Time & Space

ASO Time And Space 2022Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Sanctuary series. Grainger Studio. 4 Feb 2022


We all naturally gravitate to music for many reasons, including to relax and to refresh. Unlike most (all?) other forms of human creativity and artistic expression, music promises the rare ability to alter our perspective of things, and the effect is almost immediate. The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra’s recently concluded Time and Space concert delivered on that promise, in spades.


In these COVID stricken times, the ASO has capitalised on the imperative to operate with a reduced audience and turned it into the silver lining of an otherwise grey cloud. Specifically, the seating for the concert is gloriously spaced with choices of either sitting or lying down on a yoga mat, or sitting in comfortable chairs that are well spaced. The lights in the Grainger Studio are dimmed throughout the concert, and there is silence between each piece of music and at the end – no applause.


For an hour there is the music, you, and your thoughts. Nothing else and it is transcendent.


David Sharp, who usually is a member of the ASO’s cello section, conducts with quiet confidence and assurance a program for string orchestra comprising Philip Glass’s Tirol concerto for piano and orchestra (second movement), Osvaldo Golijov’s Tenebrae (arranged by Sharp himself), Valentin Silvestrov’s Der Bote, and Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel. The music is deeply meditative and contemplative, and persuades you to settle back, close your eyes and forget the troubles of the outside world.


Michael Ierace finessed the complexities of the Glass concerto and made each hypnotic repetition sound fresh and new. Having the grand piano at the back of the orchestra is an interesting decision (presumably by Sharp), but in the context of the event it’s entirely appropriate not to have a visual focus on such an imposing instrument. The dominant sense is intended to be hearing. His playing in Silevstrov’s Der Bote is again haunting as it emerges from the back of the auditorium and creates a sense of aching longingness and pathos.


Originally written for soprano, clarinet and string quartet, Sharp’s arrangement of Golijov’s Tenebrae is mostly successful but perhaps works better with a smaller ensemble where the voices of individual strings can shine through with greater clarity.


For many, the highlight of the concert was a sublime performance of Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel, featuring Simon Cobcroft on cello and Ierace on piano. Again, the repetitive nature of the piece – with its exquisitely beautiful variations that are seemingly predictable but always a surprise – inspired a deep sense of calm and tranquillity and sent the audience out into the balmy evening refreshed and relaxed.


Bravo ASO. What a wonderful addition to our concert diary. This is the first of two concerts in the ASO’s Sanctuary Series, and the next one is in October and is not to be missed.


Kym Clayton


When: Closed

Where: Grainger Studio

Bookings: Closed