Angels vs Demons [FringeTIX]
Lumina Vocal Ensemble @ Barr Smith Library – Reading Room
3:00pm, Sun 21 Feb 2010
I’ve discovered that an injection of taurine into my mid-afternoon routine (in the form of Red Bull) is almost necessary to be able to push through the day with my eyes open at all times; so, ambling towards Adelaide Uni’s BSL, I dropped by the KBS Convenience Store (two Red Bulls for $5.50!) and neck one before heading to one of my favourite places in Adelaide – Wills Court, within the Uni Grounds. I find it remarkably tranquil – more so when they’ve got water flowing in the pool there – and the warm day and quiet surroundings soon have my eyelids drooping. Anxious to keep the drowsiness out of shows, I decided that the right thing to do was to meditate for a bit.
Forget good versus evil, or light versus dark… Red Bull versus meditation is where the real battle is. It’s bloody hard to drag a racing heart into a meditative state, let me tell you.
Eventually, a bit better rested, I head down to the Reading Room of the Barr Smith Library for this performance. The Reading Room is another of my favourite places in Adelaide, partly because of its inspirational beauty, but also because of memories of lustful teenage fumblings within it’s sleepy hallowed halls. The Room is implicitly split into two – one half providing ample space for the performers (and which they utilise well), the other containing a surprisingly large audience.
The Lumina Vocal Ensemble consist of a healthy fifteen choral singers, and they seemed to exude a distinct mood that felt like I imagined “renaissance” should feel. The opening piece, Dies Irae, Dies Illa, sees half-a-dozen men from the Ensemble perched at the far end of the Reading Room – an aeon away, but the space adds a stunning echoic ambience to the sound.
The men move to the implicit barrier that separates Them from Us, and are joined by the rest of the Ensemble for Anna Pope’s The Traveller. Part I features some lovely gender-split overlays and alternations between the men and the women, and Part II is simply thrilling – explosions in tempo create a real rollercoaster of a listening experience. James Scott’s baritone solo in Part III, though, is absolutely amazing.
Saam Thorne’s The Common Perception of Demons is brilliantly constructed, with the Ensemble clapping and stomping the pace into the piece; The Truth of Demonic Existence is an almost mirror-image of a follow-up, with wind-whistles and clicks creating ambience. The penultimate song Faire is the Heaven has a stunning conclusion, but then Rachel Sag’s Speak Of The Devil kicks in straight away… complete with a breakdown and a rap(!), this is a very contemporary end to an otherwise classical performance.
I loved this, I really did. With the sun streaming through the BSL windows, it’s an utterly ethereal experience hearing these soaring voices and orchestrations echo throughout the Room. The Ensemble themselves were glorious; the songs (mostly penned by members of the Ensemble) worked brilliantly.
Possibly the only technical negative to be levelled at this show would be that the accompanying projected images & videos added nothing, providing only the opportunity of distraction. And what was up with the snippets of Metropolis during Faire Is The Heaven? What’s that about?
There was one other downside, though – the reluctance of the audience to applaud at the end of each song, leaving uncomfortable pauses heavy in the air. The fact that I feel guilty not starting the applause myself is a handy reminder that I’m quite a sheep in that regard – awareness of which comes back to bite me further into this Fringe. But more on that later ;)