Homophonic! (directed and produced by Miranda Hill) was a celebration of classical and contemporary queer composers, playing at La Mama Courthouse for a short season (30 Jan – 1 Feb 2020) as part of the Midsumma Festival for the 9th year in a row. It was a concert that showcased a variety of instruments, sounds, musical styles and stories over its two hour duration, and was an engaging experience with much to offer, including opportunities for the audience to participate if they wished.
The concert opened with Twilight Settings by Laura Kaminsky, an Indonesian-inspired work which impressively conveyed the mood and poetry of the twilight theme. The show also featured works by Christina Green, Naima Fine Fine, Stephen de Filippo, Wally Gunn, and Sean Shepherd, among others. Two of the works offered opportunities for audience participation: Naima Fine Fine’s Stonemaker, which had space for six audience members to lie on pillows the floor and experience a sound bath between the dramatic sounds of the cello and the bass clarinet, and Pauline Oliveros’ Tuning Meditation, which opened up the stage for the audience to step forward and sing their own notes in an uncomplicated, gentle meditation which eased into the interval.
Every work in this show was beautifully done and enjoyable, but the two highlights for me were Edge Sky Self by Christina Green and Candy Royalle, and Star Picc by Stephen de Filippo. Edge Sky Self was a spoken word/poetry piece set to music and brought to life by Eleanor Jackson’s mesmerizing voice. Star Picc was an outrageously entertaining work performed by powerhouse Laila Engle, which featured a mix of live instrumental music, electronic sounds, breath work and other effects. Engle’s masterful performance created an experience reminiscent of an alien spaceship tearing through time and space, reflecting dramatic samples of the cosmic soundscape as it whizzed past.
Overall, Homophonic! was a show with rich queer history, quality music, skillful performances, and a warm, unpretentious vibe: a lovely Midsumma offering.