Monday, January 18, 2010

Eclectic is the word!

MONA FOMA Festival
Thursday nights offerings
By Gai Anderson


The Bond Store at the Museum and Art Gallery, is an ancient Four - floored building of stone and hand hewn beams. The smell of the earth rises up from the lower ground to meet the furious piano sounds of Keiran Harveys “48 Fuges For Frank” - a musical homage to the life and work of Frank Zappa. Four different keyboards are played on four different levels during the performance, set amongst the varied and entertaining art and poetry of a group of local artist / Zappaphiles, as curated by Leigh Hobba.
As Harvey moves between the floors, the audience, seated by the grand piano, is linked to the performance by video screens.
Harveys intriguing and intense compositions were mostly performed on the grand piano, and played with amazing dexterity and focus. His hands furiously running back and forth across the keyboard were stunning. But I found the moments on the other keyboards the most interesting musically, an old pump organ, a portative pipe organ, and a Kawai electronic keyboard , (my personal favourite) ,- and to be honest most reminiscent of the earlier phases of doowop / rock / jazz inspired Zappa music that I love.
I must admit I am not conversant with the later works which inspired this concert, and so I found it a bit hard to penetrate, and wanting for some of the humour that is such a mark of Zappa . But perhaps I just don’t know how to read the musical jokes in this?
I would have loved Harvey to dance up and down the stairs between instruments but hey I did leave laughing at the “Hot Rats” of Matt Wards sculpture scurrying about on the top floor.

I then rushed off the Princess Wharf 1, which has been transformed again with an astro turfed front lawn, and is pumping with (mostly)youngsters lounging on bean bags watching the video wall.
I found some delicious South American Inspired food , before I run back up to the Town Hall for …

The chandeliered Town Hall was filled to the max with yet another sort of crowd – mostly older – the symphony crowd I guess - all here for a pipe organ and oboe concert. The virtuosic performers present a variety of classical and more modern pieces .
I was totally transported by the combination of these two beautiful voices, the oboe looped around the room with such clarity above the more grounded sounds of the huge organ pipes, set into the back wall of this incredibly opulent space.
I realised how demanding an instrument can be as I watched the great effort of Kalous filling her lungs at the behest of her oboe, and the intense focus of Kahout at his multi voiced keyboard.
The crowd cheered and after a standing ovation and encore I rushed off with my head still full of divine sounds back to PW1 …

… to catch the very end of Helmet Head, and with just enough time to get a drink and watch the video wall for a moment...It was busy now, young and old together, filling up the bean bags in front of the stage waiting for the next band.

A group of young Melbourne musicians in space suits, who were instantly infectious. The crowd was up and dancing, whilst science fiction and jungle images flashed across the giant screen behind them. What a way to end the night!

It’s a great PARTY , wonderful music , fantastic performers, all sorts of great ART .
There is something for everyone and just about all of it is
So get into it – no excuses.

Gai Anderson is a Cygnet based writer and performer .

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