Spanish Baroque – Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and CIRCA

Circus meets Baroque Music in this exciting collaboration between two top Australian performance companies.
Spanish Baroque – Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and CIRCA

Image by Steven Godbee

Spanish Baroque brings together wonderful baroque music and adventurous circus to create a performance that is highly enjoyable and entertaining.

The musicianship of the Brandenburg Orchestra is world class. This program of Spanish Baroque music, selected and curated by Artistic Director Paul Dyer, gives a chance for all the musicians to shine. The voice of the young New Zealand soprano, Natasha Wilson is clear, pure, and true, and the baroque guitar of Stefano Mairoana was wonderful.

The circus performance from Brisbane based company Circa tackled gender stereotypes with the female acrobats doing much of the basing and the strength work. The highlight of their performance was an inventive and playful static trapeze which featured a female trapeze artist and four male performers. In this section the men’s tumbling led into a contact improvsation section, with the female artist in some sections taking the full weight of the male acrobats whilst she was suspended on the trapeze. This section was innovative in terms of its approach to gender roles in circus, and adventurous in its split second timing.

All the aerial acts were engaging. The rope act, on an innovative piece of equipment featuring multiple ropes, became a means to twist and spin the ropes out to form different shapes in response to the dynamics in the music, and the silks act was visually appealing with its fluid and dynamic movement.

Either company’s work in this evening’s program could stand as a full performance in its own right. The problem in this collaboration stems from the dominance of the eye, and the fact that the spectator, even when making a conscious effort not to, is in the position of focusing predominantly on the most visual element in the evening, namely the acrobatics. Sections of music played without acrobatics, aerials or clowning were few and far between and, as a result, the dynamics between the two art forms fell out of balance. Even the superb, muscular playing of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra in this situation tended to function as accompaniment, as it was almost impossible to pay appropriate attention to the live playing of the music, and to the circus performance, at the same time.

This collaboration, however, points the way to vital new ways of experiencing live arts and is exciting to see. It is to be hoped that more of these kinds of collaborations take place as they are groundbreaking and important.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Spanish Baroque
Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Circa
Creative Team:
Paul Dyer AO, Artistic Director, Australian Brandenburg Orchestra
Yaron Lifschitz, Artistic Director, Circa
Natasha Wilson: Soprano
Stefano Maiorana : Baroque Guitar
Performers of Circa

City Recital Hall, Sydney
3-12 May 2017

Additional performances:
Melbourne Recital Centre, 13-14 May 2017
Queensland Performing Arts Centre, 16 May 2017

Katie Lavers

Monday 8 May, 2017

About the author

Dr. Katie Lavers is a writer, director, producer and researcher based in Sydney.