Review: The Prophet

The Prophet AFCPresented by Adelaide Festival Centre
Reviewed Thursday 4th April 2013

The Song Company, and oud player, Joseph Tawadros, draws on the best known work by Lebanese poet, philosopher, and artist, Kahlil Gibran (Jubran Khalil Jubran or جبران خليل جبران January 6, 1883 – April 10, 1931), to create a remarkable concert that is being performed in Adelaide for two nights only.

First published in 1923, The Prophet contains twenty-six sections, poetic essays dealing with a range of topics: love, marriage, children, giving, eating and drinking, work, joy and sorrow, houses, clothes, buying and selling, crime and punishment, laws, freedom, reason and passion, pain, self-knowledge, teaching, friendship, talking, time, good and evil, prayer, pleasure, beauty, religion, and death.

Joseph Tawadros initially wrote music for the oud, and this solo work was released in 2009. Now he joins with The Song Company to present a series of works, both new and very old, from Galicia, in Spain, all the way across to Russia. The newest pieces are by Tawadros.

The oud is a fretless type of lute that, in the hands of a master musician like Tawadros, is extremely expressive. It has six pairs of strings and is played with a plectrum but, having no frets, the left hand has the ability to add vibrato, or to slide between notes, as a violinist does. It blends beautifully with the human voice and suits both the music of the Middle East and that of the Middle Ages. Tawadros, whether soloing or playing with the singers, shows his great musicianship, whether commanding full attention, or acting as a seventh voice in some fine ensemble playing.

The six singers in this group, two sopranos, tenor, two baritones, and a bass, are led by their artistic director Roland Peelman, who also adds a drum beat to a number of the pieces to emphasise the complex rhythmic patterns. They achieve a remarkable clarity, where each individual voice can be easily discerned within the ensemble vocal blend. The harmonies are clear and well defined, and the various tonalities, particularly the modal pieces, are thrilling. This is, indeed, a superb vocal group, with enormous versatility and a wide ranging repertoire. They embrace all of the styles within this concert with assured precision and make an emotional connection with the spirituality inherent in each piece.

This concert moved some of the audience to tears, such was the power of the source material and the exceptional performances, connecting with the audience and evoking strong emotional responses. There is a second performance on Friday evening, so rush to book for this truly wonderful performance.

Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide

Adelaide Festival Centre web site

The Song Company Facebook page

The Song Company web site

Venue: Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Road, Adelaide
Season: 7:30pm Friday 5th April 2013
Duration: 70min
Tickets: $22.50 to $48
Bookings: BASS 131 246, or here

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