From the creator of STOMP!, Luke Cresswell, in collaboration with Australia’s Nigel Jamieson (Sydney Olympics Opening Ceremony), The Lost and Found Orchestra was always going to be an exhilarating spectacle for the eyes, the ears and the soul. But outdoors in Elder Park, with a cast of 500 Adelaideans drafted in as local participants, it was a true example of the power of art to bring people together. My only regret about the show is that it wasn’t available to everyone in the city – art like this can and should stretch a population’s spirit to a higher level, if only for 90 minutes.

The talented performers of the LFO have brought together a stage’s worth of instruments made from discarded objects: traffic cones, garden hose, old glasses, children’s toys, fitballs, an old door, plastic bags, wooden flooring samples, oil drums and memorably, a cornucopia of bicycle horns all attached to a single bicycle. Some instruments are carefully built and tuned (the wooden xylophone; the multi-glass harp, made of 40 glass tubes filled with water and played on their rims; the giant bellows-powered pipe organ); others are played “as they came” (the cymbal-playing wind-up monkey toys; the oil drums; the shopping trolleys). The 20-or so professional performers played joyously all over the three-tier stage, dancing, juggling, and teasing each other with the created instruments. Their intricate and fabulously creative performance was supplemented by a specially trained cadre of Adelaide locals, who volunteered to take part in the night and drilled for weeks with broomsticks, be-jangled umbrellas, milk-bottle shakers, and plastic bags. Highlights of the locals’ involvement include a set piece that spread from the stage all the way to the bridge over the Torrens; and a massed-voices choir finale that was overwhelmingly beautiful.

With a repertoire of original music ranging from rousing, percussive belters, through to melodiously beautiful watermusik (complete with “raindrops” sprayed over the crowd by the Adelaide performers), the breadth and inventiveness of the show was truly incredible. Infused with a strong political message about the wastefulness of capitalist society, one piece also spoke to the nature of intersectional feminism as the solution to many of the problems created by capitalism itself, while the orchestra itself was a living lesson in the power of collaboration. The recycled, found, and created nature of all the instruments left me reassured that even if the Apocalypse should come, we will still have music. Many of the instruments played tonight provided one note only, meaning that multiple iterations of each instrument, tuned to different notes, were needed to create the complex tunes the ensemble performed. One of the effects of this replication and cooperative playing was to bring the performers to the front of our awareness. We’re so used to thinking that music comes from instruments, but actually, tonight’s performance proved that music comes from humans; it always has and it always will.

Adelaide Festival Review by Jordan Bell