Thursday, 30 January 2020

Homophonic! - Music Review

What: Homophonic!
When: 30 January - 1 February 2020
Where: La Mama Courthouse
Directed by: Miranda Hill
Compositions by: Stephen de Filippo, Naima Fine Fine, Christina Green, Wally Gunn, Laura Kaminsky, Pauline Oliveros, Cole Porter, and Sean Shepherd
Texts by: Candy Royalle and Maria Zajkowski
Performed by: Spencer Chapman, Natasha Conrau, Laila Engle, Jenny George, Pheobe Green, Karen Heath, Robin Henry, Miranda Hill, Stephen Hodgson, Eleanor Jackson, Zachary Johnston, Lachlan McDonald, Katherine Norman, Ben Opie, Robin Parkin, Katherine Philp, Dan Richardson, Alex Ritter, Thea Rossen, and Leonie Thomson
Lighting by: Joy Lee
Sound by: Alice Bennett and Joy Lee
Stage managed by: Alice Bennett
Laila Engle and Katherine Philp
On a hot summer night in Melbourne one of the best things you can do is head down to the air conditioned La Mama Courthouse and experience the amazing music which comprises Homophonic! 2020. A fun and fiesty collection of original music performed by some of Melbourne's best musicians and The Consort of Melbourne, Homophonic! will take you to places you never even knew you wanted to go.

The term classical music is a tricky one because it can connote music from the Classical Period which makes us think of old and outdated styles and impulses. The term is used in a much broader modality these days though, which is why it is still possible to play and compose classical music and yet still be completely modern and with the times.

In its broadest definition classical music refers to notation, orchestration, and instrumentation. Classical music uses formal music notation in the form of bars and staffs, etc. It is music which is very complex in regard to time signatures, multiple instrumentation, and movements. It is also music which is played with - but not always comprising completely of - ancient instruments such as violins, flutes, clarinets, drums, etc.

As well as celebrating LGBTQIA+ musical composition, performance, and history, Miranda Hill has curated a wonderful program of music which celebrates...music itself. Homophonic! allows the audience to join in this journey of beauty, discovery, and fun in a relaxed and joyous atmosphere.

As we entered the theatre, the afternoon was settling into the mellow lighting which is the start of dusk and the evening's program appropriately began with Kaminsky's 'Twilight Settings' and 'Evening Song'. The music includes the swelling of soprano vocals as the day dies but gives rise to new activity as the creatures of the night rouse and celebrate the rising of the moon.

Christina Green composed music to one of the late Candy Royalle's poems which now appear in the posthumously published book of her work, A Trillion Tiny Awakenings. Royalle regularly accompanied her work to music and Green's homage to accompany the poem
'Edge Sky Itself' is a beautiful and moving work.

Recognising the history of the land on which the performance is taking place, Homophonic! includes a beautiful duet for cello and base clarinet composed by local composer Naima Fine Fine. 'Stonemaker' is a beautiful, meditative work and 6 lucky audience members are invited to stage to rest their heads between the instruments and experience a sound bath. Sound is vibrations in space and I can only imagine how glorious it must feel to have those lovely long low end sound waves massage the ears and the brain in that way! And who knew a base clarinet could mimic the sounds of a digeridoo??!

Hill is aware of the importance of creating community through inclusion and participation, and she invites everybody who wants to, to come on stage and participate in Oliveros' 'Tuning Meditation'. Don't be afraid. It is not about singing. It is about listening to each other and to the self. Closing your eyes and following your body's vocal instincts is amazingly refreshing. Do give it a try.

Act 2 is a marvelous journey into the comic. Stephen de Filippo's 'Star Picc' is the best scifi flick you will never see! Travel on a journey through an amplified piccolo, a base drum, and range of the craziest sound FX with Laila Engle. I loved it and couldn't stop laughing as well as being overawed by the craft in composition and performance. Homophonic! is touring all 5 state Pride festivals this year, and although the rest of the program is different, 'Star Picc' will feature in all of them. Why wouldn't you?

The program moves into the more traditional arena again before ending with some classic Cole Porter in a hilarious arrangement which includes the entire ensemble. As brilliant as the entire thing is, the show is stolen in one single line by Eleanor Jackson. It brought the house down!

Tonight's show is sold out but there are still a few tickets left for the two shows on Saturday. And remember, the matinee is a relaxed performance so everyone can enjoy the magic of Homophonic!

5 Stars

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