Take a walk along Adelaide’s North Terrace past the State Library, the South Australian Museum, the Art Gallery of South Australia and the Migration Museum. It’s a cultural boulevard in grand colonial style nestled against the cloisters and campus of the University of Adelaide. Stroll through this seat of learning and endeavour. If it’s been written, drawn or discovered then it’s here.
On the Terrace was a one day mini-festival organised by Adelaide Chamber Music. Pop-up performances were scattered through these august institutions, like living exhibits amidst the books, the artefacts, artworks and installations.
Amongst this cultural activity we found an original vocal work, Lifelines, by Various People Inc in the Pacific Islands gallery of the museum. The beautiful Mortlock Wing of the State Library hosted the Adelaide Baroque Duo of cello and double bass in a vertiginous display of virtuosity, the musicians’ fingerwork chasing each other up and down their instruments at breakneck speed.
Local chamber music promotor The Firm showcased two artists. Solo pianist Michael Ierace played music by Schönberg, Brahms, and Adelaide composer David Kotlowy. Soprano Gianna Guttilla performed Schubert’s Shepherd on the Rock accompanied by piano and clarinet/ all amidst the tomes and treasures of the library.
The most innovative performance we witnessed was by Kegelstatt Ensemble (violin, viola, cello, clarinet and guitar). This took place in the Polar Exploration collection amongst the penguins, pelts, sledges and shacks- the musicians scattered throughout, giving their audience a uniquely immersive and haunting musical experience whilst perusing the exhibits.
On the Terrace added a serious sonic element to a routine visit to the museum precinct with an original and diverse programme that is as sure to attract new audiences as it is to satisfy seasoned concert goers. In these days of restricted travel it felt very European- the closest we have been for some time. Let’s do this again. It’s a lot nearer than Vienna.