The Medieval Monk, David Wenham

Rebecca Varidel
27th Jul 2018

"You never know what you will get with the Australian Brandenburg" a friend said after the show.

"One thing you do know for sure, it will be brilliant" I replied "but yes totally, the performance is always a surprise."

Karakorum (the title of the performance) was the capital of the Mongol Empire between 1235 and 1260, and of the Northern Yuan in the 14–15th centuries.

At the opening night of Karakorum, with hands clasped and measured paces, a monk slowly meandered onto the stage to begin the show with his spoken introduction.

Narrator David Wenham, through the diaries of Christian monk William of Rubruck created the path for our medieval musical journey.

Medieval instruments kamanche, erhu, violin, flutes, hurdy-gurdy, cornamuse, with voice embraced us from Leaving Home (from Constantinople, Palm Sunday 13 April 1253), across Travelling Through A Strange Land to arrival at Batu Kahn. And throughout this visiting French La Camera delle Lacrime provided sacred magic from the Troubadour song sung in Occitan, a melody from Caucasus, an extract from a Buddhist hymn of the 108 names of the goddess Durga, through Sufi chant, melody of the sacred Ural mountain, Gregorian chant Lenten Psalm, a Christian hymn with Muslim Call to Prayer, until the final Christian Salve Regina and melody from Kyrgyzstan.

I myself have travelled the Old Silk Road, fascinated by the wealth of knowledge and of art in that era, the vast richness in lost history. I've also travelled a path of questioning, exploring spirituality and different beliefs.

Karakorum was perhaps the most pronounced exploration of both music and belief I have encountered, beheld, embraced. The richness in diverse music and beliefs brought together at City Recital Hall Sydney by La Camera della Lacrime in collaboration with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, is in itself, an ancient wonder of the modern world.

"We believe that there is only one God. But as God has given to the hand several fingers, in the same way he has given to men several pathways."