Thursday, July 07, 2011

String quartet plus didgeridoo

Yesterday I went to a concert as part of the City of London Festival (yes, this blog will get back to boating at some point).

This is a lot less well known than the Proms but has a really interesting range of concerts and, what's more, range of locations. The one I went to was in the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, one of the original Livery companies of the old City of London, going back to 1327. You can sort of guess what their guild was for and it was an amazing building, stuffed with gold plates the size of shields.

So that was a good start, and then the concert had a cracking good musicians, appropriately called the Goldner String Quartet, with a program that included Shostakovich's 4th and Dvorak's 12th, The American.

In between they had a number of works for string quartet and didgeridoo. Nope, I hadn't heard that combination before, one to add to this year's list of new sounds, along with the theremin. But those indigenous Australian instruments really added something: a earthy, throaty growl.

The one that worked the best for me, which was also a world premier, was performer and composer William Barton's piece that combined the intricate sounds of the strings with the pulsing rhythm of the didgeridoo, underpinning its beat.

There is apparently a down-under feel to the festival this year, and the string quartet also played works by Australian Peter Sculthorpe, who was also present.

So all in all a good concert... but there was more, as the pleasure of the evening was increased by three things:
  • The ticket included a glass of wine in the interval
  • There was a chance to go round the exhibition of silver art, which was wonderful, and included works like the bowl below by Alistair McCallum
  • An elderly lady in the rows behind us, whose voice carried somewhat, asked after the Shostakovich: "so there isn't a conductor then?"
Indeed ma'am, string quartets don't have conductors, but as this program showed, they sometimes do have a didgeridoo.

Updated: review in the Telegraph here.


Tillerman said...

Not exactly a string quartet...

JP said...

It was about as far as you could get from Rolf Harris.... fortunately!