Performance Review on "Aquasonic" at New Vision Arts Festival

28 Dec 2018 | Ashley

In late October, the New Vision Arts Festival was still on. I saw a show called "Aquasonic" at the Sha Tin Town Hall Auditorium. Usually, in this auditorium or any musical concerts played at town halls, the audience would be people who know classical music and are formally dressed. However, this time around, the type of audience going in was different. There were a lot of children, people were dressed very casually. Some people came in groups, like a group of friends or family members. Basically, it felt like the show had a lot of expectations for fun. Unfortunately, it was something else.

Performance set, photo taken after the show

What attracted me to this show at first, I think the same for other people in the audience, was that an orchestra was going to play underwater. This sole idea was extremely intriguing and tempting. It screams innovation and excitement. However, despite the group, Between Music (Denmark)'s new way of playing music, the atmosphere during the performance was far from exciting. It was rather phantasmic, mysterious, static, and dreary. I personally like to listen to the muffles of the water and opera singing voices that resemble sirens but this is not for everybody, let alone the children. Still, even for me, the performance was not enough. It did not seem to have a climax at all and ended in a way that felt incomplete. I walked out of that auditorium, confused, unsatisfied.

Display at Sha Tin Town Hall

I think the major problem is the lack of movement of the musicians who were playing inside the tanks of their own. This sounds like an eye-opening sight, which it was at the beginning, but when it went on for an hour and the lights were dim, and the glass and the water blurred the sight of what was behind, there really were not many visuals we could count on. Even though the musicians were using unusual musical instruments which I had no knowledge of, no one could see them exactly. Therefore, I would say that the performance was visually non-stimulating, musically luring but failed to give a climax or a direction. If the idea was to only present an audio experience, I would rather they make the performance an installation. It would be much nicer if the audience could actually walk around the tanks while they play, look closely at what they are doing, and even move to the music. Plainly sitting and looking at the lack of movement only put people to sleep.

When I got out of the auditorium, I heard a lot of people chitchatting about how "it was a fun idea but...". I totally get what they are feeling. I guess we all expected something different. Again, I do like the idea of playing music underwater, but I would much rather the performance be a lot more interactive than how it was.

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