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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | January 19, 2022

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Camerata Takes Flight in the Conference of the Birds

Camerata Takes Flight in the Conference of the Birds
Claire Matthews

Camerata – Queensland’s Chamber Orchestra presented an enchanting evening of chamber music, poetry, paintings and rich storytelling in The Conference of the Birds.

Held on Friday night at QPAC as part of Brisbane Festival, The Conference of the Birds combined ancient poetry by Farid ud-Din Attar with illustrations by Peter Sis and music by Lembit Beecher.

Floral artist Caroline de Lore embellished the QPAC stage with a nest surrounding the orchestra. Actor Liz Buchanan narrated the story of the birds on their journey, interspersed with evocative music from Camerata.

To open the concert, Camerata performed Mendelssohn’s Sinfonia No.10 in B Minor. This piece started softly, with a motif emerging in the lower strings, before building to a frenzy and ending as quietly as it began.

The Conference of the Birds is an allegorical story of love, faith, and searching for truth. It begins with all the birds of the world meeting together for a conference. Led by the hoopoe bird, they set off on a perilous journey to find their true king. The birds pass through seven valleys and lose many companions along the way before finally arriving at a lake at the top of a mountain. They see their reflection and realise they are their own king.

In Beecher’s composition, each member of Camerata had their own part, conversing like voices of distinct birds. The birds squabbled, argued and voiced opinions, but didn’t become a cacophony. Camerata used many varying techniques to imitate bird calls, including trills, glissandos, percussive bowing, and even sandpaper.

Throughout the journey, Camerata’s colourful soundscape evoked birdsongs ringing across valleys and mountains. There was also a sense of struggle, upheaval and loss. Strings and woodwind took flight, rising and falling through the sky.

Complementing the Conference was Vaughan William’s The Lark Ascending featuring Brendan Joyce on solo violin. The violin melody depicted a lark taking flight, with the warm tones of the orchestra underneath evoking a pastoral landscape. Brendan’s violin soared to the heights of the concert hall.

The Conference of the Birds was an immersive experience, blending sublime chamber music with visual art and poetry. Camerata performed an engaging, dynamic program, moving together as a flock.

Camerata are also performing as part of Brisbane Festival’s Street Serenades, so don’t miss out on free concerts in your suburb!

Coming Up
What: Camerata The Queen of the Nile
When: Friday 17 Dec
Where: RPAC

Photos by Alex Jamieson