Combine a rock band’s penchant for the spectacular with Monty Python-esque improvised skit comedy and ‘serious’ classical music played seriously well on cello, double bass and guitar, and you’ve got something close to the madness, inspiration and hilarity of this weekend’s ‘Bach to Bass-ics’ classical music comedy show.
This unlikely event will take place in West End’s grassroots coffee house start-up, Bass Espresso, tonight (Saturday 12 July). When co-founder Dr Dale Rickert was asked how the unusual idea came about, he said that the concept actually grew completely naturally and only came to fruition two weeks ago.
“Me and my mate Chloe-Ann Williamson, the bass player, were working with one of our friends Louise King up on the Sunshine Coast for a new chamber orchestra she’s starting,” Dale says. “Chloe ended up staying at my parents’ place up in the Sunshine Coast hinterland and almost inevitably, a few bottles of wine, boredom, a beautiful setting and a weekend with nothing but our instruments to amuse us led us to spending most of the weekend drinking and playing improvised chamber music. We both love to have a laugh and egged on a bit by the wine, we started teasing each other as we played.
“By the end of the weekend it became clear to both of us that amidst the slightly inebriated madness was a touch of genius that we just had to use in a show. Three days later and I’d been in contact with my friend Glenn Holiday, who owns Bass Espresso in West End, and we’d booked a concert for one and a half week’s time. While I’d usually be terrified of such a short lead-up for a normal classical concert, because our focus is on having an awesome time and we plan to drink our way through the concert, it’s taken the pressure off, and I’d have to say that in my life thus far as a classical musician, I’ve never looked forward to a concert more.”
The backgrounds of the musicians are interesting in themselves. Dr Rickert is a classical cellist who prides himself on his diversity, having worked with mainstream artists including The Cat Empire, Paul Kelly and The Whitlams, as well as mainstay classical music institutions including the Queensland Symphony Orchestra (QSO), The Sydney Camerata and in Europe, the Stuttgarter Symphoniker and the Florentina Consort Chamber Orchestra.
Chloe and guitarist John Robertson both play with Brisbane world-music band Mzaza, with Chloe also performing with QSO and the Camerata of St. John. Guitarist John takes his musical background from the flamenco tradition.
“It’s funny how something can be on the tip of everyone’s tongue but it takes the right circumstances, the right people and a little bit too much wine for everything to line up,” Chloe says. “I’ve always wanted to add a comedic element to classical music and Dale’s been banging on about the stuffiness of the classical music audience for years. The irony is that we’ve played together in various ensembles for 10 years now but it took this long for us to actually sit down together and play chamber music. Now we actually get to put our ideas into practise and as a bonus we get to perform together and have a whole lot of fun.”
John took a little convincing, but soon came on board wholeheartedly. “I got this call from a guy I’d met a few times at some of our Mzaza gigs and heard he was a good player, although I was a bit nervous that he was planning a concert at short notice and I really needed to rehearse. Reading scores and strict arrangements aren’t my strong point but it was a pleasant surprise when we actually got to play and Dale says to me: ‘Here are some recordings, here’s the notes but as soon as you know the pieces I want you to make up your own parts and improvise whenever you like.’ That approach won me over. I thought: ‘Yep… this is going to be my kind of concert.’”
Whether or not this strange mix of comedy, classical music and improvisation will be to the taste of everyone, this show should be an interesting spectacle and something not be missed if you are free this weekend and looking for something to do in West End.
The event starts with dinner – cooked in combination by co-hosts Dale Rickert and café owner Glenn Holiday – which is a set Brazilian style menu at $20 a head and the free concert begins at 7:15. The event is BYO and as an added bonus, Glenn and Dale have decided to put up free coffee for everyone who attends and hope to see a diverse and excited crowd for this ‘one of a kind’ show.
For more info, head to the event’s Facebook page.