Deep breath for a millenium of music

Respiratory straightforward… Luminescence Chamber Singers with AJ America within the centre. Photograph: Hilary Wardhaugh

Music / “Drawing Breath”, Luminescence Chamber Singers. At Gandel Atrium, Nationwide Museum, October 16. Reviewed by GRAHAM McDONALD.

FOR this live performance sequence, the Luminescence Chamber Singers (inventive director AJ America, Veronica Milroy, Rachel Mink, Jack Stevens and Dan Walker) have assembled a group of songs across the thought of respiratory, an exercise central to the artwork of singing. 

The age of the songs vary over a millennium, Hildegard von Bingen within the 12th century to 3 works composed this 12 months. On the similar time the interval from the 17th to the top of the 20th century was virtually solely ignored, apart from the opening tune, an association of Pink Floyd’s “Breathe” from 1973’s album “Darkish Facet of the Moon”. 

The tip outcome was a mixture of medieval/renaissance music sitting alongside the very trendy and the mixture labored remarkably nicely. 

This system included three world premieres. The primary was “Pay attention, Are You Respiratory Only a Little and Calling It a Life” by the tenor within the ensemble Dan Walker. This has hints of Bulgarian folks harmonies within the scoring and goes in delightfully surprising instructions. 

The second premiere was commissioned by Luminescence from Australian composer Connor D’Netto entitled “Many Passes and Yearnings”. This a sluggish reflective work with some superb dissonances. 

The third premiere was an association by the Luminescence inventive director AJ America of one in all Andrew Ford’s “Purple Filth Hymns” suite “Isolation Hymn”. This has a powerful folk-style melody with a solo vocal by America and really efficient, largely chordal backing from the opposite 4, which comes and goes all through the tune.

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Two different current works in this system have been additionally by native composers. Jess Inexperienced’s “I Heard You Sing” was reprised from its premier earlier this 12 months and Brenda Gifford’s “Yangaa” (Sing!) is an enchanting work with every singer repeating one phrase, establishing rhythmic patterns and sounding like human looping pedals, dropping elements out and in and layering extra on prime.

The one draw back to this live performance was the venue. The Gandel Atrium is an unlimited reverberant area on the entrance of the Nationwide Museum constructing in Acton. A reverberant acoustic could be a fantastic factor for vocal music, however the sound right here goes up into the ceiling and has all of the readability sucked out of it. 

There’s an virtually metallic crispness to an acoustic area that works (such because the Fitters’ Workshop), however which is simply not there within the Atrium. As well as there may be the issue of a continuing rumble from the air-con underpinning all of the sound being produced. 

It must also be identified to the museum’s occasion employees that elevator piano music by way of the speaker arrays above the stage just isn’t wanted earlier than a live performance like this and in any case turns into misplaced and incoherent within the acoustics of the room.