It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas after The Idea of North and West Australian Symphony Orchestra teamed up to play a smorgasbord of festive music from around the world at the Perth Concert Hall on Friday night.
Christmas showcased both WA’s orchestral talent and The Idea of North’s incredible ability to cross effortlessly between genres – if you closed your eyes at different times, you could have easily imagined yourself in Africa, Spain or Israel.
The Idea of North are a multi ARIA-winning a cappella quartet that have been around for over 20 years, with a couple of changes in performers during that time – tenor Nick Begbie is the only remaining founding member. The other members are soprano Emma Rule, alto Naomi Crellin, and bass Luke Thompson, and you wouldn’t have guessed that two of them are new additions this year, they all expertly moved between sophisticated harmonies and rollicking tunes and didn’t take themselves too seriously.
One of the evening’s highlights was from WASO – the beautifully performed trio of well-loved excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker – Overture Miniature, March and Waltz of the Flowers. Another was a beautiful arrangement of Joni Mitchell’s River, which Naomi Crellin sang with pathos.
Frequent collaborator with The Idea of North, Kai Kitamura joined them on stage at different points throughout the night and treated us to his incredible range of vocal percussion. “I was an unusual kid,” he laughed, as he explained how he got to the point where he could perfectly re-create the sounds of an acoustic drum set. He also impressed with the sounds of a vacuum cleaner, aeroplane flying overhead and a Transperth train.
At times there could have been better flow between performances and what seemed like endless thanking of different partners throughout the evening could have been done at the start or finish of the show rather than throughout. One other mild disappointment was that despite the brochure’s claim that “there will be time for delving into some of the most loved carols of our own culture”, there wasn’t much of this, with familiar carols moved aside for medleys and mash-ups. However, the last song on the program was Mary’s Boy Child and it was a pleasure to hear something familiar in a beautiful arrangement.
It was a night of light-hearted fun, with WASO playing outside their normal classical scope and seeming to enjoy themselves immensely, topped with Santa hats or reindeer ears.
The evening closed with a couple of encores, one of which was the Australian carol The Silver Stars Are in the Sky, which was a lovely note to finish on. Overall, it was a relaxing, entertaining performance and the perfect way to kick off the holiday season.
Christmas with The Idea of North & WASO
Conductor Benjamin Northey
Venue: Perth Concert Hall | 5 St Georges Terrace, Perth, WA
Dates: 8 December 2017
Tickets: $99 – $49