Review: San Ureshi and Friends

The Nexus Arts stage was graced by the talents of San Ureshi and some of Adelaide’s finest session musicians in the trio’s first official concert endearingly titled San Ureshi and Friends.

Satomi Ohnishi; David Dai; Zhao Liang of San Ureshi | image supplied

Since forming their ensemble in 2019, musicians Zhao Liang (guzheng), Satomi Ohnishi (percussion), and David Dai (ehru) have focused on experimenting with various soundscapes and textures, conducting educational workshops, and responding sonically to art gallery exhibitions. In 2021 they were selected to take part in Interplay – Nexus Arts’ flagship artist development program, and the venue was a natural fit for their event.

In this concert, San Ureshi shared their original compositions alongside folk music from their respective cultures. The earthy instrumental timbres and seductive rhythms instantly grabbed the audiences attention. Highlights were a piece called ‘Rain’ which was a meditative, cinematic soundscape which transported its listener to another place, and a traditional folk song about a horse in which Dai demonstrated his virtuosic command of the ehru, supported by a dynamic string quartet accompaniment arranged by Joel Ang. It was performed by the Bronzewing String Quartet which featured Lester Wong (violin), Robert Wallace (violin), Rita Reichbart (viola), and Jack Overall (cello). Other notable guest artists included guitarist Alain Valodze and vocalist Cindy Fan.

Ohnishi assumed the role of the MC, sharing anecdotes and teaching the audience about the particulars of the non-western instruments which appeared throughout the show. She handled her multi-tasking of several percussion instruments and audience engagement well – her quip, endearing nature received a lot of laughter. However, a dedicated MC would have helped make the segues and transitions more refined, considering the re-tuning involved in instruments such as the guzheng.

The trio listened to one another with excellent musical connection between them and their skilful supporting artists complemented their playing. There was an abundance of musical expertise displayed through the high quality of their compositions, arrangements, and musicianship. San Ureshi translates to the ‘joy of the trio’, and copious amounts of joy were evident both from the musicians and their audience who showed their appreciation through a standing ovation.

Rating: ★★★★1/2

Reviewed on 26 February 2022.

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