JOURNEYS INTO A STATE OF SOUND
Back in Brisbane, Surrogate Cities by the German composer
Heiner Goebbels received its Australian premiere at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre.
Surrogate Cities is a metropolis built from black dots and big ideas, and the audience is its residents. The journey through 10 suites is as sprawling, maddening, confronting and beguiling as life in a major city. And the music is as polyglot as what you would hear walking down George Street, veering from torch-song jazz to industrial noise, from hip-hop to the recorded voice of a cantor floating above strings.
Goebbels has thrown everything at constructing his sound and vision: an orchestra, two singers, sampled sounds and all sorts of objects to ruffle or bash, from newspapers to bunches of birch. In turn, the Queensland Orchestra and singers Jocelyn B.Smith and David Moss threw everything they had at the audience/residents. There were moments of beauty that dazzled and soared like the Chrysler Building, moments of percussive urgency and threat, as if we were about to be mugged, and many moments where beauty and menace coexisted.
The most extraordinary performance was by David Moss, whose improvised vocal turn lay somewhere between scatting and scary. Think Jim Carrey doing an impression of Ella Fitzgerald while being eaten by the creature from Alien.
If the greatest measure of a city's impact on its residents is how much they rave about it - rhapsodising,criticising, questioning - then Goebbels has nailed the effect of steel and smog on flesh and blood with his composition. The opening night audience could not stop talking about what they experienced in Surrogate Cities. That Brisbane has hosted its Australian premiere may also indicate how much this city has grown up.
Sydney Morning Herald (AU), 21 July 2003