Islington Festival: Eine Brise/(Fleeting Action for 111 Cyclists) Upper Street, London
Some sense of this is contained in the title of Mauricio Kagel's Eine Brise ("A Breeze"), a "Fluchtige Aktion fur 111 Radfahrer" ("Fleeting Action for 111 Cyclists"), which received its British premiere on Saturday afternoon in Islington, north London, in a co-production between Almeida Opera and the Islington Festival. In fact, this was Eine Kleine Brise: though not exactly a chamber version, this was tailored to reduced forces, weather and mechanical defects having cut the number of participants to somewhere in the low nineties.
In conception, the work is simple: the cyclists, moving in a strictly delineated formation, separated from each other by one and half metres in front and to the side, move swiftly past an audience on a straight road. As each cyclist passes a designated point, he/ she must ring his bell or toot his horn - one short burst, followed by a longer one, and then a longer still; at the next marker, the cyclists begin to sing or whistle a pattern of three rising notes; at the next, they must flutter or shush; finally they ring and toot again, as they disappear into the distance. It lasts around 90 seconds.
In practice, maintaining such a tight formation is difficult. That the day's two performances came off without accident, and managed to maintain a firm hold on Kagel's conception was astounding - particularly difficult given the crowded conditions on Upper Street. The credit must go largely to the brilliant direction of Stephen Montague, a keen cyclist who has worked with the composer.
As for how far the piece achieved its intended effects, I'm not ideally placed to comment, having been one of the cyclists. Kagel conceived of the piece being performed in front of small audiences bunched together at one point along a long, straight route, with the cyclists moving past very swiftly. On Saturday, with the audience strung out along the route and little room for the pack to accelerate, much of the hoped for sense of evanescence - of noise only vanishingly embodied - was inevitably lost. Most spectators seem to have been amused, some at least enchanted by the jangling and susurrations; and Stephen Montague declared himself satisfied that the composer would have been pleased. Perhaps that's all any musician can hope for.
A The film has amassed an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend
A statement was published on his fansite, True To You, following release of new album
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The way the police have treated Cliff Richard is completely unacceptable
- 2 Michael Brown shooting: Amnesty International sends team within US for first time as National Guard deployed
- 3 Michael Brown shooting: Ferguson police shoot and kill second young black man
- 4 James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – and warns Obama of more to come
- 5 Reading Festival 2014: Tesco branch replaces salad and potatoes for Jagermeister and vodka
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness
JK Rowling releases new Harry Potter story on Pottermore: Introducing Celestina Warbuck, the 'Singing Sorceress'
Reading Festival 2014: Tesco branch replaces salad and potatoes for Jagermeister and vodka
The funniest joke at Edinburgh Fringe 2014: Tim Vine wins for second time
Kate Bush: Previously unseen photographs reveal new side to comeback star
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Russell Brand calls for Israel boycott: Comedian urges big businesses that 'facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza' to pull funding
Ukip MEP calls for reintroduction of death penalty on fiftieth anniversary of last deaths
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head