Saturday 4 February 2023

Fountain review (Midsumma Festival)

Returning for its first show in 2023, Forest Collective present Fountain, an orchestral arrangement of pop singer-songwriter Max Lawrence’s music, exploring the fluidity and transient nature in our interactions with our environment and ourselves. Known for bringing together classical chamber music into contemporary settings, Fountain takes us on a strikingly stirring journey on the many forms of love and the emotions that it can elicit.

Lawrence enters the stage wearing a ruched gown-like art piece that as gorgeous as it is to see, feels like a protective barrier for releasing / realising their true self and opening themselves up. This idea is reinforced in the second half, where they wear a two-piece outfit that is more revealing and hugs their body as the music becomes more uplifting and hopeful.

Lawrence performs 19 songs over the evening, a mix of previously released and unreleased work and covers from artists such as Gotye and Perfume Genius, but they all share a running theme on the changing nature of love, identity and environment. The standout tracks are "Float", the first song Lawrence ever finished, a cover of "It's Okay to Cry" by SOPHIE, who tragically died in 2021, and "Icarus", another original song by Lawrence.

Behind most of the musical arrangements in Fountain is Forest Collective’s Artistic Director and conductor Evan J. Lawson, and his skill in bringing together chamber music so seamlessly with pop music to create something astonishingly unique is always impressive and results in a deeply moving experience for the audience. The arrangements by Matt Hirst and Alex Morris not only display their individuality but also the imaginative ability that Forest Collective possesses in its interpretation of what music can be.

Crystals of assorted shapes and size hang from the ceiling, reflecting light and colour, and offering the audience to sit that bit longer with the songs and contemplate how they relate to their own lives. Complementing this design (as well as Lawrence's costumes) is the orchestra, all dressed in various shades of white. They perform with a confidence and enthusiasm as if this is how these songs are supposed to be played. With different combinations of instruments being used for each song, we are constantly treated to innovative and unconventional sounds.

It's been almost twelve months since we attended our last Forest Collective show, Diapsalmata: P o r t r a i t o f a s e l f, which highlighted mental health, identity and growth through the experience of a transgender person. With Fountain, they continue to provide exciting and original performances, and together with Lawrence, have delivered one of the best productions the company has produced in the five years that I been attending their shows. It is truly a privilege to witness such stunningly talented performers come together for an incredible evening of music.

Show Details

Venue: Abbotsford Convent, 1 St. Helliers St, Abbotsford
Season: Until 5 February | Sun 5pm
Duration: 100 mins
$34 Full | $27 Conc
Bookings: Midsumma Festival

Rino Darusman - Synths (guest musician)
Gabe Bethune - Lighting Designer
Kim Tan - Flutes
Helen Bower - Violin, Electric Violin
Ali Fyffe - Saxophones
Ryan Lynch - Clarinets, Saxophones
Zela Papageorgiou - Percussion
Trea Hindley - Trombone
Phoebe Smithies - Horn
Ian Crossfield - Double Bass
Ryan Williams - Recorders
Alex MacDonald - Viola
Tom Sinclair - Cello (guest musician)

Photo credit:
Dan Rabin

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