Monday, March 5, 2018


The Lost and Found Orchestra. 

Created and directed  by Stomp creator, Luke Cresswell and Master of Spectacle, Nigel Jamieson with community choirs and musicians. Adelaide riverbank and Elder Park. Adelaide Festival. March 3-4. 2018. 

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

The Lost and Found Orchestra. Photo: Steve McNicholas
The sky darkens over Elder Park on the bank of the Torrens River as Kaurna Elder Auntie Georgina Williams makes her generous welcome to country Festival artistic directors Neil Armfield and Rachel Healey pay homage to the artist and invite the large audience stretching across the park on chairs or blankets or grass to take part in their festival.. An aeroplane crosses the sky on its descent. A large constructed outdoor stage glows in red light, illuminating a three tiered array of pipes, piano guts, drums and gathered wind and percussion objects. A solitary musician enters with a Double Bass case and starts a percussive rhythm. He is joined by others with cello, bass and violin cases to join in the rhythmic beat o the hands upon the hard leather. The sound builds, more and more frenetic at every touch of the hands upon the cases. We are swept up in the sound, explosive in its fierce rhythms. It is the call of the Lost and Found Orchestra under Stomp creator, Luke Cresswell. 
Photo: Steve McNicholas

Bit by bit the orchestra swells as the musicians create a symphony of sound with the breathy tones of recycled hosepipes, the haunting, whistling  sounds of breath on bottles or wet fingers sliding along the glass’s rim. The percussive beat builds on vast oil drums, and bellows blast the sound of escaping air.  Before the vast throng of musicians from the UK and hundreds of local performers, Cresswell conducts his musical extravaganza. Bows sweep along saws, pot plants add to the rhythms, building the excitement and the ritual as the constant percussive beat inhabit the body and the spirit.
Under the magical command of Nigel Jamieson, Australia’s wizard of the spectacle, a performers' parade passes through Elder Park, past the seated audience and onto the scaffolded stage, shaking plastic bottles, rustling plastic bags,  and spinning umbrellas hung with chimes. On stage, long wooden poles challenge a contest of pounding percussion into the floor. Makeshift xylophones echo their Siren sounds to the sky as hosepipes blow, oil drums resound, and all  gives way to the tinkling sound of the docket dispenser. 
Photo: Steve McNicholas

This is no random explosion of sounds created by a variety of discarded and discovered items. Cresswell and Jamieson create a wonderland of rhythm and sound. With the skill of a Maestro, CResswell orchestrates the huge open air event, so that it becomes a symphony, culminating in a celebration of percussion, wind, strings and keyboard. While Cresswell plays Maestro, Jamieson plays the Ringmaster and the Lost and Found Orchestra becomes a dazzling circus of sound. There is even a clown, futilely attempting to coax sound from an inflated balloon. Musicians and performers excite the night air with joy and jubilation. It is a triumph of spirit, an uplifting  and exhilarating salute to the magic of sound, not made with the refinement of convention, but with the daring experimentation of playful curiosity. It is the sound that we can all recognize as the joyful spirit of childhood, liberating and full of fun. 
Photo: Steve McNicholas
 The orchestra reaches its finale with a flourish of sounds rom the motley collection of objects, while at the top tier and on the side tiers of scaffolding, hundreds join in the rhythms with song and the rustling accompaniment of plastic bags. The air vibrates in a crescendo of sound and in a sweep of his arms, Cresswell turns off the lights.
The crowd come to their feet in rapturous applause. The evening has been a celebration of community, transcending race, class and culture and uniting all in the quirky, entertaining and celebratory sound of the Lost and Found Orchestra. It has been the perfect invitation to all Adelaidians to take part in their festival in their city.