REVIEW: Silkroad Ensemble at the Sydney Opera House
Silkroad Ensemble at the Sydney Opera House on 9 March 2019 – the internationally acclaimed group is currently touring Australia and stopped by at the Opera House last Saturday for their first ever Sydney performance.
Reviewed by Julia Ulbrich
When Yo-yo Ma founded the Silkroad Ensemble in 1997, his goal was to unite musicians of different cultural and musical backgrounds to create something new. There is no doubt that he succeeded. The diversity of the group is what makes Silkroad truly special. Their performance in Sydney featured classical instruments such as the violin and the bass, as well as traditional instruments, like the Chinese instrument Sheng and percussion instrument Tabla. To showcase their jazz influence, the group started off with a vibrant piece, and later gave some of their secondary instruments a chance to be heard as well. Percussionist Sandeep Das jokes that composing a percussion-based piece was his only chance to draw even with the string musicians, but it is true that at Silkroad every voice (or instrument) gets heard.
The group isn’t afraid to change things up or to let just a few members of the Ensemble lead the show at times, whether it be a duet of Wu Tong playing the Sheng and Christina Pato playing the bagpipe, or violinist Mario Gotoh playing alongside singer Nora Fischer, who is beautifully performing a traditional song. One of the highlights was certainly the melancholic performance of one of their singles from their Grammy- award winning album, Sing Me Home, which even left those in awe who couldn’t appreciate the earlier acoustic performances. Presented in the Sydney Opera House’s largest venue the Concert Hall, a sold-out venue would have added to the overall experience…The artists also shared their personal stories between songs stressing the idea of music as a unifying tool. I’m sure everyone in the audience left inspired by this melting pot of great artists and their music..