Introducing contemporary classical pieces to a new audience can be a difficult task for any composer, but Zephyr Quartet’s risky collaboration with lighting designer Geoff Cobham is a clever masterpiece of music and light that provides the ultimate in sensory delight.
On opening night at Queens Theatre, Adelaide, Zephyr Quartet introduced five new works to an appreciative full house, who entered a world of amazement as we shifted from place to place within the venue. The promenade setup for this performance works brilliantly, as the acoustically sound walls of an old factory/warehouse were filled with a blend of history and modernity.
The Zephyr Quartet consisting of Belinda Gehlert (violin), Emily Tulloch (violin), Jason Thomas (viola) and Hilary Kleinig (cello) were simply divine in their delivery of all five pieces, and the combination of strings, gentle lighting and the aroma of lavender was as therapeutic as it was enchanting, for the entire performance it was easy to get completely lost in the experience. The audience was indeed part of the performance, which at times felt like being in an esoteric stage production with the most amazing backdrop.
The first piece, Lighter Fluid by Lyndon Gray, was spellbinding and evoked images of shadow puppetry, as the audience sat divided and opposite one another. This piece took us on emotional ebbs and flows, which ranged from calmness to suspense and drama, and then brought you back to a place of safety once again. Once the piece concluded, the audience was guided to the next location nearby for the next movement.
Songs in a Gentle Breeze by Tony Gould used foundations of numerous known folks songs, and was a journey into the dark and light psyche as justified in the attitude of the lighting.
In an amazing shift of mood, the next piece by Andrea Keller, L.D.D (Light Dark, Depth) was an ethereal, transfixing experience as we were blanketed in a purple blanket of warmth and security. The feeling was as if one were under the waves looking up, and the ingenious use of lighting for this piece transformed the beautiful piece into a semi-solid form that you could literally reach out and feel.
Another relocation to a new room, and Dirt- Hue/Value/Chroma (Bound) by Stephen Magnusson was a digression from the previous pieces in that this was more mischievous in its posture and use of Chiaroscuro, the contrasts between light and dark. Light reflecting from mirrors bore semblance to leadlight and was captivating as the Quartet worked their magic.
The final piece, The Light Within by Matt Keegan consisted of three separate movements that evoked, for myself anyway, being by a small pond at night, fireflies buzzing overhead and feeling close to nature. The audience sat in the round with the Quartet centre, and the piece combined with lighting created energy and as the composer intended, a mood of self-reflection. The finale of this piece was enlightenment and warmth, quite literally.
To be able to completely escape and become part of the performance is a testament to the boldness of this visual and sonic triumph.
I can’t recommend this unique, innovative work enough so please get to see it while you can. The level of talent both musically and technically that has gone into this production only confirms the amazing level of talent that Adelaide has to offer! Bravo!
Reviewed by Darren Hassan
What: Zephyr Quartet- Between Light
When: May 21-25 8 PM. (doors 7:30pm)
Where: Queens Theatre, Playhouse Lane Adelaide.*
Tickets: Between Light
*Strictly limited capacity – book early to avoid disappointment! All ages.
More info: zephyrquartet.com