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.

Rovers

 

Rovers is the first show in the seven that I will see for the citizen reviewer role that I have been gifted from Brisbane Festival and Aruga PR. I placed Rovers as one of the top picks on my wish list. As a woman and mother myself, I am fascinated with how our mothers and ancestors influence our lives. How we all hold the wisdom and knowledge in our DNA from our ancestors. How we have rooted in us the traits and lessons from stories of the women before us deep within our center. I wanted to see this show with my West End living friend that I share many great stories with, so, I traveled an hour south to Brisbane to pick up my plus one and take us for a night out.

The show started with a welcome to country, this always gets me in the heart, I was equally in love with the use of the traditional language spoken by Roxy / Jessie. The use of simple props meant that the focus was on the women on stage bouncing off each other’s energy and enjoying performing together after 21 years. The comedy came as side splitting relief to what could’ve been an intense and heavy piece of work. The voice over added a modern multi-media facet to the show.

Barbara and Roxy / Barbara and Jessie traveled, to the center of the country and heart. Rovers was about four women, played by two in one show. The layers of four women was intricately knitted together in a back and forth weave between reality, memories and stories. The tales of wild, tough women trekking the depths of their hearts and country, memories exaggerated or diminished by the retelling of the tale over time. Barbara and Roxy pulled from the heart of their knowledge, skills and friendship to take the audience seated in the intimate space of The Block at QUT’s Theatre Republic, on a funny, drama filled adventure exploring and reliving the important stories, memories and women that shaped them – Aunty Barbara and Grandma Jessie. At some stages in the hour long show, I was anxious that I had missed important parts of the back and forth story. However, writer Katherine Lyall-Watson and director Caroline Dunphy had that covered with one or both coming out of her character and clarifying the memory or the story and where the recollection or tale originated. The show ended on a fun note, we left with a smile on our face and wrote positive comments on the feedback form given as we exited.

Whenever my West End friend and I go to an art gallery we always pick our favorite art work. So what was my favorite part of Rovers. The intimacy of the setting and the language. I took away from it that, the work we do on ourselves emotionally, spiritually, and how we push ourselves out of our comfort zones and explore our hearts and country is what carries on in DNA. Our stories and memories will be recalled and carried on to future generations. So be the wild, adventurous, funny lady.