Friday, February 17, 2017

TREASURES OF A NATION



Opening Concert of 21st National Multicultural Festival
Sarv Ensemble
Miriam Lieberman
Chinese Orchestra of China National Opera & Dance Drama Theatre
Presented by Ausfeng
Llewellyn Hall 16 February 2017

Review by Len Power 
 
The opening concert at Llewellyn Hall for the 21st National Multicultural Festival was packed full of extraordinary artists making stirring, unusual and enjoyable music.

The concert began with the Sarv Ensemble, which was established in Australia in 2001 as a band of professional Iranian musicians. They presented five items which were dynamic and very interesting musically.  To be able to watch these artists playing instruments unfamiliar to us and hear the variation in sounds they can produce and combine together with vocals by Maliheh Moradi was musically very pleasing.

They were followed by Miriam Lieberman, a singer songwriter with a very distinctive voice who also plays the Kora, a 21-string West African harp.  Her songs seamlessly blend contemporary folk with West African influences and are in essence a collection of stories, beautifully told through strings, powerful lyrics and her emotive voice.  Also playing with her were violinist Lara Goodridge and cellist Kate Adams.  Dancer, Lucky Lartey, added his own magic to the performance with his charming dancing to the songs.

After interval, the Chinese Orchestra of China National Opera & Dance Drama Theatre took to the stage with conductor, Hongxia.  The orchestra uses a combination of western and eastern instruments including the sheng, an ancient flute, the liuqin mandolin, the guzheng, a Chinese zither, and the gaohu and erhu, sometimes referred to as ‘the Chinese fiddle’.

They commenced with a dynamic work called ‘Jasmine Flower’.  The large orchestra played with great discipline and clarity.  This was followed by an Erhu concerto, ‘The Great Wall Capriccio’ with the soloist giving a very sensitive performance of this lyrical work.

Singer, Yafen sang two songs ‘Beautiful Taihu Lake’ and ‘The Mountain and streams’.  Her crystal clear voice was both beautiful and haunting, soaring over the orchestra magnificently.

On the guzheng, the soloist superbly played ‘Dancing Ink’  a melodic and atmospheric work and this was followed by the highlight of the evening, a Chinese Bamboo Flute Concerto, ‘Lovers’ Bridge in South China’.  Flautist Ma Yunhe played brilliantly and this melodic work was a joy to listen to.  All of the female soloists wore spectacularly beautiful dresses which added to this glittering occasion.

This was a very exciting concert and a perfect start for this year’s Multicultural Festival.

Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7’s ‘Artcetera’ program from 9am on Saturdays and also on other selected Artsound programs.

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