The Perth Symphony Orchestra is reimagining the orchestral concert experience as an alternative to an evening yoga class in their C.A.L.M. (Come And Listen to Music) performance in August. The concert, which will feature Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony, is timed to coincide with the evening commute and audience members will have the option to lie down on relaxation mats, sit on chairs or stand with a drink at the bar. A yoga instructor will host the concert and guide the audience through breathing exercises at the beginning. PSO Chief Conductor Jessica Gethin spoke to Limelight about what’s in store for the audience at C.A.L.M.

Jessica Gethin, Perth Symphony Orchestra, PSOPerth Symphony Orchestra Chief Conductor Jessica Gethin. Photo: supplied

How did the idea for this concert come together?

Perth Symphony’s C.A.L.M. (Come And Listen to Music) concept was developed to take people away from the hectic pace of their day, providing some respite from the constant pressures of schedules, deadlines and technology through the power of music. We thought it would be ideal for those working in the CBD, finishing their day listening to a live symphony and returning home refreshed and invigorated… rather than struggling through peak hour traffic and returning home frazzled!

Do you think there’s an appetite for events where the audience can relax and unwind in this way?

Absolutely – as life gets more hectic I think people are looking for different ways to achieve mindfulness and unwind. Attending a symphony may not always be the first thing they think of to do, but we encourage everyone to give it a go. I have rarely found anyone that decides it’s not for them, most are pleasantly surprised by how much they enjoy the experience. Music is a pretty powerful language and one we believe should be available for everyone to access.

What role do you think classical music can play for mental health?

I think music can play a huge role in mental health. I remember watching the brilliant documentary titled Alive Inside, which showed how powerful music can be in regenerating certain functions in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, the benefits are invaluable.

The effect of Mozart on people has been known to regulate the body, lower the heart rate, boost creativity and clarity, calm the system and relieve stress. It provides nostalgia for the old, refuge for the young and connection within communities. The list is endless!

How do you think the introductory breathing exercises might affect people’s response to the music?

I think it is beneficial for us all to consciously breathe properly, something my physio often reminds me! Certainly giving the audience the opportunity to relax, focus and unwind before the performance commences will open their mind and ears and hopefully make the performance a more mindful experience. Like having a warm ginger tea before a massage!

Perth Symphony Orchestra, PSO, Jessica GethinJessica Gethin and the Perth Symphony Orchestra. Photo: supplied

What was it about Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony that prompted you to program it for this concert?

Rather than choose a piece that may be considered more relaxing at first listen, I decided to program something that would uplift and refresh. Mozart came to mind as the perfect vehicle for this. I chose Mozart’s final Symphony, No 41, which has much energy and majesty in its architecture and sound – it’s also something I wanted to explore with the orchestra as we continue to develop our sound and style.

Will you and the musicians get to relax much?

I think it is a little different for the performers; we will have much focus and clarity of mindset, which is different to relaxation but can provide a similar outcome. The tricky thing about conducting or playing an instrument is that you need to be completely present in creating the moment, however also hearing where you have come from and anticipating the musical direction you are heading to shape the overall journey of the piece.

What do you hope the audience comes away with?

I hope the performance provides respite from their day, and leaves them feeling refreshed and invigorated. Sometimes a different perspective is all we need to change our mindset; simply watching how the musicians work together as a cohesive team without words, listening to the way the music lifts, pauses, drives and soars and allowing the body to get in sync with the music will have a positive effect on the audience.

The Perth Symphony Orchestra’s C.A.L.M concert is at Perth Town Hall on August 16