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Karakorum: A Medieval Musical Journey - Review

Home > Brisbane > Concerts | Classical Music | Music | Performing Arts
by JC (subscribe)
I have a had a life-long love of the arts; enjoying theatre, ballet, art and movies. We are all time poor and have limits to our entertainment budget so I hope an honest review will help make your choices easier.
An enchanting musical journey through history, culture and mystical lands
Karakorum: A Medieval Musical Journey was performed at QPAC on Tuesday August 7 by a cast of sixteen artist who were absolutely bursting with talent.

This performance was a successful collaboration between The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and French 'mediaeval-world-folk' ensemble La Camera delle Lacrime, with narration by David Wenham.

Karakorum, Le Camera delle Lacrime
La Camera delle Lacrime (French medieval folk ensemble)

In the 13th century, a Flemish Franciscan monk, William of Rubruck, took an evangelical journey along the silk road, from Constantinople to Karakorum (capital of the Mongol Empire). His journals are now one of the most historically significant mediaeval records. He documented stories of hardship and starvation as he and his companions traverse a foreign and harsh landscape. Most interestingly he recorded his observations of the people he met - their beliefs, traditions, culture and lifestyle. The most significant meeting on his journey was with the Great Khan Möngke (a direct descendant of Genghis Khan). At the Karakorum palace, Rubruck presented the Christian doctrine in an attempt to convert Khan Möngke - an attempt that failed when the Khan announced that all roads lead to God.

Karakorum: A Medieval Musical Journey reimagines Rubruck's journey - his story is weaved around beautiful performed Mongolian, Buddhist, Sufi and Gregorian Chants and Hymns.

David Wenham's (known for his roles in Lord of the Rings, Lion, and Pirates of the Caribbean), narration brings Rubruck's journey(as interpreted by La Camera Director Khai-dong Luong) to life. Wenham's tone was perfect for the part of Rubruck- delivering a performance filled with gravitas and mystic contemplation, he pulled the audience into an ancient time. While at times it appeared he lost his lines, his character never slipped and the recovery was expertly managed.

Karakorum, David Wenham
Narrated by David Wenham

A range of instruments bring authenticity to the performance. Strings and organ blend with ancient instruments such as the Kamanche (Iranian string instrument), Erhu (Chinese bowed instrument) and Hurdy-Gurdy (hand-cranked string instrument).

Yan Li', playing the Erhu, gave a mesmerizing and emotional solo performance - her classically trained voice paired perfectly with ethereal Erhu tones. Percussion was expertly applied to both enrich the rhythm and underscore the chants. The audience was particularly roused by Michele Claude's talented percussion solo—filled with flair and finished with a humorous cheek pop .

Karakorum, Yan Li, Erhu
Yan Li plays the Erhu

Bruno Bonhoure, the lead singer and music director, was the star of the night. Bonhoure, who along with Luong formed La Camera, proved to a be both a charismatic singer and dancer. He was able to adapt his voice to deliver a broad range of songs and chants drawn from Christian, Buddhist and Islamic mediaeval music. His authentic and mesmerising performance made richer by beautifully subtle dance movements - evoking a mystical aura broken only by his cheeky play with both the audience and orchestra.

Karakorum, Bruno Bonhoure
Bruno Bonhoure, Singer and Musical Director

The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, known for taking risks, have delivered an enchanting and thoroughly entertaining evening of music. Filled with exceptional music, uplifting chanting, a historical tale and a cultural expose, this performance would appeal to a wide audience.
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When: 7 Aug 2018, 7:30pm
Where: QPAC Concert Hall
Cost: $57 - $97
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