Sydney theatre reviews Australian Brandenburg Orchestra


With Sydney Festival, you can be sure the programming does not fade away with less spectacular “left overs” for the final days. Charging boldly forward, right to the very end, the Festival showcased the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra making their contribution to the “Temperament” program, a week-long celebration of composer Johann Sebastian Bach. The program has included local and overseas artists performing Bach’s music at “The Neilson”, an exquisite, purpose built performance space in the ACO studios in Walsh Bay.

For the performance, the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra partnered with the Brandenburg Choir and Parisian born paint artist Silvère Jarrosson. The mixed media format combined pure, classical music and a work of art in the making. Ever changing, the show kept the audience absorbed throughout.

Artistic Director Paul Dyer opened the concert by performing variations on the ever popular Prelude no. 1 BWV 846 from Bach’s Book 1 of “The Well-Tempered Clavier”. It was a lovely, comforting way to begin, even if some of the variations were not quite as flowing as the original.

Musicians were added to one side of the stage and the choir on the other side, all facing the centre which was filled with a large square of carpet on top of well taped plastic to protect the beautiful flooring of the performance space.

The music ran uninterrupted in a series of short, lightweight works for solo instruments, small ensembles, then adding the choir. There were very well known pieces along with some lesser known ones to make a nice collection.

The music was not just there to entertain audience but also to inspire the featured artist. With abstract art, it can be difficult to pick out expressed emotions visually represented. The process seemed to be more technical than passion driven. However, the artist stopped regularly to pay attention to the performers before continuing with his work.

Twelve years ago, Jarrosson was working as a dancer with the Paris Opera Ballet. He had just scored his first solo role when his career stopped abruptly due to a serious injury. (Interesting how often such a dramatic event can change many creative careers.) Switching out his ballet shoes for paint and canvas, his success has been phenomenal. His work has been exhibited since 2015 in New York, Paris, London, Venice, Hong Kong and Rome.

Jarrosson entered the performance space wearing comfortable black sweats and white runners. (They were never going to stay clean for long.) Jarrosson has a specific way of creating his art by laying the canvas on the floor, pouring paint colours on top, then lifting the corners of the canvas, steering the paint to flow into or against the previous colours.

Starting out with bold, stark black, white and red; the work took on many more layers of ever more subtle hues, rippling and curving to make a unique piece of art. Jarrosson would sometimes spin the canvas vertically on one corner as if it were his ballerina partner, other times lift it over his head which was a little more puzzling. More subtle movements of the paint were achieved with less of a dance, simply lifting the corners off the floor a little – first one way, then the other.

Jarrosson’s exhibited works usually show strong simple contouring shapes. It felt as though the work was finished before the music so, more layers were added to fill out the rest of the performance time. This created a lot of blend and a lot of grey but also created fine ripples which still made the work interesting. My guess is that the artwork in the second performance will be even better as the artist becomes more familiar with the duration of the program.

“Bach & The Artists” is a wonderful partnership between music and art. There’s one more performance tomorrow and I do recommend you get along to see it. The space is intimate so you are sitting up close and personal with all on stage. Compare these notes with the new art work created! It’s guaranteed to be unique.

Related Links

Sydney Festival website:
Australian Brandenburg next concerts:
Silvère Jarrosson website: It is in French but you can view more of his work.