Passion was the standout ingredient of this world-first collaborative performance by Australia’s Synergy Percussion and Korea’s Noreum Machi ensembles.
The Sydney-based Synergy Percussion includes Timothy Constable, Bree van Reyk, Alison Pratt and Joshua Hill, who together deliver a smooth and tasteful blend of individual styles and a self-described “ubiquitous way of making music”.
Constable’s energy is infectious, as is the riveting sound and quality that has been mastered through the ensemble’s respectful innovation.
The first piece presented in this OzAsia Festival performance at the Space Theatre was written by John Cage and performed by Synergy Percussion. It was brought to life through a collection of objects including tin cans, drums, the tambourine and cymbals, delivering diverse sounds and rhythms that were not just heard by the ears but also experienced through the whole body. The second piece was written in 1984 by Nigel Westlake for Synergy Percussion and remains a mainstay of the ensemble’s repertoire.
Then the performers were joined on stage by the Korean ensemble, which included drums, gongs and haunting vocals. Noreum Machi were established in 1993 and have gained admiration around the globe for their modern approach to traditional Korean music, with performances at more than 150 festivals across 40 countries.
After interval, the second half began with a ceremonial procession by the Korean ensemble, who entered from the back of the theatre and filled the Space with reverence. The double-ended drums they played were described in detail to the audience: the “one-skin” represents the earth, water and woman, and is complemented by the “two-skin”, which represents sky, fire and man. The yin-yang symbol is made complete in the centre by the “human”, bringing the expression of heaven and earth together as one.
Synergy returned to the stage for the finale, which delighted the audience with a combination of music, rhythm, dance, ritual and song.
The dictionary meaning of synergy is “the interaction or co-operation of two or more organisations, substances or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their individual parts”.These talented ensembles joined together for a collaboration of percussion served with a double helping of unlimited possibilities.
The performance was educational, emotive and effervescent – a resounding success and testament to the dynamic meeting of minds, instruments and cultures. Bearing witness to the nine artists taking their final bow on stage was a special moment; it felt like a celebration of all members of an extended family coming home at the same time.
Synergy Percussion Meets Noreum Machi performed two concerts at the Space Theatre as part of the OzAsia Festival, which continues this week.
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