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BWW Review: The Imaginative Flight of MUSIC OF PAPER's Story and Form

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BWW Review: The Imaginative Flight of MUSIC OF PAPER's Story and FormAs part of Bandung Philharmonic Orchestra's Children Concert Series, the cross-opera MUSIC OF PAPER is available to watch on YouTube for two days this weekend (July 25-26).

The creator behind Music of Paper is Le Concert Impromptu, a French chamber music ensemble and explorer of the eclectic through new forms of dramatic composition.

The group previously performed the show at Institut Français d'indonésie Bandung in February of this year, before the lockdowns. The version available on Bandung Philharmonic's YouTube (should you visit it before July 26, 2020) is a recorded version of the aforementioned run.

Music of Paper itself is an example of their signature cross-opera, a musical show developed from the classical opera tradition with the addition of other forms of art such as ballet and puppetry.

The show follows the life of a bird, from the very moment it hatched and through the inevitable hardships, both physical and existential. The whole tale is accompanied by music pieces played live by Le Concert Impromptu's five-person ensemble: Yves Charpentier (flute and artistic direction), Violaine Dufes (oboe and dance), Jean-Christophe Murer (clarinet), Antonin Bonnal (horn), and Pierre Fatus (basson).

BWW Review: The Imaginative Flight of MUSIC OF PAPER's Story and Form

Just as a baby bird is introduced to the world as it breaks through its shell, the audience was likewise immediately transported to the highly inventive world of Le Concert Impromptu the moment we bore witness to their interpretation of our protagonist's birth.

Instead of hatching from any egg-shaped set piece, prop, or graphic display, the bird started life as sheets of paper. The dancer then shredded off large strips and pieces of paper, seemingly at random. What remained was then twisted and folded into a surprisingly detailed likeness of a bird.

This display of artistry was but a taste of what to come in the 40-minute show. Music of Paper La Concert Impromptu's precise artistic vision and contemporary approach brought the story to life in often unexpected ways.

BWW Review: The Imaginative Flight of MUSIC OF PAPER's Story and Form

First and foremost, each member of the chamber orchestra quintet did not only perform on the side as the scenes unfolded. Rather, they played different roles as needed. They became distractions, hurdles, encouragements, and even forces of nature to the rueful avian.

The one who most often assumed the central focus of the show was oboist and main dancer Violaine. Her movements could be wild and unexpected while retaining unmistakable grace.

The music was highly distinctive; rather than simply playing their own instruments (though there were definitely a lot of it as well), the quintet formed a soundscape, utilizing tools and items not typically found in most chamber orchestras nor operas. Sounds of nature mingled with musical tunes, entwining with one another, morphing in and out of form seemingly freely.

BWW Review: The Imaginative Flight of MUSIC OF PAPER's Story and Form

And, yes, as the title suggests, paper played a big, inseparable part. Sheets of paper were tapped, crinkled, rubbed against one another or on other surfaces, and otherwise manipulated to create a plethora of sounds.

With its colorful design, Music of Paper is a thoroughly interesting practice in bringing the different forms of art together to present a wordless theatrical experience unlike any other.

However, its cleverness might be better-suited for those who have acquainted themselves with other forms of the performing arts and can better appreciate the full extent of what Music of Paper has to offer.

Some scenes might also feel a bit lengthy or ambiguous; yet, it should be noted that the recording could not fully convey the live experience and should not be expected to. The audio quality was especially rudimentary. Listening to the music and sounds live would unquestionably provide a better sense of immersion critical for the show's concept.

BWW Review: The Imaginative Flight of MUSIC OF PAPER's Story and Form

One highly memorable that would be near-impossible to emulate through a video recording took place at the story's climax; as our fibrous, winged hero laid weak after braving a string of hardships, the audience threw paper planes onto the stage.

The rain of paper planes gave the bird the strength it needed to push itself to take to the sky once more, and eventually to the bright and hopeful ending.

Barring the technical limitations and slight pacing problem, Music of Paper is a thoroughly intriguing and often evocative performance. It was quite the impossible task to guess what form the next scene would take; a rather apt allegory for life itself.

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From This Author Rakaputra Paputungan