Australian Youth Orchestra Momentum Ensemble’s performance of A Mega Masquerade

Posted on April 19, 2024

SoundsLikeSydney, 12 May 2024, John Wu

…wild megafauna rage and squat, dance and jive. The opening movement, Prehistory reminded me of a wonky revisioning of 2001: A Space Odyssey in every good way. Vines has started an epic adventure… 

The second movement, A Pouch Lion Ponders features scratchy colours, followed by a peaceful aura, ending with a dissonant strike. I feel like the prey that the marsupial lion is hunting, or perhaps I am one of the cubs fighting for it. This is nicely contrasted by the bassoon melody in the fifth movement, Murray Gets A Lickin’ which is measured and peaceful. This evokes the animal in question – a giant echidna – wobbling around, minding its own business as it goes for a drink.

Movement ten, The Demon Duck of Doom is the fan favourite of the night. The outstanding feature is the use of rubber ducks for a welcome change to the classical timbre of the orchestra, most notable being during the tremolos which I colloquially refer to as “DUCK ATTACK!!!” I am reminded of the terrifying stories of Australian ostriches chasing down poor souls, or maybe even a scenario of Donald the Duck being reimagined in the way they did Winnie in Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey. Grim.

The last movement I will cover is the sixteenth, Thylacine’s Lament. I particularly enjoy the rising and falling semitone idea, Using a sommelier metaphor, gives notes of the opening movement of Dvorak’s Requiem on the ear. It is a very suitable penultimate movement, honouring the most recently extinct megafauna and also setting up a grand concluding movement…

What an honour to have witnessed this spectacle!