City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Simon Thacker’s Svara-Kanti, Symposium Hall, Review


By Dominic Harris - Posted on 26 November 2012

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Simon Thacker's Svara-Kanti.jpg
Show Details
Venue: 
Symposium Hall
Company: 
Simon Thacker’s Svara-Kanti
Production: 
Simon Thacker, Dhumaketu (guitar/violin/tabla); Nigel Osborne, The Five Elements (quartet); Terry Riley, SwarAmant (guitar/violin/tabla); Simon Thacker, Svaranjali (guitar/tabla); Simon Thacker, Multani (guitar/violin/tabla); Asa Singh Mustana/Surinder Kaur arr S Thacker, Main tenu yaad aavanga (quartet); Shirish Korde, Anusvara 6th Prism (quartet); Narinder Biba arr S Thacker, Khanu Marda Chandariya Chamka (quartet); Surinder Kaur arr S Thacker, Sava Ghund Chuk Ke.
Performers: 
Simon Thacker (classical guitar), Japjit Kaur (Indian singer), Sarvar Sabri (tabla), Jacqueline Shave (violin).
Running time: 
120mins

An unusual venue for an unusual performance. The Roxburgh Free Church was built soon after the Great Disruption of 1843, and is now part of the Surgeon’s Hall fold. The concert was performed under a beautiful wooden vaulted ceiling. Steep rising seats however made it difficult for the performers (especially those reading music) to communicate with the audience (only a fraction of whom are at eye-level of course). In spite of this the audience were treated to a concert which was thrilling in its departure from the relative ‘safety’ of traditional music.

The raga employs a five-note scale and is the corner-stone of Indian classical music. It is a beautiful word referring to tone, hue or mood as you will. Now that most modern concerts are performed in the evening its traditional impact as being both related to the seasons and the time of day has been lessened. Not tonight though. ‘The Five Elements’ by Nigel Osbourne, who has a deep understanding of the transformative effect of music, was captivating and introduced us to the wonderful world of the ‘waterphone’ and its celestial quiverings.

The boldness in much of the concert tonight was the fact that the musicians had scope for improvisation and it was perhaps in this area that I felt that communication between the ensemble could have been improved. The music was tantalising and dynamic but you felt the performers could definitely take it to the next level.

Simon Thacker’s compositions and reworkings demonstrate his skill and sensitivity in the teeth of what amounts to a considerably complex and original journey with little precedent. His mastery of the guitar allows him to pilot the ensemble through unchartered waters with great conviction.

The piece by Terry Riley, we were told, would force Sarvar Sabri on tabla, out of his rhythmic world and into one in which he was tasked with carrying the melody. He executed Riley’s intricate score quite brilliantly.

I must admit I struggle to understand the advantages of a singer choosing to sit. Japjit Kaur perhaps did so for the sake of interaction with the other musicians? However, it was at the audience’s expense as she sang from behind one of those rather large orchestral music stands. A haunting voice hampered by uncertainty.

The violinist Jacqueline Shave is a considerable presence on the stage and played superbly and her role musically, combined with her stage-craft, was almost that of a first violinist, not just a member of a quartet.

All in all, a very exciting concert, embellished with thoughtful explanations from Thacker. We await the next development with great anticipation.

Event: Sunday 25 November 2012 at 7.30pm