Live review: Muscle Memory

Music and dance in the Brisbane Powerhouse



Restrung Festival 2017
Muscle Memory: Reflex
Brisbane Powerhouse, 19 August


What’d you miss?

  • Menacing trills
  • Energetic dancing to Kats-Chernin music
  • A feast for the eyes and ears


With graffiti on the walls, steel beams across the ceiling, and an urban, contemporary feel like no other, the Brisbane Powerhouse was the perfect venue for 2017’s Restrung Festival. It was a three-day exploration of the blur between genres, and the possibilities that arise when classical music meets rock, electronica, minimalism, jazz, and even dance. Exciting is an understatement.

Presented in collaboration with Collusion Productions, Muscle Memory: Reflex was not your average chamber music concert. Rather than being about the music alone, Reflex was also a performance of two new contemporary ballets by Australian choreographer Gareth Belling, each set to pieces for string quartet. The first, Before, is set to the haunting melodies of Peteris Vasks’ String Quartet no. 4, and the second, Contact Point, responds to Elena Kats-Chernin’s works, From Anna Magdelena’s Notebook, Blue Silence, and Fast Blue Village.

With a formidable string quartet made up of Benjamin Greaves (violin), Camille Barry (violin), Bethan Lewis (viola), and Dan Curro (cello), the music did not disappoint. From the first menacing trills of Vasks’ string quartet, listeners seemed immediately drawn in. And, equally convincing, the Kats-Chernin pieces were played with vibrancy and an impressive rhythmic verve. To top it off, being able to watch the dancers meant that this was a feast for the ears and for the eyes. The enticing melodies of the Vasks were brought to life through emotive twists and turns; while stronger, energetic movements captured the spirit of Kats-Chernin.

Though it may seem obvious that music and dance go hand-in-hand, this often goes unnoticed by many in the classical music world. And when I say ‘many’, I’m definitely putting myself on the top of that list. It’s not every day  a concert so cleverly intertwines dance and chamber music, and Reflex was an eye-opening experience.

So next time you get the chance, add something different to your concert calendar such as music with dance. Who knows, you might discover something new about the music you love. And for that, too, exciting is an understatement.


Image supplied.


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