Regarded as one of the world’s best Baroque orchestras, Canada’s Tafelmusik likes to do things differently. Having memorised all the music for their performances, the musicians are free to move around the stage. And with a narrator directing the whole affair, each show is as much about immersive storytelling as the music.
Whether you are familiar with the music of Bach or simply curious, Tafelmusik’s latest outing Bach and His World – presented together with Musica Viva – offers a gateway into his musical realm.
Through video, photographs, images from the 18th century and a story narrated by actor Blair Williams, this multimedia performance is a rich education into why Bach is regarded as a ‘creative genius’ and what life was like in his time.
And in their dedication to draw out a sound true to the famous composer’s initial vision, the orchestra plays instruments similar to those that Bach himself would have played during the Baroque period.
“In a lot of ways this makes them harder to play,” says Katherine Kemp, Musica Viva’s Director of Artistic Planning. “But overall the sound of a Baroque orchestra is fascinating – it’s very colourful.”
“For a lot of people, even putting a label on something like Baroque is a little bit off-putting,” she continues. “So this is the perfect opportunity to go ‘Okay, Baroque, I am going to school up on this,’ because here we have the composer of that era.”
With Bach’s music canvassing every emotion, he is one of Tafelmusik’s favourite composers to perform. This concert is the third time the orchestra has collaborated with Musica Viva to tour Australia, with their last appearance The Galileo Project in 2012 honing in on science and the arts in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Their distinct way of presenting music in its historic and cultural context brings new life to the works, and the orchestra – liberated from their music stands – is able to fully engage with the audience.
The result is a show that offers a completely different kind of musical experience. Those new to Baroque music (the period that came before Classical music) are given a soft landing into this evocative world, while seasoned Bach lovers hear his music in a completely new way, thanks to Tafelmusik’s distinct style of playing.
Discover how this orchestra is reinventing the concert experience at Bach and His World, appearing at QPAC on 31 May.