Review of Dunedin Youth Orchestra

Review Kronos Quartet at the Regent, 13 March2013

An large mixed audience of Dunedin’s music fraternity was privileged to hear the distinctive blend of interpretative and technical brilliance which the Kronos Quartet have at their finger tips. What a treat to hear live, music which accurately and successfully reflects the solidarities and dualities of today‘s world. The term Quartet does not accurately describe an ensemble which enjoys the luxury of digital amplified voices which taxed local sound systems but created an eclectic largesse which only an orchestra might emulate. A generous programme opened with nationalistic statements unsullied by the effects of war. It ended with the compelling pain of injured innocence in American Steve Reich’s WTC 9/11 and of innocence injured in “hold me neighbour, in this storm” by Serbian Aleksandra Vrebalov. While it would have been nice to have a similar statement regarding the pain of invasion in Syria, Omar Souleyman’s “Sidounak Sayyada” - a meld of classical Turkish, Kurdish hopeful celebration was infectious. Similarly Ram Narayan‘s “Raga Mishra Bhairavi: Alap” conjured India’s landscape, heat, extreme beauty and languor with heart-wrenching beauty. Nicole Lizée’s “Death to Kosmische” - a form of Eastern German pop music - journeyed through the composer‘s love-hate relationship with her native popular musics. With many inventive instruments at her beck and call, Lizée reminds the listener not to take themselves too seriously. Jack Body’s “Arum Manis” reflects his formative experiences in Indonesia and the desire perhaps to be heard as more than a New Zealander. Though the work is highly successful, its impact is lessened by the fact that the solo violin is performed by an unseen and uncredited Indonesian street vendor /musician. Valentin Silvestrov’s somber String Quartet No 3 (1937) was the oldest and longest work in the programme and failed to wholly capture audience attention. Two encores, the Celtic sounding “Thousand Thoughts” by Tusen Tankar, and the ’Death is the road to awe” from the film “Fountain” ended a truly memorable performance. Bravo! Marian Poole