Yothu Yindi and The Treaty Project supported by Yirrmal.

We arrived early at the Tivoli, picked up the tickets from the box office – general admission standing. The small space has a beautiful art deco old world feel, in the lighting, mirrors and elegantly crafted bar. We took our place at the front of the intimate flat area in front of the stage – I wanted a good view of Yothu Yindi (Yolngu for “child and mother”) the band that has won eight ARIA awards and in 2012 was inducted into the ARIA hall of fame.

The acknowledgment of country and the minutes silence for ancestors was the foundation of the show. Yirrmal a sensitive, open hearted man from North-East Arnhem Land,  supported Yothu Yindi and The Treaty Project,  a songwriter and guitarist treated us to his classic songs and also his new work that will be released next year. That man, he has a striking voice, a voice that produces ground shaking vocals that express his own very personal experiences and stories through his songs.  Then came the highlight, Yothu Yindi and The Treaty Project, some of the classics they played were: World Turning, Timeless Land, Mabo and of course Treaty.

All day, I was excited to see a band at The Tivoli, enjoy some music, and have a champagne.  I was thrilled that I had been gifted these tickets as part of the Brisbane Festival. What I didn’t expect to feel at a concert on a Sunday night in Fortitude Valley was such a strong mystical experience. The unrestrained but sensitive, determined, beautiful performance that connected to every level of energy within me. The whining high pitch of some voices in language, the vast grounding echoes that seemed to shake from the earth through their bodies into the songs. The deep vibration of the didgeridoo, the rhythmic blow of the clapping sticks. Then there was the contemporary electric guitar, piano and saxophone complemented the traditional sounds in the new work that has been created. The beat, words, and movement went for two and a half hours, the crowd swelled at 8.45pm when Yothu Yindi and The Treaty Project came out to entertain. I stood with an unobstructed view of the stage with my husband at my back and the rest of the crowd moving and dancing along with the flow of the music, the stomping of feet and the music made the floor pulsate, I was totally caught up in the palpitation, moving with the beat and the ancient sounds reaching all the way into my heart.

I drove the hour home thrumming with energy, but also teary and tired like I had emerged from a deep meditation. The sounds and energy had moved something within me. The power of the words in the songs, the indigenous sounds, and the energy that was brewed in the venue was incredible.

Symphony for me

When we arrived the Arcadia was overflowing with families, enjoying family day at Brisbane Festival. We however, were on date night. We came into the city early to enjoy the vibe of Brisbane Festival, it took a while but we snagged a high table after stalking the previous occupants and enjoyed a beer, champagne and gyozas and the view of Brisbane. We headed to Divine and had some fun photos with the angel wings on the wall. Then I was drawn to the water again where, my husband had to drag me away from the river of light show to head to the Concert Hall at QPAC for Symphony for Me.

We headed to our fourth row seats for our first orchestra. What an interesting concept created by David Berthold and the Brisbane Festival team in 2015, to combine Brisbane’s public and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and arrange them both into one free show. To share personal experiences and how the selected piece of music has made up a snippet of the soundtrack of their life and in what way the pieces of music means to them in their memories, and what an honour to hear it in the concert hall played by some of the world’s best. Some of the stories were of romance, of fear and intimidation in their birth country, of visiting a liberated country, of remembering childhood memories with a parent that has passed. Pieces of music that young musicians have ambition to one day play.

I sat in my seat with my husband next to me and while the stories of others was lovely to hear it is my own memories that will stay with me. The conductor is a fun memory of the night. With each story and with each person he met on his stage he was generous and seemed genuinely filled with joy to present the music to them, he was entertaining to watch with the orchestra, and with his interaction with the audience. Of course the movie themes bought back memories of watching them with my movie buff of a husband. Hedwig’s Theme, Main theme Pirates of the Caribbean: The curse of the black pearl, Main Theme Forrest Gump and Main theme Star wars. What I, will remember of the music, is a romantic night with my husband. Sitting in those chairs together holding hands and appreciating such talent and skill, I was in awe and grateful to watch ultimate professionals in their field create such beauty, memories and emotion, to the point that I had to bring out the tissues.

While the people that chose the music had memories tied to the piece of music, I kept wondering if the conductor Brett Kelly and the orchestra, felt something similar. Knowing that the music they perform and the beauty of it stays with their audience, I wondered if they ever appreciate their own work.  I found the whole experience fascinating.

Thank you again Brisbane Festival and Aruga for the opportunity.

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.