By Arne Sjostedt
Katie Noonan and the Australian String Quartet, with Kaleenah Edwards
The Playhouse, the Canberra Theatre Centre, Saturday 9 November
An enriching performance where Katie Noonan and her tribe of musicians met each song with artful presence and skillful craft.
Following a welcome to country, which set the tone of the evening and brought to the front of mind how ancient and connected our First People’s culture really is — Noonan and the Australian String Quartet joined the stage. They were accompanied by Kaleenah Edwards, who is the great grand-daughter of Oodgeroo Noonuccal, the poet whose works had been set to music for this rare and special musical and cultural occasion.
Before each song, Edwards stood to the left of the stage and delivered her great-grandmother’s poetry in the Jandai language from Quandamooka country, which had been translated from the English it had been originally written in.
This brought a sense of reverence and sacredness to the event, a tone that pervaded the compositions Noonan delivered with the quartet.
The songs were often highly technical compositions, which made Noonan’s voice a fifth member of the quartet. Instruments and voice danced together, the rich cello and Noonan’s voice at one moment resonating in harmony, next her titling melody lines weaving between the violins and viola.
Working carefully to articulate every nuance of the work she had been provided for this project, Noonan and company delivered a faultless show, and the energy in the theatre was uplifted and finely tuned to what was happening on stage.
The evening also included a number of compositions played by the quartet while Edwards and Noonan were off stage.
While all the compositions were respectful and beautiful and at times challenging, perhaps one of the best moments of the evening came from a song Noonan had set herself.
Here she gave herself the opportunity to roam through her range, reliving delicate and emotional moments that immediately reminded fans of how good a songwriter she has always been.
Katie Noonan and the Australian String Quartet play their final show at 6pm tonight at the Forum in Melbourne. Details at bandsintown.com
Gig gallery: Katie Noonan and the Australian String Quartet
Photos by Andrew Moore