Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, Sat 30 Sep.
Cocoon is one of three programs collectively known as Meeting Points featuring the Australian Art Orchestra in collaboration with composers from China, Japan, Korea and Arnhem Land. In this program the composer and performer is Chinese-Australian Mindy Meng Wang. The music has also been orchestrated by Melbourne musician Jem Savage, and we are witnessing a world premiere.
Mindy Meng Wang is seated behind one of two large guzheng, or Chinese zithers, semi-surrounded by five members of the orchestra, on percussion, bass trombone, saxophone, viola and contrabass.
This is my first experience of hearing the guzheng, and no doubt it has been done before but for me the pairing of this instrument with the orchestral ensemble, particularly the interplay with the trombone, is revelatory. The percussionist is also kept extremely busy. Although the piece begins in the gentle tradition of the guzheng it soon whips into a frenzy of activity. If I thought a piece of Chinese music entitled Cocoon would be fragile or sleepy I am quickly proven wrong.
Mindy Meng Wang moves to the other guzheng for the second half of this piece. Although the whole program is only 35 minutes in length I could have listened for much longer.
Possibly because this program coincided with a popular sporting fixture there were more empty seats than I would have expected. Those people missed a musical delight!