REVIEW: Homophonic! – La Mama Theatre/Midsumma Festival

1 year ago
Aidan Johnson

Packed to the rafters, Homophonic! was clearly the place to be on that hot Melbourne night. A mixture of good music with audience participation (more on that later), the show as touching and at the same time educational, highlighting the “straight-washing” that exists in classical music (something which, from my own experiences as well as my own limited knowledge of classical musicians, surprised me).

As part of the Midsumma festival in Melbourne, Homophonic! added a classical music touch to the festival – or, perhaps, it added some much-needed re-LGBTQI+-ing of the classical music scene. Artistic director Miranda Hill certainly did a solid job, and her playing in several of the pieces also helped give her an inside-perspective on the matter.Thankfully the show does not appear to be a one-off, as this was the 9 th year of it running – and, judging from the sheer number of audience members, it clearly is not going to go away any time soon. A positive thing for sure.

For those who haven’t the foggiest about classical music, the pieces chosen were still accessible – quite literally in some cases. In the first half, these ranged from beautiful explorations of bushfire-ravaged landscapes and sunsets, through to poetry combined with music. There were even pieces that involved audience participation – the final piece in the first half had the bulk of the audience stroll onto the stage and start singing along. It is a rare thing to have audience participation in classical music concerts, so Hill’s choice to include this piece was definitely an inspired choice. Several of the pieces were Australian or even world premieres, so the audience was definitely getting a treat. And ending on a Cole Porter song is always a great way to finish an evening. The performers themselves all deserve the usual kudos of course. Certainly for those not intimately acquainted with the pieces it appeared flawless in multiple instruments.

The Venue is fantastic, and well suited to performances even of this size and even of large audiences. Unfortunately, due to the unbearable heat of the day (Melbourne was experiencing the heatwave that was sweeping the country at the time), the air condition struggled to accommodate the bodies in the room, and, especially in the upper seats, the heat was mildly distracting.

Overall, a solid show with great music and strong audience participation. It was a pity that the sheer popularity of the show made the room incredibly hot, but that is a small price to pay for good music. The diverse array of performances and compositions, including from one where the composer was in the audience, helped keep the show fresh. Definitively a strong addition to the Midsumma Festival, and to classical music in Melbourne in general.

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