Australian Brandenburg Orchestra celebrates and showcases the music of the 16th, 17th and 18th Century, with its repertoire is always performed with flair and joy.

The latest production for the orchestra is Karakorum: A Medieval Musical Journey. Through music, singing, and dance, the orchestra shares the story of one man’s quest to convert the Great Khan to Christianity in the Mongol capital, Karakorum. The man was William of Rubruck, and this theatrical musical voyage is based on his manuscript and itinerarium. The story explores religion and the changing world and prompts the audience to consider how success can be measured.

Joining the Brandenburg Orchestra is the medieval world folk ensemble, La Camera delle Lacrime, and members of The Brandenburg Choir. Period instruments are used during the production, providing an authentic sound. To tell William’s story, the performance is narrated by David Wenham (Seachange, Lion, Top of the Lake). Wenham weaves and wends around the stage as though he is in reality undertaking an arduous journey. Combined with the instruments and choral arrangement the effect is somewhere between an audio book and a great stage musical. The auditory stimuli is rich while the visual effects leave room for the imagination to explore ancient Mongolia.

Unlike a conventional orchestra, the Brandenburg Orchestra is not led from the front by a conductor with a baton. Instead, instructions come from musical director and lead voice Bruno Bonhoure inside the performance. Bonhoure stands beside his fellow musicians, his cues and directions woven into the fabric of his performance. As he dances around the stage, he expertly ensures cohesion and unity among the players, all while remaining perfectly in character. A sense of joy is ubiquitous among the performers, they smile amicably at one another often throughout the production. And a great enthusiasm and love for their respective instruments and what they have all created together is clear. Solo performances are undertaken with pride and listened to intently and respectfully by other members of the ensemble.

Enhancing and complementing the performance of Karakorum is the comprehensive listening guide. This details the story and origins of the orchestra, La Camera delle Lacrime, and the choir. So too are all of the period instruments featured throughout the production, as well as a history of the area, William and his people. This makes the experience of seeing Karakorum one that will last well beyond one night.

Karakorum: A Medieval Musical Journey is currently touring nationally.

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