Brian Eno/Joanna MacGregor/Bath Camerata, Bath Festival
Over to Brian, for the news
Sunday 28 May 2006
The inspired appointment of Joanna MacGregor as Bath Festival's new Artistic Director has already created a transformation. But here was the first grand project: a site-specific collaboration between pianist/auteur MacGregor (below) and composer/knob-twiddler Brian Eno, using the architecture of the abbey and the superb choir of Bath Camerata in a programme of ambient music ancient and modern.
Wednesday's two sold-out performances testified to the pulling-power of the dream team. But what would the enigmatic Eno actually do? As it turned out, he did loads. Seated at a desk (looking rather like a newsreader in his grey suit and specs, Apple Powerbook open in front of him), Eno made announcements, intoned poetry in his impressive, actor-ish voice, and even sang along with the choir. By twiddling a little console connected to the computer, he also "treated" MacGregor's Steinway and the voices of the choir with the sonic shivers and shimmers - a kind of audio-ectoplasm - that characterise his famous ambient works.
In the most compelling sequence of a wonderfully varied programme, MacGregor's Eno-ised version of Dowland's "Lachrymae" - slowed-down into ambient-tempo - was followed by selections from Eno's own Music For Airports. With the members of the choir now dotted about the abbey (a feature of the performance), their wordless vocals, combined with Eno's effects and the airy acoustic of the building - plus subtle lighting and fan-vaulting a go-go - created a powerful, indeed unforgettable, impression.
There were also two Eno premieres, brief yet striking settings of poems by Rick Holland and Isaac Rosenberg. The choir, directed by Nigel Perrin, sang Byrd, Part, and James Macmillan's "O Bone Jesu" (the one piece in a long programme I could have done without), while a male sub-section delivered a moving arrangement by MacGregor of a Golden Gate Quartet spiritual, "Listen to the Lambs". In the last piece, the incredible 40-voice, 8-choir motet of Spem in Alium by Thomas Tallis, the entire building appeared to pulse with good vibrations. Look out for the broadcast on Radio 3, who commissioned the event.
Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigourfilm
Bannatyne leaves Dragon's DenTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 2 Israel-Gaza conflict: ‘Sderot cinema’ image shows Israelis with popcorn and chairs 'cheering as missiles strike Palestinian targets'
- 3 Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
- 4 Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country
- 5 Barack Obama fist bumps Texas restaurant employee in support of gay rights
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
Emergency data law: David Cameron plots to bring back snoopers’ charter
NUT strike: David Cameron announces crackdown on strike action ahead of mass industrial action