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Timeline: Australian Chamber Orchestra and The Presets - Review

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by John Andrew (subscribe)
I'm retired, busy with volunteer radio and (with my wife) going to the theatre and enjoying 'fine dining".
Event: -
Life Flashes Before Your Eyes
Your intrepid reviewer once came across a paperback entitled "A History of World Civilisation". It was 120 pages long.

www.aco.com.au


In a not dissimilar experience, The Presets and the ACO took us on a whistle-stop tour of music starting with the Big Bang, the first human music and finishing with musical updates in 2014.

Be warned; anyone about to embark upon this musical odyssey should be prepared to come with an open mind in order to have their mind blown.

White noise, groaning, and the threnody of turbines mix into the music, and the back projection on a screen behind the orchestra.

In the musical equivalent of Stanley Kubrick's "2001 A Space Odyssey", we are drawn in by a kaleidoscope of images and sounds that send a shiver of awe as we witness the remarkable development of humankind.

The images and sounds represent the moods of each age; from the drumming echoing through the corridors of a distant time, the haunting Gregorian chants of the Middle Ages, to the sophisticated music of the Renaissance. The modern age is well represented by cacophony and dazzle. Interspersed are sombre notes that feature grim times such as The Plague. The words of the American Constitution are juxtaposed with the grim realities of slavery. In a scene reminiscent of "Oh what a Lovely War" we are confronted by civilisation reduced to rubble in two world wars.

Didgeredoo and ancient drums, chanting from Buddhist, and Christian monastic cultures, Ancient Greek and Middle Eastern songs morph into the sound of a Hebrew cantor.

The Presets took over the role of the DJ in the 21st Century, with a pastiche of pop, merging once again into the white noise and threnody with which the concert began.

There is the danger of information overload, and the necessity that such extraordinary time compression brings of alluding to epochs rather than exploring them.

But it is what it is, a boundary-bending ambitious tour de force which sweeps us along with its energy, and does not give us time to consider its imperfections. Let's hope we have more of these collaborations. And our minds will stop spinning soon.

• "Timeline" has been to Woolongong, Sydney and Brisbane.
• Performances are planned for Melbourne Arts Centre (1st and 2nd June) , Adelaide Town Hall (3rd June) and Perth Concert Hall (4th June)
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Why? Creativity, challenge,variety, wonder
When: 19th May to 4th June
Phone: 61 (0)2 8274 3812
Website: aco.com.au
Where: Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney
Cost: $56 - $99
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