There could not be a more captivating start to a performance than Yao Dancewhich not only depicted the theme of the night, Traces and Transformations,but set the tone of what was to come.

Like the Australian Festival of Chamber Music’s opening nightconcert, it began in complete darkness, the sound of the gong and bass drum reverberating across the theatre, before the stage lights came on at the harp and pipa’s entry, revealing pipa player Wu Man in a sultry red midi skirt, harpist Ruth Wall and percussionist Robert Oetomo. Wall began a long and lyrical melody on top of the pipa’s gently oscillating motor rhythm, supported by Oetomo’s single downbeats on the bass drum. The slow and contemplative opening section gradually transformed into a percussive and rhythmically driven dance. As one would expect from works influenced by traditional folk tunes, percussion instruments were majorly featured. Present were clapper blocks, bass drum, gong and ride cymbals. Finishing with a climactic bang, it led nicely into Mozart’s F Major Oboe Quartet.

Wu Man, Ruth Wall and Robert Oetomo. Photo © Andrew Rankin

It is likely this work’s placement...