VISUALISE! At Swiss Church London, 14th August 2014

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(L-R) Midori Komachi, Belle Chen, Olivia Geiser, Lydia CS


VISUALISE! At Swiss Church London, 14th August 2014
Review by Mike Sullivan

VISUALISE! Is a recent performance group that has come together in order to provide a new perspective on how classical music is experienced by the current generation. They work on bringing classical musicians together with visual and performance artists, thus creating a new medium in which the audience can enjoy both music and live art. On the 14th of August they had an event at Swiss Church London, there has been a Swiss church for over 250 years and still today freely welcome anyone who wants to enter their doors. As part of their mission aims they invite artists to exhibit, and have performances by musicians with links to Switzerland.

You may wonder why this event is being covered by the Japan Society Review, but in fact a musician who we interviewed earlier this year also performed at this event due to her studies in Zurich. Midori Komachi is a very gifted young lady whose debut album Colours of the Heart with Simon Callaghan came out in April. At that time she had the following to say:

‘I enjoy having a combination of different kinds of performance platforms, including recitals, chamber music concerts and educational workshops. In recent years, I have developed several concert projects that express the significance of collaborations between artists, and which also explore the historical context that gives a fascinating insight into our understanding of musical work.’

VISUALISE! at Swiss Church really showed her dedication to being involved in a different kind of performance, and alongside fellow musicians Belle Chen on the piano, and Olivia Geiser, also on the piano, it was a really unique concert. Belle Chen is also the organiser behind VISUALISE! and, along with Olivia Geiser, was co-curators for this event entitled ‘Swiss Summer Nights in London.’ Belle Chen has performed around the world and studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London, she has won numerous prizes and is connected to many projects. Olivia Geiser studied at the Zurich University of Arts also studied at the Royal Academy of Music.

The audience members were greeted into the performance area by the sight of mountain like objects which served as the backdrop behind the artistic aspect of this event. The artist Lydia CS created an animated visual video which played out on the back of the church behind the ‘Swiss mountains’ which the objects on the floor represented. Their art worked to recreate the passing of time as a sunny afternoon turned to night. A notable touch was as the day outside turned to night, and our performers reached their ‘night-time’ section the visual artists placed candles across the floors and lit up the musicians with a light.

In terms of music we were treated to Charles Samuel Bovy-Lysberg’s Fantaisie sur des airs Suisses performed by Olivia Geiser, Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending for Violin and Piano performed by Midori Komachi and Belle Chen, Frank Bridge’s Poems for Piano performed by Olivia. After a break we listened to Britten’s  Suite for Violin and Piano, Op. 6 by Midori and Belle, and Volkmar Andreae’s  Piano Pieces, Op. 20 by Olivia. A final piece of music was very interesting for the fact that both pianists played together, which certainly for me was a first! Olivia and Belle performed Hans Huber’s Ländler vom Luzernersee for four hands, Op. 15.

It was a very interesting event, for most people when you picture a classical music concert it would consist of just musicians playing their instruments, which there is nothing wrong with, but it certainly gives it a new angle if you can enjoy a visual performance too. Of course, for a Japan Society writer the highlight was to listen to a performance which included rising starlet Midori Komachi, and in particular The Lark Ascending for Violin and Piano was a really outstanding piece of music to listen to.

We can look forward to future events by VISUALISE! as well as Midori Komachi’s next concert.

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