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.
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 2 Replica Back to the Future Hoverboard released
- 3 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
- 4 Dylan Moran on quitting smoking, being about as sexy as the Pope and why comedy panel programmes are 'c*ck shows'
- 5 Modern society encapsulated in five seconds
Poldark, review: Demelza’s insouciance is almost as impressive as Ross’ pecs
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
James May hints he will not continue on Top Gear without Jeremy Clarkson
Menstruation-themed photo series artist 'censored by Instagram' says images are to demystify taboos around periods
Jeremy Clarkson Top Gear return: Suspended host set for live event in Norway next week
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans