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DeepBlue Orchestra – Who Are You?

Nerida Dickinson

An orchestra that keeps all hands on deck for exciting, string-powered entertainment.
DeepBlue Orchestra – Who Are You?
DeepBlue Orchestra made it to the finals of Australia’s Got Talent, but don’t think them flash in the pan reality television wannabes. The heights of the youthful performers’ enthusiasm are more than equally matched by the depth of talent in the ensemble – technical perfection seems to be the baseline requirement for membership.

Who Are You? started with a video loop and then a presenter explaining the interactive wifi dimensions of the show – a show where phones are checked to be ‘on’ at commencement. The mutual interaction was more than a gimmick, it was integral to the theme of ‘who are you?’ that directed the performance’s progress. However, while this may have been engaging for those used to multitasking between interactive media and real life, it was difficult to fully focus on both aspects of the show simultaneously – there was such a riot of music and movement on and spilling off the stage, that it was at times overwhelming.

Starting with a turbo-charged arrangement of the eponymous ‘Who Are You?’, the tone of the night was set – dynamic dance and movement, tight choreography that emphasised rather than distracted from the musical performance, and big bright smiles of highly motivated players shattering the audience’s preconceptions of orchestral music. No sheet music, no sitting (apart from some dangling legs over the front of the stage, or perched atop a prop ladder), no static counting of bars between parts – any break in playing was marked by spirited dancing or acrobatics.

The show progressed through life’s journey – from birth, childhood, the teenage years, falling in love, fitting in with society – using a range of styles, from Corelli’s ‘Christmas Concerto’ to Radiohead’s ‘Paranoid Android’, with Ennio Morricone, Cat Stevens, Penguin Café Orchestra and Gotye also featuring. The line between dance and music was blurred: pairs close dancing intertwined as they played their violins, cross bowing on cello, and an inflatable plastic guitar made a guest appearance. Amazing as it sounds, this is the concert to see a unicyling violist, jump-roping violinist and a stilt walking cellist – all playing their instruments as they careen about the stage.

Beyond the stage appearance, DeepBlue started work well before the lights went up, with young instrumentalists from the region having a masterclass with group members, and some of the players busking in the main street, walking and playing and handing out flyers to passers by. Each orchestra member seems fired by zest and zeal that leads to an inspired mix of high ideals and hands on approach to music.

A non-stop extravaganza, Who Are You? has plenty for classical aficionados and the shortest attention-spanned youngster alike.

Rating: 4 ½ stars out of 5

Who Are You?
DeepBlue Orchestra
Alex Hodgins - keyboards, sax
Allan Bremner - electronics, trumpet
Amanda Tio - viola
Emma Hales - cello
Evan Setiawan - violin / cello / stilts
Greta Kelly - violin / theremin
Gwen Warnick - double bass / electric bass
Heidi Chappelow - viola / unicycle
Hik Sugimoto - drums / v-drums
Jenny Marshall - violin
Liz Young - violin / stilts
Lyle Crombie - electric guitar
Richard Grantham - 5-string viola
Sofie Di Stefano - violin
Sophie Adamus - cello
Wayne Jennings - cello / stilts

DeepBlue Mobile Web App: Harpreet Singh, Richard Grantham, Andy Arthurs, Alex Hodgins, Heidi Chappelow, Greta Kelly, Sophie Adamus

Directors: Heidi Chappelow, Jenny Marshall, Evan Setiawan
Sound: Michael Smallman, Andy Arthurs
Lights: Kevin Bolt
Production Manager: Sophie Adamus
Producers: Andy Arthurs, Darren Clark

Mandurah Performing Arts Centre
September 1

For additional dates and venues see www.deepblueorchestra.com

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Nerida Dickinson is a writer with an interest in the arts. Previously based in Melbourne and Manchester, she is observing the growth of Perth's arts sector with interest.

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