Australian Brandenburg Visiting Karakorum: A Musical Journey

ABO Brandenburg Leaders (c) Liz Ham
ABO Brandenburg Leaders (c) Liz Ham
ABO Brandenburg Leaders (c) Liz Ham

Australian Brandenburg Orchestra Leaders, photo © courtesy Liz Ham

At their next concert Karakorum, A Musical Journey to be presented in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane starting July 25, 2018, the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra (ABO) invites all music lovers to ‘cross from west to east, from concert hall to theatre, on a mysterious, cultural and spiritual journey’ through music of grace.

Lacrime best

La Camera Delle Lacrime Ensemble

French medieval folk style ensemble, La Camera delle Lacrime will join the ABO to tell this very special tale, in a performance that dramatizes the musical repertoire with the aim of making it more intelligible’.

Bruno Bonhoure voice, music director, Khaï-dong Luong stage director, scenography, Mokrane Adlani oriental violin, Martin Bauer fiddle, kamanche, Michèle Claude percussion, Yan Li erhu, Christophe Tellart flutes, pipes and hurdy-gurdy, with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra will feature in this extraordinary program.

David Wenham ActorAustralian audiences will experience something very different to what has been seen by European audiences said Paul Dyer recently.

“I wanted to introduce an English narration to guide us through Rubruck’s great journey, and I imagined the voice of David Wenham,” says Paul.

“I’m happy to announce that David Wenham has come on board for this project, which is a dream come true. I’m excited about the chance to collaborate with one of Australia’s great acting talents on such a unique and theatrical project” Paul Dyer said.

This new production of Karakorum La Camera delle Lacrime and Paul Dyer will include five musicians and five singers from the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Choir.

Itinéraire de Guillaume de Rubrouck: route (1253-55)

Itinéraire de Guillaume de Rubrouck: route (1253-55)

The medieval world in Europe had many distinct and imposing influences from the east on its musical life, especially via the Seidenstrassen, or Silk Road. Musically the program follows one man’s quest to convert the fourth Great Khan Mangu, grandson of the famous Ghenghis Khan, to Christianity.

The Silk Road was the name coined by Baron Ferdinand Von Richthofen during the nineteenth century, for the  ancient routes linking Asia and the west. Earlier than this it had also called the Pax Mongolica because for a point in its history, a single power (the Mongols) dominated its length.

Karakorum copy

Ancient site of the city of Karakorum

Mangu or Möngke (1208-1259) believed to be a benevolent man, ruled the Mongolian city of Karakorum from 1251 – 1259. He was the last to base his capital in the city, whose site was buried by the sands of time only to be rediscovered in 1889, while finally being uncovered again 1948-1949.

William Rubreck

William Rubreck with his tinerarium fratris Willielmi de Rubruquis de ordine fratrum Minorum, Galli, Anno gratia 1253 ad partes Orientales

A focus for this musical journey will be the journey by French Friar, William of Rubruck (1220-1293) who during the thirteenth century, twenty years prior to the journey of Marco Polo from Venice, spent three years travelling to the Mongolian Court.  Inside the Great Khan’s court, the monk’s story survived thanks to his manuscript addressed to his King.

When he returned to France, he presented King Louis IX (1214-1270) with a detailed, precise and wonderful account of Mongol traditional culture; Itinerarium fratris Willielmi de Rubruquis de ordine fratrum Minorum, Galli, Anno gratia 1253 ad partes Orientales. 

By the grace of God illustrious King of the French, from Friar William of Rubruck, the meanest in the order of Minor Friars, greetings, and may he always triumph in Christ. It is written in Ecclesiasticus of the wise man: “He shall go through the land of foreign peoples, and shall try the good and evil in all things.”

La Camera delle Lacrime will perform forgotten Buddhist hymns, Mongolian melodies and Sufi chants and much more on an eclectic range of rare instruments.

ceremonial instrument and dress for traditional concert in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Ceremonial instrument and costume for traditional concert in Mongolia

During the thirteenth century, the aim of the composition of music was to connect with the divine whether in the Muslim or Christian tradition, east or west.

Considered a golden period for Sufism, during this time poetry appealed to those who sought happiness through a ritual of dance and soulful music, every line of the music is both rich with depth and meaning.

Mongolian music reflects a nomadic nation, roaming far and wide while being connected with the sounds of nature in the vast drawn out steppes linking landscape and melodies based on the Pentatonic scale.

It has only five notes for either major or minor scale, providing a great starting point for both song writing and improvising.

Page Gregorian Chant

Manuscript Gregorian Chant (Christian Tradition)

Music that relied on oral inheritance also influenced Christian traditions at a time when the correlation between music and architecture existed in Europe and great sacred spaces built of stone reflected the eternal harmony believed present in nature.

Within the bounds of Islamic cultural diversity between Muslim groups, participation in musical performance is still today condoned in some and considered questionable in others

Chant has a long history in both Christian and Islamic religious tradition.

It was a method employed by Muslims to discover the mystical pathway to finding the truth of divine love and knowledge; an inner journey Muslims who choose to embrace Sufism take to find God.

Dervishes - Godbee

Whirling Dervishes captured on stage by Steven Godbee for Australian Brandenburg Orchestra

Both dance and chants are considered beneficial to Muslims whose hearts are pure and while chant is employed by some to discover the pathway, the dervishes of the Mevievi order of Sufism employ whirling.

The religion of Buddhism arrived in Japan from China during the sixth century and combined veneration for the natural world.

There was a general delight in its beauty, which was an outward manifestation of a profoundly held belief and an experienced sense of spirituality. The outward was the vehicle for the inward. Much the same as the Christian definition of a sacrament.

Buddahs Smile 2Buddhism believed supernatural powers controlled fertility, health and weather and could be influenced favourably by the observance of certain rituals.

Holy places were not just man made temples, but could also be found in nature wherever there were remarkable natural features such as a waterfall, large rock, and a towering cliff or, in the beauty of a single splendid tree. All had their own divinity.

Bringing spiritual enlightenment for the Buddhist meant employing different kinds of mantras to work other psychic or spiritual purposes.

One objective was to bring about a profound sense of happiness. This would never be able to be surpassed by the accumulation of monetary wealth and power.

Nature and man harmoniously merged to create a pastoral symphony, a song of love from the heart whose source was nature itself.

Paul Dyer

Australian Brandenburg Leader and Artistic Director Paul Dyer AO, photo © courtesy Liz Ham

Artistic Director of the ABO Paul Dyer AO, promises this haunting show will evoke each of the remote locations on William of Rubruck’s vast trip. Another exciting and unique musical experience not to be missed.

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2018

Australian Brandenburg Orchestra

Karakorum, A Musical Journey

July 25 – August 7, 2018

Dates, Times & Tickets
Sydney | Melbourne | Brisbane


Ay! Deus | Austorg d’Aurillac (1225-1291) – Troubadour Song
La mer de Pont (The Black Sea) – Melody from the Caucasus
Sri Devi Ashtottara Shata Namavalih – Buddhist hymn

Loving the beauty of Layla - Sufi Chant
Pos ancno-us ualc amors | Bertran de Lamanon (1210-1270) – Troubadour Song in Occitan
Ural - melody of the sacred mountain
Miserere mei Deus – Psalm, Gregorian chant
Vexilla Rigis – Gregorian Chant and Muslim call to prayer
Salve Regina – Marian antiphon, Gregorian Chant
Credo in unum Deum - Gregorian Chant
Heart beating in the steppes - Mongolian Chant
Ave Regina Coelorum - Marian antiphon – Gregorian Chant
A solis ortus cardine | Sedulius (c 430) – Gregorian Chant
Tang Tang – Mongolian melody
Chanson à boire (Drinking song) – Mongolian Melody
Veni Sancte Spiritus - Sequence for Pentecost, Gregorian chant
Vision of the Beloved – Sufi chant
The debate at Karakorum | Bruno Bonhoure and Khaï-dong Luong
Veni Veni Emmanuel - ­Gregorian Chant
With hearts high - Melody from Kyrgyzstan

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