This is something that I really meant to write about quickly last Sunday but ran out of time to do so…
The night before, I went to see Bill Murray, Jan Vogler & Friends: New Worlds with my mother and sister at the Sydney Opera House. It really was the most unbelievable show. Murray, known more for his comedic film performances than classical music or literature, performed spoken-word pieces (and sang in sections) along to classical music by Bach, Ravel and Schubert. The spoken content came from American literary greats Hemingway, Twain and Whitman.
Not only was Murray absolutely captivating, Jan Vogler (cello), Mira Wang (violin) and Vanessa Perez (piano) played brilliantly and supplied a powerful soundtrack for the evening. There was no need for any advanced lighting or sets; they simply performed on an empty stage, commanding the audience’s attention with evocative excerpts on life, death, religion, relationships, race and more. Personally, I’ve never seen such a live performance that can take you from feeling contemplative (and even sad) to cackling with joy.
At the end of the show, Murray and co. performed an extended encore of semi-improvised material, which they had rehearsed but seemingly not planned to include in the show. Murray stated that with ‘the best room in town’, they should keep going. He then took a bunch of roses, which were presented to him as a gift, and proceeded to run through the aisles and hurl them at the audience.
I’ll never forget this performance. It was truly one of the greatest things that I’ve ever seen. The man is beyond talented.
For an impression of the show, click here to view the trailer. You’ll also find other performances on YouTube.