Melbourne Festival: Urban Chamber – Beyond

Urban Chamber – Beyond is young people from Melbourne’s northern and western suburbs telling their own stories in a combination of rap, chamber music and dance.

Urban Chamber
Urban Chamber

The groups from Outer Urban Projects and the MASSIVE Hip Hop Choir worked with artistic and musical director Irine Vela, 63-year-old performance poet Komninos Zervos, MC Mary Quinsacara and dancer/choreographer Deon Nuku.

As someone who is no longer a kid, who grew up in the relatively genteel outer suburban Ferntree Gully, and is an atheist, for whom the overly-earnest songs about god were cloying, it wasn’t a work that spoke to me.

The kids sang and rapped of love, of home, and of their mothers, with Babz’ rap about his mother as a baby with a baby being the highlight, along with a short choreographed soccer match between the choreographer and SK Simeon. The girls gave consistently strong vocal performances.

It was a night about these kids’ stories, except when it inexplicably (and too frequently) became about Komninos, with the nadir of the evening being his ‘Baby Rap’, about the trials of having a young baby. It was like someone’s grandfather trying to show how hip he was – when that was really not at all the case – at their 18th birthday party.

Not helped by some audio problems and over-running its scheduled time, the evening was more earnest than celebratory, and the boys’ somewhat timid participation in the ensemble sections suggested that the on-stage mood wasn’t as positive as it tried to be.

Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

Anne-Marie Peard

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *