Pipe organs are interesting, yet largely under-utilised beasts. Built into the grand expanse of the building, the organ at Sydney Town Hall is not an instrument in itself but rather turns the entire building into one. Ireland-based Australian composer and artist Robert Curgenven utilised this to its full extent in his immersive production: Bronze Lands (Tailte Cré-Umha). The work is performed while the bulk of the audience is lying down on the floor of Centennial Hall.
What immediately becomes apparent while lying on the floor is one’s inability to watch the performance unfold. Rather, you are forced to take in the full expanse of the beautiful ornate roof of the building; where lighting was set to complement the work.
A tribute to his Cornish ancestry and tribal trade routes during the bronze age, Curgenven creates a soundscape with a focus on texture over melody. Pushing the instrument to its full scope, the sounds vibrate through you, conjuring imagery and meditation. It is a visceral experience. One that allows the audience to drift and focus at one’s own will.
Clocking in at an hour, it’s the perfect length for this kind of work. At times the themes were similar throughout and lacked some colour, but when the organ sang, so did our whole bodies.
THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Bronze Lands (Tailte Cré-Umha) took place on January 21st. Sydney Festival continues until January 26th. For more information about any remaining shows visit HERE.
Header Photo: Yaya Stempler