Last week the Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) gathered a crowd at Young Henrys’ brewery to tease their upcoming Indies & Idols tour. This tour juxtaposes tradition and progression, showcasing the classical works of Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood, The National’s Bryce Dessner and singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens. It was only sensible that the first stop in a tour that blurs stylistic and genre conventions should be in an Newtown brewery.
It was quite the sight, seeing such a lauded quartet standing comfortably in the centre of the bar, donning casual clothes while holding multi-thousand dollar instruments. Even more so to see people willingly departing from their coveted bar stools.
The performance was all about duality, which was evident through the choice of composers and the programming. A Bach string quartet kicked off the concert, before moving into Bryce Dessner’s Réponse Lutosławski. The subsequent movements of the Bach were weaved throughout the Greenwood compositions, including Suite from There Will Be Blood and Stevens’s Suite from Run Rabbit Run, arranged by Michael Atkinson. perfectly juxtaposing the old and the new, while maintaining a seamless character throughout.
Onlookers could whet their palates at the bar before and after the performance, with their regular assortment of craft beers and ciders, plus a tasty gin and tonic with thyme and orange.
Angel Place is the ACO’s home venue, and the choice to host the event at Young Henrys was unexpected but strategic, continuing with the theme of binaries evident throughout the performance. While the brewery has always been a stomping ground for emerging talent in the Inner West, classical tunes are a new score for the inner west institution. Conversely, the ACO typically attracts an older demographic, many who exclusively follow the orchestra. In this dichotomy, a new audience is exposed to music that bucks the tired old cliché that convention must be boring.
The ACO’s encore – a Danish drinking song – was the perfect way to end the event. The lively piece laid some common ground, letting the audience know that classical music and the ACO are not boring or stuffy but genuinely fun. So, raise your glasses and give a cheery skål, to a city where breweries and Bach go hand in hand.
The ACO will be touring Indies and Idols between June 14-29. Book your tickets here: https://www.aco.com.au/whats_on/event_detail/indies-and-idols-2019