Stalin’s Piano

Treasury Brisbane Arcadia was alive with energy and rhythm and we soaked it all up as we enjoyed the wood fired pizza and champagne courtesy of Brisbane Festival vouchers. The free #CelebrateBrisbane River of Light show had hundreds of people in the precinct with their phones out turned towards the Brisbane River. All captivated by the water fountains dancing in the sky, the coloured lights, lasers and the indigenous voice telling the traditional story of the dreaming serpent. What a way to start the night before we headed to the Cremorne theatre for Stalin’s Piano.

Being awarded this opportunity to be a citizen reviewer as part of Brisbane Festival means that I have been gifted experiences like Stalin’s piano by composer Robert Davidson. He talks of the voice being like music, we create music every time we speak, every time we express ourselves and the more passionate we are about our message the more musical it sounds. Robert created Stalin’s Piano and it is a tapestry, a multi-media show featuring politicians, creatives, and thinkers of history in pictures, words, recorded voice, archival footage and the main thread that holds it all together – virtuoso Sonya Lifschitz potent on the piano.

This is a fast paced sold out show of 65 minutes. I had a hard time dividing my attention between Sonya and the screen. I didn’t want to miss out on the action on the screen, but, I was not going to miss out on watching the woman on the stage. The weave of the music and the multi-media on the screen was so refined and perfected that the music was the guide for some of the 19 musical portraits and then would fade into the background for others. I likened the show to flicking thorough social media where I get distracted by the screen, consciously needing to focus on the real life happening around me, talent, creativity, skill and hard work. But, the mind and eye gets distracted by the pretty flashing lights, the words and every now and then the messages on the screen will inspire. Frank Lloyd Wright talking about housing and architecture, Arthur Boyd in conversation about writing and painting, the genius Maria Yudina’s story, the images of concentration camps the talent, creativity of musicians, writers, artists having their freedom, their life, their beauty taken away from them, not only robbing them of life but the world of their gifts.

Stalin’s piano – I kept thinking of it as Sonya’s Piano, had me drawn to the creatives and the thinkers of history. Their message – make the art, get messy with the paint, write the words, and play the music. The creatives are culture, the creatives colour our world, and represent their countries with beauty. The art, the music, the words draw the crowds, opens minds, and has audiences thinking on a broader scale about life and humanity. Music, voice, and creativity is human, it is the rhythm of life.

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