Image by Fringe Festival Perth
Reviewed by Vivienne Chester
Coordinated by the team at Tenth Muse, this refreshing show takes place at the beautiful but un-airconditioned Moana Hall.
The idea behind the show comes from Sydney based composer and instrumentalist Christine Pan. Pairing specific traditional tea types with modern classical arrangements, the show is billeted as a ‘musical journey about tea.’
Once invited to sit down at one of the arranged tables, you will be guided through four pieces, each inspired by and paired with a specific tea type: Jasmine, French Earl Grey, Masala Chai and Irish Breakfast.
Although Pan is unable to attend the performances- her scores are in capable hands with a collection of highly skilled local talents.
Rachel Fish and Saskia Willinge distinguish themselves in the first piece, playing Pan’s complicated movements without a hitch. Beautiful melodies with daring interjections of thunderstrike on the harp work excellently within the piece to mirror the more traditional aspects of Chinese culture and music and, of course, Jasmine tea.
French Earl Grey was paired with a Bass Clarinet solo performed by Alex Wallace. Wallace’s technical skills are excellent and in Pan’s composition we see influences of Calabrian dance music- which comes from the same place as the orange blossoms present in the Earl Grey tea.
Next came a Masala Chai, drunk with a saxophone duet as the backdrop. Pan makes things a little bit livelier for the audience here by making her players (the wonderful Mia Vuković and Naoko Uemoto) race each other to the finish line.
Finally, we finished off the experience with some classic Irish Breakfast and a violin solo- performed by Helena O’Sullivan. Although we do see some Irish Jig influence at the start of this piece- Pan has utilised fiddle string movements here- I was hoping for this piece to have a little more of an Irish influence.
All in all, this was a wonderful experience. Tea enthusiasts and classical music lovers alike will adore this unusual Fringe offering. Musically, this show is complex and while being challenging, is a great example of the exciting things happening in classical music currently.
Tea Break is an amazing experience. A charming little break from the hustle and bustle of the outside world (where my tea drinking usually isn’t accompanied by a violin solo).