Travels With JB

Travels With JB

Travel news and reviews

The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra’s English Baroque with Circa concert was memorable in several ways.

Members of Circa and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra.*

Firstly there was the spectacular work of seven performers from  Circa Contemporary Circus.

Secondly there was the unusual occurrence of the excellent work of the orchestra and soprano Jane Sheldon, occasionally being drowned out mid piece by audience cheers.

Circa performers showing their many skills.*

And thirdly there was the unexpected audience participation.

English Baroque is the orchestra’s third collaboration with Circa – the two others being Circa French Baroque and Spanish Baroque.  This show is arguably the most spectacular.

As Circa artistic director, Yaron Lifschitz, explains: “English Baroque is the next level. Not only bigger, brighter and with new acts, fresh ideas and some very special new scenes – but also richer.”

Circa performers in action.*

The program imagines four English worlds – the court, the bedroom, the chapel and the fairground – that on one magic night get inhabited by music, bodies, mayhem, play and beauty.

As a result audience members at the Melbourne Recital Centre were greeted by spell-binding acrobatic feats of strength and graceful control which included tumbles, dives, throws, jumps and contortions.

Human towers were a feature of Circa’s performance.*

Most unforgettable were the human towers the performers created and their tree-like poses while precariously balancing on the shoulders of their fellow performers. Gasps from the audience at the audacity of some of the human throws and balancing acts were usually followed by loud cheering. Individual performances on such equipment as the trapeze, rola bola, hula hoop and cyr wheel and juggling and balancing acts were received equally as enthusiastically.

All acts blended seamlessly with the music from the ABO which included works by Alex Palmer, Henry Purcell, John Dowland, George Frideric Handel, Arcangelo Corelli and Nicola Matteis.

At the same time there was far more to the Circa performers than their physical prowess. Their personalities, enthusiasm and comic timing were clearly evident. This was especially so when they chose audience members to join them on stage for an amusing dance scene.

Jane Sheldon with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Circa performers.*

While the performance of the Circa performers dominated centre stage throughout the 80 minute concert, the fine work of orchestra and Sheldon both in solo pieces and with fellow soprano Lauren Stephenson, were certainly appreciated by the audience.

In many ways English Baroque with Circa is the ideal team performance. The orchestra and Sheldon teamed perfectly with the Circa performers while precision teamwork ensured Circa multi-skilled artists worked almost flawlessly together to create an unforgettable show.

Jenny Burns attended English Baroque with Circa as a guest of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra.

*Photo credit: Steven Godbee

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