Adelaide Fringe review: Ambient Orchestra presents an Ambient Primer of Fripp / Eno, Laraaji and Satie – Elder Hall (15.03.19)

American Composer/Conductor Evan Ziporyn opened a two-night residency in Elder Hall with a world premiere featuring new arrangements of Fripp/Eno’s “Evening Star, Side A”; Laraaji’s “Dances From Day of Radiance” plus his own “Frog’s Eye” and an Ambient Orchestra arrangement of Satie‘s Gymnopedies.

Ziporyn addresses the audience at the start of the show to explain the concept behind the event. His idea is to change the role of the orchestra in this age of electronic music by reinterpreting familiar sounds in a more immersive way.

The interpretation of Satie’s Gymnpoedies is surprising and gives a new meaning to this ambient work. The music builds in waves with lightness and subtlety to match. The cohesiveness of the orchestra was a standout.

The next piece from Laraaji, who himself is playing at the Fringe, has layers of complexity and flourishes but is still recognizable. Ziporyn conducts the orchestra will mastery and expertise, he has four touring members, but most are students from the Elder Conservatorium of Music. Despite their youth, they are skilled and talented.

After a short intermission, the orchestra returns and Ziporyn explains the inspiration behind “Frog’s Eye” as being a reminder of his time during summer at a pond near Boston, USA. The piece has flourishes of birds, insects and has a definite lazy summer feel. It is light and airy with a distinct upbeat feel.

To round off the performance, Ziporyn explains the influence that Brian Eno had on him as a young composer.  He has chosen side A of Fripp and Eno’s “Evening Star” to interpret. Again, the tension, the strength and the corresponding moments of quiet make this a joy to experience.

As an ambient primer, Evan Ziporyn’s ambient interpretations go a long way to reinventing this genre of music. An Ambient Primer is a very pleasant and joyful experience.



The Adelaide Fringe has finished for 2019, but head here for more details on next year’s event


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