Imagine a perfect autumn day, a cloudless sky, a not-too-vigorous breeze. Settle yourself in an outdoor amphitheatre, looking through the sound shell to a lagoon lavish with waterlilies, a gentle green hill and tall eucalypts. Then add a day of world class music of stunning diversity, and you have some sense of the Four Winds festival.
Imagine the Gondwana Chorale, mostly a capella, who manage at one point to sing something very close to silence. The Shakuhatchi, that breathy instrument that takes you to a mysterious world as its player’s neck tendons stretch tauter and tauter with the effort of seeming effortless. The koto (at one point two kotos) which has the diminutive player dancing above the strings. A cello quartet, multiplying that special resonance that seemed to satsify with one cello. Didgeridoos, solo and duet, William Barton’s mother keening and his fingers telling a very funny story across the instrument. The classical accordion (NOT to be confused with the squeeze box!) playing Scottish music with the recorder at speeds beyond belief and then Britten, Rameau and Haydn.
The program? Familiar pieces like Pictures at an exhibition played in unfamiliar ways; unfamiliar pieces like De profundis written for the accordian by Sofia Gubaidulina; and pieces specially commissioned for the festival.
The music ends. Reflections in the lagoon deepen, waterlilies close, and the evening shadows stretch across the amphitheatre.