The Latin Gypsy Experiment
reviewed by Stuart Hille
Jessica Ipkendanz, has managed to ‘create’ a type of fusion music – Latin American/Romany that, without doubt, will become widely popular and, probably, quite lucrative. It works successfully, not just by the quality of the performance and the obvious accomplishment of the performance, but also by the ‘je ne sais quoi’ ambience that trawls a wide cross-section of community tastes and ages. While the style of the music is somewhat too accessible for this reviewer, it was, nevertheless, a privilege, on this occasion to leave satisfied with the unusually happy confidence that this particular musical/cultural fusion is destined to go places (and not just nationally).
However, salutations aside, this concert revealed the urgent need to engage the service of a top-flight manager. Someone of the experience and visionary calibre of Lynne Schwan or Lynne Burford, would have foreseen and circumvented, with a deft hand, the problems that arose on this occasion.
There were unnecessary encumbrances, before and during this recital, that need to be highlighted here for the benefit of the performers and the education of the audience. An advertised 8:30pm start is considered late, but isn’t a 30 minute delay – as there was on this occasion pushing boundaries a little too far? Moreover, the bar should be closed at least 5 minutes prior to the concert so patrons can take their seats. The seating arrangements should optimistically take into account a maximum audience volume to avoid people standing at the back of the performance space (or still waiting at the bar!). Furthermore, a better venue, unfettered by the surrounding traffic and people noises on a busy Fremantle night, should be found. Programme notes must be provided because an audience needs some sort of information on what is on offer and, most essentially, amplification should only be used if it enhances – not sharpens or piques – the aural experience. An accomplished manger knows how to negotiate these issues.
Amplification imbalance created some harmonic unevenness throughout the concert. Ipkendanz’s co-performers – Marco Quiroz and Gabriel Segovia – gave excellent support but were muted by using free-standing microphones as opposed to the contact microphone (at least I think it was, from the back of the auditorium) on the violin.
In fact, acoustical electronic strengthening is inconsistent or antithetical to the nature of this music. The essence of such, essentially, is one of spontaneous, robust expression and therefore, amplification should only be used if it has some sort of creative, assessed with careful thought, practical enhancement.
Nevertheless, Ms Ipkendanz and her co-performers shone. Collectively, they displayed spirit, technical prowess and enthusiasm.
Ipkendanz shows confident and well-executed virtuosity. Her double-stopping, smooth change of register and general bow technique are impeccable, but there is a need to address rapid pizzicati (an essential element of this fusion) and properly turned ornamentation.
Off-loading the annoying dance couple at the side of the audience, removing amplification, presenting a wider scope of contrasting styles and employing a focussed manager (the key element) will assure this imaginative project a secure future.