Review: The Lost & Found Orchestra

The Lost & Found Orchestra is a bunch of noisy garbage.

As its name suggests, The Lost & Found Orchestra is a grand musical performance, where the instruments are all mostly rubbish. That’s not to say that they sound bad. They’re just made of the kind of the junk one finds at the tip — bottles, funnels, hoses, oil drums, floorboards, air-conditioning ducts among dozens of other things.

It’s a highly percussive performance. From slapping (oil) drums, to banging sticks, to milk bottle shakers to dozens of people bonking each other on the head with squeaky hammers, there’s almost always a beat to tap along to in this gargantuan Elder Park performance. Thousands have come, camped on picnic rugs and they’re all well entertained throughout.

Part of this performance’s genius is that it hardly ever repeats a trick. One might think that there are real limits to what musical effect can be created with society’s hard rubbish, but Lost & Found demonstrates that this limit is only in the imagination. Each successive arrangement comes out with a new way to make sound, be it a door transformed into a rain stick, metal poles on pulleys resonating in water or the brass drum sound of a slamming filing cabinet drawer.

And with a hundreds-strong locally-sourced choir, this show has enormous strength in numbers. One worry might be that these volunteers are used in a gimmicky, look-they’re-local kind of flourish, but this talented horde is excellent throughout and contributes often. From the columns of illuminated, jangling marchers emerging out of the audience to the final, goose bump-inducing choir performance, they’re always fun to watch.

At times the performance feels like a sort of post-apocalyptic jamboree, too. The central half-dozen or so musicians, who often play their parts on the run, change formation, clown about and conduct the musical horde. It’s like a family-friendly Mad Max montage in these moments, minus the flaming guitar.

The cumulative effect of this massive performance is that this well-organised trash is far greater than the sum of its parts. And in that comes the message: When humanity combines its sheer numbers with some imagination and organisation, just about anything is possible.

The Lost & Found Orchestra performed in Elder Park on Saturday, March 3 and Sunday, March 4

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