Audience members sat on beanbags reading their programs by phone light in the Hackett Ensemble’s latest concert. The semi-darkness was filtered by soft red and blue lighting and in the gaps between performances mellow DJ music filled the room. It was a calming way to begin the weekend and it the performers seemed relaxed too.
|The original "Dream House", New York|
Music students from the University of Western Australia had set up the Calloway Auditorium as a Dream House, named after the loft where La Monte Young and other New York artists perform music 24 hours a day. In the spirit of the Dream House the audience were invited to arrive and leave at their own discretion. Of course they didn’t, instead sitting politely throughout the duration which was easy to do because the performers were mostly excellent.
Philip Glass’s early work Strung Out (1967) was performed with hypnotically smooth tone by violinist Andrew Ngooi. Two pieces from the eighties continued the minimalist theme: Glass’s Facades, performed rather laboriously by string quartet and two saxophones, and an inspiring rendition of Steve Reich’s New York Counterpoint for clarinet and pre-recorded tape by Ben Power. Michael Lowenstein’s more recent Ten Children No 4 (2013) was built around charming melodies in the bass clarinet (played sweetly by Blake Howieson) echoed moments later on tape.
Eduardo Cossio, a composition student from the WA Academy of Performing Arts, conducted his own work Music For Oswaldo, an energetic and good humoured instrumental piece combining minimalist ideas with dance music from Peru.
The night concluded with an improvisation from the multi-talented Ben Power, who also coordinated the concert. Power performed barefoot using a pedal rig to add a wash of electronic effects to his clarinet twiddles and groans. His engaging improvisation ended after just minutes – I was hoping for at least a few hours in true Dream House style. None of the other performers ventured far beyond traditional performance conventions either, unlike Young whose practice questions the definition of music and often involves performance art. A missed opportunity in an otherwise satisfying concert.
This review copyright The West Australian newspaper 2014