of storytelling, especially at interval when I sat and tried to figure out the direction of the play. When I figured it out, I was so excited, I had a moment of Wow and this realisation really shows how much, as an audience member, I had invested in this play and the fact that there this level of audience engagement means the production did something. If you opened yourself up to the limits of the stage, and allowed yourself to be swept along, the play was 3 hours of blissful oblivion. The use of sounding and stageplay were subtle and aided the play so perfectly, truly a professional job.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend all to see it before it ends on the 13th of April.
For more information, please visit http://www.newtheatre.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=132&Itemid=158

UNVEILED

Unveiled

The art exhibition Unveiled unveiled it’s wares on the 17th of March at Wallarobba Arts and Cultural Centre in Hornsby. Showcasing the art works from four talented local artists, Catherine Brown, Therese Wilkins, Vladimir Pavlovic and Eva Molnar, Unveiled displays an exhibition full of introspection, exploration and passion. Vladimir Pavlovic’s photography was very interesting indeed, as an extreme close-up study of the microworld; of feathers, seedpods, bird’s nests and lotus flowers. He seems to capture and magnify beauty with effortless wonder and focus. Adding to the diverse collection are pieces of printwork and scultpure by Eva Molnar- a truly professional array of modern art. A theme present in her work delved into interesting recollections of her childhood in Hungary, the expression of her art undertook a childlike naivety in stroke and style, while her approach was of the utmost professional quality. Miniature printmaking, reflections of nature and collage were among the rest of the collection,  and they really identifed the stages of the process of each art medium with creative innovation and precision.

Wallarobba is a new addition to the Arts and Cultural precinct in Hornsby Shire and is a wonderfully apt venue for an art exhibiton of this ilk and size. As an old heritage house, the venue has been refurbished for public access and council use and is very conveniently located next to a family friendly park- a short stroll from Westfield Hornsby.
Unveiled is open from Wednesdays to Sundays from 10am-5pm until the 24th of March and is really worth  viewing.

For more informations, please visit- http://www.artnewsportal.com.au/art-news/unveiled

Fender Roadshow

Fender Roadshow

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I’m no connoisseur of fine guitar skills and I couldn’t tell you what a humbuca is but I do respect the craftsmanship of each beauty, I admire the talent and dexterity of the musicians and I marvel at the sound each beast can make, when it was carved from a mere block of Rosewood or Black Ash.

When the Fender Roadshow hit Sydney’s Oxford Art Factory, I wasn’t sure what to think, but I thought it would be an educational experience, if any. I wasn’t sure if it was a gig, an advertisement for Fender or a concert. In fact, I can safely say, it was a hybrid experience of all three. First and foremost, it was a gig promoting the Fender products, a showcase, if you will, of the best of the best and the most recent Fender releases and collections.

Although it’s purpose was in advertising, the men had so much knowledge, passion and humour, it was a pleasure to watch. Guest star Greg Koch was supported by James Ryan with Marcel Yammouni on bass and Haydn Meggitt on drums. The atmosphere was very intimate, personal and informal, and I must admit, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The night definitely exceeded my hopes and expectations. Oxford Art Factory did not disappoint as a venue.

On a side note, I’m not really a hard rock fan, I try to stay away from Pink Floyd and INXS, and I quickly realised that the majority of Fender products were at the disposal of the aforementioned bands. However, it is a testament to the Roadshow that while they demonstrated the value of these guitars in their rock element with rock band homages, I loved them, because I was told the history behind the guitars, the background of each era and their technologies. They showcased period tunes using authentic remakes  from the Fender American Vintage Series. In this series, they have 12 guitars made with the utmost historical accuracy, from pick-ups, to the wood etc.

As Koch declared, each guitar sounds “delicious” in its own way and the secret to playing guitar like a rock god, is to play to the instrument, to flaunt the values and virtues of the beast itself. This imperative is especially seen when flirting with the American Vintage Series because back then the instruments weren’t made for comfort, they were made to dally with the magic of sound. The Fender Deluxe Series and Fender Custom Shop, however, are two collections which illustrate a traditional ‘look’ while employing modern technologies and ergonomics for sound perfection and player comfort. The point of these classic series is to reimagine an old hero, to cherry-pick their lineage, to create mutants akin to guitar gods, or so they say. They had dozens on guitars onstage from each collection and therefore remakes of guitars from each era, with some tweaks here and there which they explained. Essentially, they played the guitars, displayed the potential of each and then compared the sounds and genres of each both with and without amplifiers and sound enhancers. I was thoroughly impressed.

When they played, there was a blur of fingers and I honestly didn’t want to blink and miss the extraordinary finger-picking on both electric and acoustic from the main players, Koch and Ryan. Later, I decided to give up trying to comprehend their mastery, so I just sat back and let the guitar excellence wash over me, with Yammouni on Fender 6 Bass-guitar hybrid vibrating my very soul. These were musicians in their own rights yet had banded together for the third night in the Fender Roadshow for this common cause.  At the end of the night, the audience was allowed to feel, revel and faint at the alter of these Fender gods and this interactive dimension to the night really topped it off. Image