A Melbournian who wonders as I wander. I have spent a lot of life colouring in moments and take great pleasure in creative expression of experience. Interested in Design, Art, Film, Photography, Painting and all things French.
I have never thought to ask myself what baroque music was or whether I liked it. Max Riebl's adeptly named Hard to Handel concert has unveiled to me how unwittingly I have always been a fan. It is not a type of music I would seek the opportunity to hear but you need to attend this concert to be shown how its essence has long been in all audiences' ears.
Baroque music is purity of tone, the shivering, etherial transcendence of emotion sought for in all music. But the word baroque is up there in the clouds, grounded in the hush of its history. Contextualised where it can find preferred acoustics in churches and grand concert halls, it often stays there... apart from the general audience.
This removes it from many peoples consideration and the word is relegated to another person's world. You know, The 'musical type' admired and envied from afar for their access to a spiritual realm. I would never have considered baroque and pop in the same breath. Max Riebl has serenaded my comprehension by addressing the universality of this form of emotional expression.
On the left side of the road, opposite the Town Hall and Greville St, you turn left and follow the street across a road before turning right into Clifton St. The venue is on the left side of the street and stands out - you look up and it is there. Oh, you think, okY, maybe it is a theatre show.
Up two flights of stairs, you find the venue office and are directed around the corner to your right, up to a corridor into... not at all what I was expecting. The theatre has a bar with some tables and regular pew theatre seating. It is a bit like an old Hollywood movie style cocktail lounge. With the bare basics of the architecture, it has already conjured in my mind glamour and the shimmer of superstardom.
The pre-performance soothing tones of 'Moon River' were like a stream in a green field further carrying thoughts to classic film. The masterful pianist Adam Cooks gentle introduction gives no hint to the voice to come from Riebl's being. A classical arrangement of Adele's Bond theme seers the hair up from your skin and the acoustics of the room begin to be appreciated.
Baroque is a style of Western Art Music composed from 1600-1760. Usually, I think of it in association with huge paintings of cherub and romantically engaged figures.
Now I have been to this concert I have realised this impatience was my lack of understanding and inefficient modern expression of the form. Riebl bridges time and barriers of high art by communicating the narrative of the raw human experience in each carefully crafted breath.
The most thrilling part is the music becomes a portal of vision which fuses the past into the now. Historic figures no longer seem foreign and fuzzy. The context Riebl gives to each song makes a 16th-century composers experience as resonant and relatable as the sense of pure honesty I usually draw from a P!nk, Mariah Carey or Sia song.
Baroque now makes me think of The Carpenters, Adele, Elvis or P!nk as much as Henry the VIII or a historical drama. Riebl has showcased its charisma, crystal tone and scintillation of performance. The combination of his voice (which you just have to close your eyes to float with), his narrative and the mesmerising piano playing, makes this performance life changing. Like a curtain lifted on sunlight, Baroque is definitely something I'd now seek out to listen to en par to pop.
The Baroque era created - Common Practice tonality. An approach to writing music in which a piece is written in a particular key, a practice used in almost all contemporary western music. It is easy to think of music and its creation when framed in terms of composition as a mechanical intellectual process and its history seems lifeless until you have an experience like this concert. Music's reality as a language of the soul is poignantly displayed.
A derivative of the Portuguese word barroco, baroque means misshapen pearl. Originally used in expression of opera and ornate architecture, it did not come to refer to a period of music history until the 20th Century. It is the perfect metaphor for the haunting experience reminiscent of mermaid song, wind whistling through shells.
I recommend seeking out a concert by Max Reibl, who with the pianist Adam Cook, gives you more than an hours serenade. You gain education and the passion to discover more about a musical form which seemed beyond me before.
The MC showroom is also a wonderful discovery. This Black Box theatre has a lot on offer, inspire and entertain. All is made more special by being hidden. Just like the pearl of music, it opened up to me Saturday night.
Prahran Town Hall, Landmark on the way to a transcendent experience