AFRODEUTSCHE with Manchester Camerata, Psalms, conducted by Robert Ames, Manchester International Festival MIF23

AFRODEUTSCHE with Manchester Camerata, Psalms, conducted by Robert Ames, Manchester International Festival MIF23

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Posted 2023-07-06 by David Keyworthfollow

Wed 05 Jul 2023

AFRODEUTSCHE with Manchester Camerata, Psalms, conducted by Robert Ames, Manchester International Festival (MIF23).

I last saw Manchester Camerata performing Mozart in the oak-panelled surroundings of the Stoller Hall. The setting was a bit different this time. With its metal rigging and incandescent lighting, it was more akin to a TV studio than a concert hall. That is appropriate enough as Aviva Studios is based where Granada TV were, before ITV’s move to Salford Quays.

With the members of the Camerata in place, AFRODEUTSCHE walked on stage in a red, glinting headdress, sat at the keyboard and played some flowing melodies.

The opening sequence of Psalms featured a song in which the phrase ‘My heart is yours’ was repeated like an incantation. The strings of the Camerata added darker tones to the sweeter side of AFRODEUTSCHE's delivery.

AFRODEUTSCHE with Manchester Camerata conducted by Robert Ames at Aviva Studios © Priti Shikotra.

After the opening few numbers, AFRODEUTSCHE introduced herself and spoke about how the songs were concerned with her faith and were a journey of discovering love and different types of love, informed by her recent autism diagnoses.

The spiritual side of her work was most evident in a spoken-word piece which included the line ‘He alone is my refuge.’ She was joined by an invisible choir, perhaps a heavenly one.

In an attempt to get a handle on how to describe her style, I jotted down names like Portishead, Kate Bush, Philip Glass, Bernard Herrmann, and The Cinematic Orchestra. But when techno beats were added to the mix, I gave up trying to classify the music and just enjoyed the aural cocktail.

Throughout, Manchester Camerata, conducted by Robert Ames, was somehow both in competition and in harmony with AFRODEUTSCHE. Dressed in black and surrounded by electric candles, their presence was integral to the soundscape and not just a musical decoration, or shortcut to classical respectability. The chemistry between all the musicians felt like it had been enhanced by numerous rehearsals.

The moving images on the screen behind the performers ranged from what looked like a train station waiting-foyer or transport hub, to metal gears, to a spinning mask with ever-changing patterns, to a bonfire ceremony. The images added another dimension to the experience but they were not at the heart of it. The music, with its mercurial shifts of style, stood on its own merits. Given the intensity of the performance, its duration just long enough – at 90 minutes.

© Priti Shikotra.

AFRODEUTSCHE - Manchester’s very own polymath DJ, composer and producer - whose work I was not aware of before this show, revealed that she had a long-standing relationship with Manchester International Festival (MIF) – she used to work in guest liaison for them. MIF must be delighted that they recruited her and that she moved from back to front stage and burned so brightly in a concert that was truly original and beguiling.

The Hall, Aviva Studios, Water Street, Manchester, M3 4JQ

Afrodeutsche with Manchester Camerata conducted by Robert Ames.

For more information on Manchester Camerata see their website.

For more MIF23 events and tickets see MIF23 website.

Afrodeutsche. Photo by Pierre Debusschere.

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221401 - 2023-07-02 19:14:40

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