Beethoven, Beer, Bratwurst… and Bjork! | Perth Chamber OrchestraPhoto – Richard Jefferson Photography

It turns out Beethoven’s biggest numbers are just at home in a shed in Fremantle as they are in the finest of concert halls. It’s not often you get to sneak a bevvy into Perth Concert Hall, either – a tragedy adequately rectified on Saturday night as attendees of Perth Chamber Orchestra’s Beethoven, Beer, Bratwurst … and Bjork! quaffed beer and wine and feasted on German staples such as bratwurst and black forest cake while listening to the maestro’s Symphony No. 2 and a variety of other orchestrally-backed delights.

The event is going strong in its fourth year under the direction of Perth Chamber Orchestra’s co-artistic directors, Jessica Gethin and Paul Wright, and Perth Symphony Director Bourby Webster, the evening kicking off with a rendition of Luigi Boccherini’s String Quintet Musica Notturna Delle Strade di Madrid (Night Music of the Streets of Madrid). It was a beautiful start to the proceedings, and gave the last of the incoming attendees a chance to grab their bratwurst and head back to their seats.

Next was the world premiere of 24-year-old award winning orchestral and electronic film composer, Sean Tinnion’s Remembrance. It is a work of phenomenal beauty, evoking the celestial, and a reminder of just how much burgeoning talent there is in Western Australia. WAAPA-trained Sean Tinnion devoted the work in memory of those who have lost loved ones and the piece featured talented harpist Eliza Bourgault de Coudray, joined by Curtin University-based acapella group Rhythmos, their vocals bringing adding depth to the close of the song.

I had been looking forward to the Bjork-themed portion of the evening, and was not disappointed. This was partly due to the stunning vocal stylings of Perth songstress Helen Shanahan (if you closed your eyes you could have mistaken her for the Icelandic ingénue herself), and partly to do with the fact that Perth Chamber Orchestra’s violist Jared Yapp has so beautifully and skillfully reworked Bjork’s Lionsong and Pneumonia.

The highlight of the evening for me, though, was a solo performance from Perth Chamber Orchestra’s concertmaster Paul Wright in Beethoven’s Violin Concerto Rondo. The violin was of special significance, a 1751 Adelaide Guadagnini on loan from the Ngeringa Arts Foundation, and under his masterful touch it came to life, the Juilliard trained violinist moving across multiple strings with speed and accuracy, and thrilling audience members with his lively performance.

Beethoven, Beer, Bratwurst … and Bjork! continues to be a hit, and for good reason. Part of its genius is the juxtaposition between “high” and “low” culture it enacts when it takes the granddaddy of classical music and places him in a shed in Freo. It’s a lovely way to question the nature of art/performance and to highlight the enduring relevance and beauty of classical music.

And if you’re still not sold on the idea of listening to Beethoven for two hours straight, you can always drown your sorrows in a second stein of beer.

Perth Chamber Orchestra presents
Beethoven, Beer, Bratwurst… and Bjork!

Venue: B-Shed, Victoria Quay, Fremantle WA
Date: 22 October 2016
Tickets: $85 – $120

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