(4 / 5)
That is what we are all coveting right now, isn’t it? To be transported to a world devoid of distractions, anxiety, and exhaustion – even for just a couple of hours. I was lucky enough to find a welcome slice of escapism thanks to the talents of contemporary classical music ensemble UPROAR’s latest production, Scenes From A Street.
Now, full disclosure. I am not a classical music expert. Nor have I ever claimed to be. However, I do champion anyone who wants to break barriers and make the arts an ever expanding and inclusive space. UPROAR’s claim to seek ‘new ways to break down the fears and misconceptions about new music’ had me instantly intrigued. Fear and misconception are words that are easily equated to artistic practices like contemporary classical, due to many people (myself included) feeling as though they can’t engage because they lack knowledge. This promising welcome from UPROAR gave me the confidence to take that leap and give myself over to the classical world for the evening.
Scenes From A Street consists of works from five composers based in Wales, each presenting a piece which captures UPROAR’s ethos of bringing ‘contemporary classical music into the heart of everyday culture’ – a phrase we don’t hear often enough. Again, there is no prerequisite here to be an aficionado of classical. If anything, having little prior knowledge presents the experience in its truest form, allowing full immersion in the musical story.
Each piece provided a unique sound and style, instantly transporting the mind to various locations, scenes and scenarios. The entire experience is one that initiates all the senses and emotions, resulting it a truly unique experience and allowing the audience to really feel what is played out in front of them. From states of calm and innocence to unsettling doses frenzy and panic; if you are looking for a way to allow your brain to switch off from worldly distractions, Scenes From A Street provides this with ease. Immersion and escapism were particularly present in Guto Pryderi Puw’s ‘Popping Candy’ – a beautiful ode to the delightful fizzy fun found in the nostalgia of the popular childhood treat. It was especially lovely (and skilful) to present the audience with their own pack of popping candy at interval, taking the immersive musical experience to new levels and allowing us to create our own crackling composition while awaiting the next musical morsel.
Of course, the skill of the composers shines through that of the musicians tasked with breathing life into their work. There is nothing quite like witnessing an ensemble lost in the rapture of a skilfully crafted piece of music. It is almost bewitching to bear witness to the passion, enthusiasm and connection each musician has to the works they are performing. A truly joyous and moving experience and each member of UPROAR’s ensemble deserves the highest ovation. A special word of commendation is also directed to the wonderful staff at RWCMD – extremely welcoming, helpful and knowledgeable, which is never to be underestimated.
All in all, to the untrained ear of contemporary classical like myself, UPROAR’s Scenes From A Street will feel wildly new – but that is exactly what they set out to achieve. Although it can feel daunting at times I would highly recommend, regardless of your musical persuasions, to give yourself over to the music and allow any fears and misconceptions of contemporary classical to escape. You never forget your first, and I’ll never forget my first evening with UPROAR.