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.
Final Top Gear reviewTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 This is surely the best way to watch Jaws
- 2 Homeless man playing piano in Florida becomes instant online sensation with public performance
- 3 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 4 San Francisco TV news crew attacked by armed robbers during live broadcast
- 5 Greek debt crisis: The photograph that conveys the despair of Greece's elderly
Bad luck, One Direction: Paul McCartney doubts success of The Beatles will ever be matched again
This is surely the best way to watch Jaws
The Crystal Maze: Richard O’Brien confirmed to return as more details revealed about show's rebooted format
Guillaume Tell's gang-rape scene caused uproar at the Royal Opera House – but the portrayal of extreme sex and violence on stage is nothing new
What if Nicolas Cage played every character in Game of Thrones?
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture