FESTIVAL OF ARTS: The Galileo Project – Music – Town Hall – 4.5K

Tafelmusik is a world renowned, 17-piece Baroque orchestra based in Toronto, Canada. For over 30 years they have been presenting concerts of Baroque and Classical music across the globe. As part of the 2012 Adelaide Festival of Arts they, in association with Musica Viva Australia, have brought to our shores The Galileo Project, which was originally developed for performance during the International Year of Astronomy in 2009.

This is no staid classical music recital. A large projection screen looms over the stage, on to which breathtaking images of the cosmos are projected throughout the concert. The musicians enter and, while it is necessary for some – the cellists, the harpsichordist – to sit, the majority remain standing and actually move around the stage frequently, weaving between one another and around the central group. These movements are varied and, though highly choreographed, appear very natural.

The musicians all look to be enjoying themselves and there is a great sense of fun in their performances, with small sections of baroque dancing and one particularly amusing cat and mouse love game acted out by the soloists performing Tarquinio Merula’s Ciaccona. Between pieces, narrator Shaun Smyth fills the gaps with poetry about the planets, and historical information about the music being performed, or about Galileo, his contemporaries and the times they lived in. These snippets are interesting, compliment the music well and help to maintain the flow of the show.

All of the instruments used are either originals or impeccable modern replicas, and the sound quality from them is wonderful. The music itself is a pleasant mix of mostly upbeat compositions from 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, which are predominantly about the planets and stars. Interspersed are some pieces featuring lute solos, Galileo himself coming from a family of professional lute players, as well as the rather odd Astronomical Drinking Song, which could perhaps be considered the musical nadir of the concert.

The Galileo Project combines wonderful music performed by accomplished musicians with interesting historical information and awe-inspiring astronomical imagery, all presented in a novel and accessible manner. This is an engaging way to experience classical music.

Kryztoff Rating: 4.5K

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