BATS Theatre, The Propeller Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

26/02/2016 - 28/02/2016

NZ Fringe Festival 2016 [reviewing supported by WCC]

Production Details

A venture into four extraordinary worlds of sound and all the spaces in-between.  

Violinist takes looping to a whole new level in NZ premiere.

“Lost in the Looping Glass takes the notion of a solo violin recital and flips it on its head… a thrilling re-imagining of sonic capabilities of the violin that makes for an enrapturing performance.” – Matthew Tomich, Buzzcuts, Melbourne Fringe 2015

Take one very old and traditional instrument, several pieces of modern technology and a girl with a passion for getting completely lost in the music and you’ll find you can step into a land of loops and echoes; a place where not everything is as it seems. An original show for violin and live electronic looping, the NZ premiere of “Lost in the Looping Glass” will transport you effortlessly from one world to the next in an intricate and precarious dance of rhythm, melody and sound.

Watch as Bower moves from one loop pedal to the next and back again to create, explore and fall head first into a multitude of musical worlds, where the violin becomes so much more than it first appears. Or simply leave the day at the door, close your eyes and lose yourself in an acoustic wonderland as it emerges, evolves and unravels around you.

“When was the last time you heard a violin become the sounds of the forest, or a storm on the ocean?” asks Bower. “I am taken to incredible places, imagine stories and characters and feel such strong emotions when I play or listen to music. I wanted to share that experience with others through my own performance” she explains.

This exciting sequel to the 2014 award-nominated fringe show, “Through the Looping Glass” has been created by international violinist and sound artist Helen Bower in collaboration with Melbourne composer Charles MacInnes. It further explores the use of live electronic looping in contemporary classical music and discovers how that music can translate into an exciting and immersive experience for the audience. The performance features compositions from local and international composers.

“Lost in the Looping Glass” performed by Helen Bower, can be seen as part of NZ Fringe Festival 2016, at BATS Theatre from 26-28 February 2016.

VENUE: The Propeller Stage at BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Tce
DATES: 26th, 27th, 28th February 2016
TIME: 6:30pm
TICKETS: $18 / $14 / Fringe Addict Cardholders $12 / Free Fringe Artist Standby
Book online at www.bats.co.nz , or call (04) 802 4175

“She very intimately brings you into her world, where you can happily let yourself go to the labyrinth of sounds.” – Erwan B, The Plus Ones, Melbourne Fringe 2015.

“Bower has completely given herself over to the music.” – Myron My, Theatre Press, Melbourne Fringe 2015.

Theatre , Musical ,

1 hr

An absorbing otherworld

Review by Lena Fransham 27th Feb 2016

Helen Bower has experimented for two years with violin and looping station, and her explorations have morphed through a series of incarnations into Lost in the Looping Glass, in collaboration with Melbourne composer Charles McInnes.

The first step into the Looping Glass world is ‘4 Miniature Loop Compositions’ by Max Perryment: an easy, seductive entry beginning with a keening note which she then retrieves on a loop by touching her toe to the pedal. Into this foundation sound she folds accenting notes, pizzicato and percussive tapping which in turn replicate themselves in a building dialogue with her instrument. There’s a lullaby effect induced by the rhythmic repetition of the looping which eases the way down this disorienting rabbit hole.

In the second work, ‘Landscapes: I. Storm & II. Birds’ (Grace Huie Robbins), shushing dampened strings and birdlike notes form the basis of another layered construction highly evocative of its title. Bower skitters the bow over the strings, scrapes behind the bridge, coaxes sound from it in every way imaginable.

These first two works are fascinating in their construction, but the third is where it gets really interesting. Charles McInnes’ ‘Wall Fragments’ features a spoken introduction that places its conception at a turning point in world history. A loud backdrop of plunks and creaks augments the anxiety of the discordant tones building in the foreground, the chorus of groaning double stops; there’s a sense of the epic in it, something enormous unfolding.

The fourth composition, ‘The Clockwork Owls’ (Ade Vincent) offsets the unease of ‘Wall Fragments’with a mournful opening melody. A building interplay of percussive loops and exquisitely-timed embellishments gives it the swagger and pathos of a gypsy dance. 

It’s not possible to convey the absorbing otherworld of the performance. Bower is a child playing with a fabulous toy, turning it over and over, testing and pushing its possibilities as far as they will go. Everything is admissible. She makes you want to join in. When the lights go up, she’s beaming, just as rapturous as our applause.  


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