Given that I am Welsh and probably genetically hardwired to love close-harmony singing, I do not normally go out of my way to find it. However, on this occasion I made my way with my children (BBR11 and BBR8) to the Symposium Hall. As a venue, it is smart and has comfortable seats in the lecture theatre, each having a clear view of the stage and being well-placed for the acoustics. Australian Voices is a mixed choir of young people whose artistic director Gordon Hamilton wrote the music for Moon, while the text came from the pen of Australian writer Venero Armanno.
This darkly romantic love story between Diana, goddess of the moon, and Sam, a dying boy seeking solace on the internet seems melancholy and far-fetched at first, but the thirteen voices of the ensemble lifted the theme and conveyed emotion, as well as being used instrumentally. Movement also came into play during the performance and this helped with the essence of the ‘epic premise’. However, Sam’s foray into cyber-sex and his love-making with Diana whilst beautifully expressed, took the suitability out of the stated ‘universal’. It was a bit grunty in places. BBR11 was not phased but BBR8 squirmed, being eight. Mind you, he didn’t understand any of it and didn’t like the singing either.
About midway through, I heard throat-singing amid the voices. Supremely difficult, this technique raised the piece into the ethereal and it was impossible to tell from whose throat this wonderful sound emanated. The text is sparse and strange: Diana cries ‘tears of pearls’ and sends moonbeams to find Sam whose face is ‘ghost-lit by a computer screen’. A strange mix of ancient and modern, a reaching out to cross all divisions - between human and god, cosmic and earthbound, mythical, virtual and real.
The performance quite literally blew me away, through the stratosphere and out into the cormos, where I floated around for an hour or so before drifting back to Earth. Even BBR11 said he thought it was amazing. Moon is strange, ethereal and supremely beautiful. The subtle power of the voices transcends the everyday, and we all need a bit of that sometimes, don’t we?