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by Paula Towers
posted 23/01/2020

Bronze Lands (Tailte Cré-Umha): Review

Sydney Town Hall Organ Recital: January 21

Reviewed by Paula Towers

Sydney was recently treated to a non-traditional recital – an immersive, multi-sensory production: lying down on mats on the floor of the dramatic Centennial Hall, people relaxed, soaking up the deep vibrations and sonic textures of the Sydney Town Hall organ.

Built in 1890, when installed, this organ was the largest in the world. Standing over 13 metres tall and featuring nearly 9,000 pipes, it is still very impressive today.

Part of the Sydney Festival offer, in this latest organ concert, sound artist Robert Curgenven drew on his Cornish heritage when Ireland’s copper and Cornwall’s tin traversed the continent around 5000 years ago to make bronze.

Bronze Age sea navigation thus inspired the composition, reflecting routes taken by the stars, sun and moon.

With a meditative ambience, Curgenven’s music exploited the organ’s extensive musical range, from delicate, whistling tones to subterranean depths.

Designed for the physical space of the hall as well as the pipe organ itself, it created a unique aural experience.

As well as the dramatic and monumental presence of the organ, the spectacular lighting, ranging through a variety of colour arrangements both in front and behind it, served to enhance its architectural appeal.

Though this concert sold out quite quickly, those who missed out on the floor option could still enjoy the music in a more traditional (and possibly more comfortable) option, upstairs in the balcony.

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