Blindfolded at the Royal Exchange

The Royal Exchange on a Sunday afternoon.  A very talented Camerata string quartet.  Blindfolds, sandpaper, silk, feather, cocktails and scents in the air.  A multi sensory performance.  This is Challenging the Senses from Manchester Camerata.

A few weeks ago I watched the BBC Philharmonic at the Bridgewater Hall.  Technically superb but lacking in all other senses, especially visually.  There is a real need to add more sensual layers to music.  This event was intriguing.

Five pieces, each with a recommendation to try to mix the music with another sense.  Touch during Shostakovich’s String Quartet no. 8 – sandpaper, feather, silk – was interesting, but it was trial and error as each piece of music progressed through different emotions.  At the interval, taste – a cocktail.  Putting on a blindfold during the Crumb – Black Angels piece intensified the experience but took it into the living room with headphones rather than the stage.  Adding smells to the air was confusing as you only picked it up as you breathed in, forcing your breathing to match the music.  For the final piece, Haydn’s Quartet no. 63 ‘Sunrise’, it was the musicians, the music and the Royal Exchange.  Stunning visually and aurally, with the familiar theatre beautifully lit, this was enough.

20150301_175021This was a fascinating experiment in the use of our senses.  My conclusion?  I don’t think that any of the other senses can effectively combine with the tempo of live music.  Perfection is achieved when combining this quality of sound with an intimate, visually stunning set or location.  It’s the eyes and the ears that win it for me.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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