Zephyr Quartet commissioned new works from five significant composers, and the result is an hour of exceptional musicianship with a beautiful blend of styles, melodies and moods.
Each composer was asked to create a piece for a string quartet in response to the theme of light and dark, and the performance style ensures five very different experiences.
Between Light is a promenade performance: the audience enters the large hall and is invited to sit in two lines that form a V, with the quartet at the apex.
Lyndon Gray’s Lighter, Fluid is reminiscent of Fantasia with distorted shadows of the players projected onto the high ceiling and various dark shapes moving in time with the music. We progressed onto the stage, and amber light projected onto dangling Perspex strips: there was a sense of being enclosed and trapped but the audience was always delighted by the light and music.
Stephen Magnusson’s Dirt – Hue/Value/Chroma(Bound) felt like water drops plucked from the strings, then evolved into a lively, gentle march until finally it was Gershwin-like riding through a canyon .
When the stage curtain opened and the quartet performed Tony Gould’s Songs in a Gentle Breeze, I felt that the light and music were exploring all the memories that existed within the building and within us. “Surreal” is a word over-used these days, but the uniqueness of this event was genuinely surreal.
A single purple light bathed the theatre in mystery. Back on the auditorium floor, laser lights captured the quartet in a thin, blue, fragile wall as they played Andrea Keller’s L.D.D. (Light, Depth, Dark) – this score and staging had me feeling as though I was within a science-fiction film. The light almost created a sound shell for the players and the bows came close to piercing the fragile wall of light.
Finally, we were led underneath the stage to a very darkened area. Matt Keegan’s The Light Within somehow managed to take me to the outback, to a vast open area where the composition was reflective and contemplative – a kind of mass meditation. Two dancing fireflies lit up the darkness as they frolicked joyously to the music. Floor-mounted amber floods flashing in syncopated rhythms created a sense of experiencing a sunrise.
Between Light is an extraordinary hour: the Zephyr Quartet are excellent musicians, the five new compositions are beautiful, and the inventive lighting of the various areas places the audience within the experience and not merely as observers of it.
Make sure you dress warmly and rug up, because when you move from the warm, cosy foyer into the theatre it is invigorating to say the least. But when Between Light begins, the temperature will not be a factor, as this musical experience transports you to another time, another dimension.
Between Light, presented by the Zephyr Quartet in association with Vitalstatistix, is being presented at the Waterside Workers’ Hall, Port Adelaide, until July 3.