Sleep With Giovanni
Presenting choral pieces to an audience lying down in pitch blackness is the Giovanni Consort’s contribution to FRINGE WORLD and it works really well.
Having chosen a yoga mat and cushion, been briefed and given a demonstration of how to lie on the floor, blindfolds were slipped on.
Note that any visual observations from this point are because I peeked – just for accuracy of reporting of course – and then only briefly.
The singers filed into a central circle of fairy lights and then we were carried away by the music – not seeing made the sound all the more vivid.
The young troupe (four women and five men) can clearly all sing and the high wood-panelled ceilings of Burt Hall at the Cathedral precinct created nice acoustics which showcased the delightful harmonies.
At times it was hard to believe there was no amplification given the level of sound.
Mostly the singers stayed central to their supine blindfolded audience but occasionally movement (given away by creaking floorboards) allowed the creation of an aural spatial variation.
The range of choral music presented was wide, some over 600 years old, some written much more recently.
One piece involved bird sounds and rain sounds and various other acoustic devices, another piece was akin to a Gregorian chant, but all were beautifully delivered.
That none of the pieces were familiar to me or others in the audience mattered not.
The 40-minute performance went too quickly and adjusting to light and moving around again was like emerging from a particularly successful relaxation at the end of a yoga class.
One small criticism would be that the darkness of the blindfold would be aided by the cycle of natural light and a later start time than 7pm would help.
Despite the title, you wouldn’t sleep because the music was too powerful, but lying back in comfort and embracing it was enchanting.
And don’t be put off by the level of sophistication, this is definitely fringe, but genteel fringe for the bohemian music lover.