DECODA | New York, Carnegie hall

So often a concert is given a title like ‘Revellers’ and it turns out to be a fun name belying the same old concert fillings and format. Not the case tonight with Decoda.

The Brahms, Lutosławski and Strauss that opened the programme were all sprightly, bright and inviting. More pleasingly, the energy and clear warmth between the members of the elastic ensemble spread into the audience with members of the group stepping forward to offer context between pieces. With these simple actions, there was a true sense of breaking the artist-audience divide, not least by sharing the stories behind the repertoire. Carnegie Hall also had the foresight to commission new work to sit alongside the better-known names in the form of Valerie Coleman’s Revelry. What a pleasure it was to see and hear her on stage talking about Bourbon’s impact on her town and how scenes of intoxication and decay had impacted on the piece that followed.

During the interval the screen on stage was used to project tweets from audience members interacting with evening’s #DecodaRevelers hashtag. However, this was merely an amuse-bouche for the showpiece visual component: Will Storie’s gloriously cheeky doodles of revelling animal-humans and human-animals which accompanied bassoonist Brad Balliett’s composition, Reveler-Scherzos.

The closing not-so revel-y Poulenc was sold as a mournful reflection that it was time for the party to continue elsewhere —perhaps the only real stretch of the theme— but indeed it was sad to leave such a truly welcoming, innovative and smile-provoking evening of music.

Join Decoda for their next energetic Carnegie outing on 23 Jan.

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