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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

41 Strings at Sydney Opera House


Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeah's fame brought his ambitious 41 Strings project to Sydney's Opera House this weekend. The performance saw him play guitar while conducting an impressive line-up of acoustic and electric strings, ranging from violins to electric bass, with some drums and synths adding further layers

The composition used Vivaldi's Four Seasons as inspiration and was enhanced by visuals from acclaimed video artist Daniel Askill, which were projected onto the roof of the Concert Hall. The performance chronicled the ups and downs of the seasons in a mass of strings and percussion. At times pensive and moody, elsewhere brimming with joy, 41 Strings was beautiful and mesmerising. Zinner looked nervous and a little uncomfortable as he conducted the classically trained musicians that surrounded him (understandably enough - it would be pretty intimidating) but grew into his role as the music soared through the - criminally not sold-out - hall, to huge appreciation from the crowd.

However, while 41 Strings was wonderful, it was eclipsed by the night's first act, which was a special performance of companion piece, IIII, from Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Brian Chase and Soft Circle's Hisham Akira Bharoocha and Ben Vida (all of whom co-collaborated on 41 Strings). A drum circle was led by Bharoocha and, again, was based on Four Seasons. Bharoocha, Chase and Vida were joined by Ryan Sawyer and Matthew Watson as they led 16 additional drummers. It was jaw-dropping stuff: a delight to the eyes and the eyes, as a stage full of musicians drummed in perfect time, teasing the audience with a composition that started slowly and built to a truly exciting and invigorating climax. This performance was, without question, the highlight of Sydney Festival so far.

Review by Bobby Townsend.

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