human requiem

human requiem
By Johannes Brahms. Adelaide Festival. Rundfunkchor Berlin. Staged by Jochen Sandig and Sasha Waltz & Guests. Ridley Centre. March 14 – 18, 2018

human requiem (no capital letters) was the most amazing way to finish off the 2018 Adelaide Festival. This was the counterweight to delving the depths with warring kings, revengeful brothers and murderous uncles.

The examination of the human condition continued in the music of The German Requiem by Brahms, which takes its listeners on a journey that reminds us that we are mortal and will therefore die.

There is grief, that this is so, followed by gratitude for the life lived and acceptance that death is part of life, wonder and joy.  

human requiem reminded everyone there that beauty and creativity are also part of being human.

Rundfunkchor Berlin did not offer this music in a concert setting. There was no stage or seating. In human requiem we were all equal, shoeless, chair-less and together in a room. And then the lights went down and the singing started. It seemed to start from just over my shoulder. The beautiful purity of the human voice was surrounding me and it came from all parts of the auditorium. A shiver of appreciation ran up my spine and my shoulders came down as I relaxed into the experience.

There were no program notes, no translations or interpretations offered, just the music in its purest most blissful form, human voices and a piano with two pianists. The sounds wove around us, above us as we sat on the floor, against us when the singers aligned themselves in rows down the centre of the room and swung backwards and forwards, up and down as the singers were pushed on swings in towards each other, and then drawn backwards again over the heads of the audience.

The audience moved, followed, sat and walked with the singers and at the end we clapped and clapped and clapped. This was the most immersive, meditative and mentally transporting musical experience I have ever had. It was wonderful.

Sally Putnam

Photographer: Stephanie Berger

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