If DeepBlue looks familiar, you may be one of the three million people who saw them wow the judges on Australia’s Got Talent television series broadcast last year.
“It topped the ratings the night we were on. It beat MasterChef,” says West End violinist Greta Kelly, who has been part of the unique group since its inception. DeepBlue started at QUT in 2005 with the aim of reinventing the orchestra to give it wider appeal. “We’re not trying to throw away the orchestra,” explains Greta. “We’re just trying to preserve it in a more modern way and indeed we found that there are so many preconceptions and limitations that an orchestra has, that we dropped the term ‘orchestra’ and now we just call ourselves DeepBlue.” The group is made up of 16 musicians including six violinists, two violists, three cellists and a double bass player. “Then we’ve got, in the background, the ‘emus’ as we call them,” says Greta.
“The electronic musicians — drums, guitar, electronic sampled beats and keyboards.”
Their repertoire is an eclectic mix of pop, rock, electro and classical along with some of their own compositions. “It’s a big mix … we do a Corelli Concerto … there’s covers like Cat Stevens’ Father and Son, Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye, we do Radiohead’s Paranoid Android which is a really beautiful arrangement, and The Who for the baby boomers … and then some film music like an Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack to Cinema Paradiso.” Unlike many other string musicians, you won’t find this lot sitting straight-faced behind a music stand. Their performances are high energy with choreographed dance routines, a cello player on stilts, a violinist who can balance atop a double bass and a viola player who zips around stage on her unicycle. The group has toured all over Australia and will be travelling to perform in Taiwan and India before the end of the year. They’ll also be piling into three Taragos and a truck to take their new show Who Are You around Queensland.
For DeepBlue, touring is not just about turning up on stage, doing their show and leaving again. They like to get the community involved. “We’ve always had YoungBlue where young string players come and do a workshop with us and then they come and perform one piece during the show. They choreograph it and they perform their moves, and then we’ve extended that to include a community choir.”
Greta says it’s a great way to meet people in the places they visit, which can otherwise be difficult to do. “It’s been amazing. We did it around Western Australia and South Australia and the community choirs were really interesting. They’re kind of the people in the town who aren’t the miners or the farmers and they’re actually really into the arts, even though they live in the country. In Australia there isn’t much of a class divide but there is a real rural / metro divide and they’re a bit isolated out there.”
Words by Leah Carri | Images supplied