Passing Wind

Hawkins Theatre, Papakura, Auckland

09/03/2011 - 09/03/2011

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland

12/03/2011 - 13/03/2011

Paramount, Wellington

14/03/2011 - 26/03/2011

Auckland Arts Festival 2011

Capital E National Arts Festival

Production Details

Enter the imaginative world of instrument maker Linsey Pollak, where clarinets made of dusters and carrots, and flutes made from irrigation pipes create magical and funky music for the whole family.

Passing Windshares Pollak’s passion for the unusual, as he takes the audience on a guided tour of his ingenious world, inhabited by instruments made from the most unexpected of materials. Adults and kids alike will be astounded by Pollak’s ingenuity as, before their eyes, he transforms balloons and rubber gloves into an instrument dubbed ‘The Foonki’ and introduces ‘Mr Curly’, a contra-bass clarinet made from garden hose.

Groovy beats and cool rhythms provide backing for Pollak’s wind instrument creations. The result is a fantastic musical experience which will open your children’s eyes to the possibilities of everyday objects.

Recommended for ages 8 and up.
50 mins, no interval

Hawkins Theatre
Wed 9 March, 6.30pm, 0800 842 538

Herald Theatre
12 – 13 March, 11am & 1pm, 09 357 3355 or 0800 289 842

Workshop: Musical Instrument Making with Linsey Pollak
Saturday 12 March, 2:30pm – 3:30pm   

Passing Wind
Paramount Theatre, 25 Courtenay Place
Mon 14 – Fri 18 and Mon 21 – Fri 25 March, 10am, 11.30am and 1.15pm as available, call Capital E to confirm on 913 3740
Saturday 26 March, 11.30pm 
Bookings: Capital E 04 913 3740
Tickets: $16.50 each or $33.00 each for 3 shows   

Inspired and kooky educative experience for kids and adults

Review by Hannah Smith 15th Mar 2011

The things that Linsey Pollak can do with a rubber tube are genuinely amazing.

In this 45 minute show, the self styled “instrument inventor” takes us on a musical journey in which he demonstrates how one can make a plethora of musical instruments out of common household objects. If something is hollow and has some holes in it, Linsey will pass wind through it with surprising results. Over the course of the show he blows a watering can, a feather duster, even a carrot – and, of course, our minds.

Starting with the fairly simple balloon and garden hose, the instruments increase in complexity and cover an incredible range of sounds. Linsey constructs many of them before our eyes; with the others that he has prepared earlier he explains the means of construction to us. Sounds are recorded and looped through a mixing board and form the backing track for further solos. This allows for some rich and satisfying tunes.

The kids are really into it. They writhe with glee, laugh uproariously, and are dead keen to volunteer to be involved. An impromptu mosh pit forms at the front of the stage and Linsey, knowing what his crowd is after, obligingly plays us some funky beats on a 2m garden hose named “Mr Curly”. 

A surprise highlight is when he pulls out a carrot planning to hollow it out and attach a saxophone mouthpiece. The entire Paramount theatre full of children start chanting “Eat It! Eat It! Eat It!” and, after playing the carrot, Linsey obligingly has a munch. The crowd goes wild. The boy sitting next to me slides off his seat onto the floor crying with laughter and muttering “He’s eating it. He’s eating it.” I think it is safe to say no one has ever caused so much laughter and applause just by eating a carrot.

It is an educative experience, a really kooky lecture, and I am sure that many will walk away inspired to try making music from casual household implements. Plenty of entertainment for both kids and adults. Recommended. 
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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Inspiring musical inventiveness

Review by Sian Robertson 10th Mar 2011

Linsey Pollak is an unassuming man who doesn’t covet the limelight very much and is quite unremarkable – until he gets a musical instrument in his hands (or the ingredients for one), then he’s in his element.

Passing Wind focuses on wind instruments and how they work, several of which he makes during the show, using household items such as rubber gloves, garden hose, aluminium pipe, electrical tape, garbage bags, irrigation pipe.

He starts off simple, demonstrating and explaining how a balloon makes a sound when the air is let out through the stretched neck. Next he moves on to a piece of hose attached to a balloon neck, then two pieces joined by a balloon neck, and so on. All of this he makes in front of us in a matter of seconds, and then plays it to show us how it sounds. We are already gob-smacked and delighted, but there’s much more to come.

Some of the instruments are pre-made, as they are a bit more involved, and he tells us what the components are and how it works. There is one made out of two clear plastic irrigation pipes, one inside the other, with a piece of rubber glove forming a membrane ‘reed’, and finger holes. He calls it a “foonki”. It makes an amazing sound. There’s one like a slide trombone, which is similar but with a ‘slide’ (plastic tube) instead of finger holes. He shows us a haunting harmonic flute made from nothing but a piece of aluminium pipe. 

The music he plays on these DIY wind instruments is quite eclectic – in terms of genre as well as ethnic origin. He plays us something traditionally Turkish on one of his garden hose pipes; plays a very Andean sounding panpipe; briefly describes the various different versions of bagpipes from all over the world and plays an Estonian tune on his own set. Linsey is clearly very knowledgeable about the construction of traditional wind instruments as well as being able to resourcefully improvise.

He has a loop effects unit, so that he can demonstrate what it sounds like when you put them all together, recording different rhythms and harmonies on each instrument and layering them one at a time. He demonstrates how you can simply trim a bit off the end of your panpipe to make it play a different note, or add an extra finger hole or two to your ‘clarini’, adding all this to the loop recorder as he goes.

He explains quite clearly the basic principle of each instrument as he’s making it on stage in front of us, without going into too much technical detail, so the information is accessible for both children and adults. It’s very illuminating, and also has me rethinking my approach to music – demystifying it a bit and also making so much more seem possible.

I resolved before the end of the show that I would definitely try this at home. I thought I’d start simple with some panpipes but my 8-year-old son insists we make a ‘Mr Curly’: a contra-bass clarinet made from two metres of garden hose with finger holes, wound around a piece of water pipe, with a saxophone mouthpiece. Very cool. Many of the instruments are based on traditional ones, and some are Pollak’s own invention. 

Pollak in no way lets the quirkiness of the instruments take precedence over the music itself. I was expecting the focus to be on silly sound effects for a laugh and perhaps some simple tunes. In fact, the music he plays on stage is beautiful, sometimes breath-taking. His bagpipes sound like the real thing. I must confess I have a weakness for bagpipes, such that they make me weep every time I hear them. So it was strange and a little bit embarrassing to find myself moved to tears by a man in a crocheted beanie playing a brightly coloured kitchen glove and a couple of bits of hose. Pollak is a very skilled musician as well as being an inventive one. 

There are a few comedy pieces, such as a watering can clarinet, a camping chair that he unexpectedly picks up and plays like a flute and a feather duster flute. The carrot clarinet was the biggest crowd-pleaser, which he fashioned while we watched, with the use of a ruler, an electric drill and a vegetable peeler. 

There’s a question-and-answer session at the end, and also a few opportunities for audience volunteers to go up and try out recording loops on the effects unit. Pollak is approachable and good at explaining how everything works, encouraging us to steal his ideas.

The audience was very small at the Hawkins Theatre, which made for a pleasantly intimate first night. This weekend’s shows are at the Herald, which will hopefully draw a larger crowd, because I recommend going along if you have a musical bone in your body, or if you have a little one who’s learning an instrument. It’s the value for money out of anything I’ve seen in the festival so far, and quite inspiring. 
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.   


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