A very large audience was present at St Mary In The Castle for a short but nonetheless most unusual evening.
Divertimento for Rope and Strings brought together violinist, cellist and two corde lisse specialists. While the musicians played, Carol Dawson and Joe Keeley climbed, swung and deftly wrapped themselves in the ropes suspended from a large frame which had been erected within the central space of the building. So unusual was the enterprise that it was often difficult to know quite what to focus on or how to take it.
The music chosen for the two soloists was equally demanding. Brief works by Kodaly, Bartok and Ravel would have been unfamiliar to most and not the easiest of works to take in on a first hearing. This is in no way to denigrate the quality of the musicianship from violinist Phillip Granell or cellist Midori Jeager, just that it was often disconcerting to pin-point the focus of attention.
Odd moments of humour also seemed to upset the balance – was this a light-hearted event or was the humour a deliberate choice to prick the potential to take the event more seriously than was intended?
There were moments of great beauty when suddenly movement in the air above reflected the music below, but these were rare compared with longer stretches which seemed baffling – the creation of a living musical stave at the rear of the area never quite made any real connection with the music being played.
The free event had been staged by MSL Projects and Gisele Edwards in collaboration with Whirligig Arts, with a discussion session at the end to consider not only audience response to the piece but to the potential future of similar events. Where cultural events locally are expanding so rapidly, this was an exciting and positive venture, even if it did not necessarily prove to be more than a step in the right direction. By Brian Hick.