The Galileo Project: Music of the Spheres | Tafelmusik Baroque OrchestraPhoto – Glenn Davidson

Musica Viva and Adelaide Festival have joined forces to bring to Australia the Canadian Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and their semi-staged multimedia show titled The Galileo Project: Music of the Spheres. Multimedia concerts are now a new trend in concert programming with which curators aspire to generate new audiences and to spice up core repertoire through the use of visual narrative and technology.

The orchestra's double bass player Alison Mackay is the author of the script which weaves themes of historical figures and discoveries in the field of astronomy and music via excerpts from W. Shakespeare, letters by historical figures and additional narrative with a bulk of well-known Baroque pieces. The concept is stimulating, educational and entertaining.

Well-known instrumental works by A. Vivaldi, C. Monteverdi, J. P. Rameau, H. Purcell, G. F. Handel and J. S. Bach are contrasted with few beautiful unknown gems such as the Adagio movement from J. D. Zelenka's sonata in F major, ZWV 181/1. The musicians are slightly choreographed; they make use of the entire performance space and play from memory.

Narrator, Shaun Smyth, has a strong presence and diction which gave the performance a theatrical flair. His declamation was hurried, perhaps in an effort to convey fast the excessive length of text.

This auditory feast was enhanced by lighting and a set juxtaposing two circles: one on the stage in which the musicians moved, and a round screen above the stage projecting two-dimensional static landscapes, stars and planets. The combination of professional Baroque playing, narrative and visual aspects was balanced enough for the audience to be intrigued and to respond very positively.

Owing to the curators and sponsors of the Adelaide Festival and Musica Viva, early music fans in Adelaide and visitors have been lucky to hear two of the leading Baroque ensembles in the world only days apart from each other. A comparison between the two is inevitable. Intense stargazing distinguishes the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra as the orchestra that demonstrated superior instrumental virtuosity, phrasing and exquisite dynamics.

2012 Adelaide Festival and Musica Viva present
The Galileo Project: Music of the Spheres
Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra

Venue: Adelaide Town Hall
Dates: Sun 11 Mar 5pm, Mon 12 Mar 7.30pm
Duration: 120 minutes (including interval)
Tickets: $93.90 – $33.30

Bookings: BASS online | 131 246

Written by Daniela Kaleva, University of South Australia

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