This Wednesday, Tête à Tête presented the world premiere Toni Castells’ 2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal?, an opera which questions whether technology really is going to save humanity, in the process promising “downtempo electronica and sound art”.
Performed with the combined forces of the Aquinas Piano trio and Helios Voices – led by Mark Sproson – the Spanish-born British composer took over St. James Piccadilly for the evening, to showcase Castells’ trademark blend of operatic and classical traditions with downtempo electronica and sound art.
Countertenor Oliver Gerrish was joined by Soprano Meeta Raval – a Finalist in the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition in 2011 – in leading the proceedings for the 55 minute-long performance, which featured five sections mirroring the life of a fruit tree, recognised as a classic metaphor for the cyclic nature of life. The first three sections explore the process from life to death, the last two open to door to immortality. These two blocks are exactly separated at the Golden Ratio: 34 minutes. All the timings of the individual segments and subsegments of the piece follow nature’s omnipresent Fibonacci Sequence.
2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal was an article published in Time Magazine in 2011 by Lev Grossman. The article features Ray Kurzweil, Director of Engineering at Google Inc., who describes how we are approaching a moment when computers will become intelligent, and not just intelligent but more intelligent than humans. When that happens, humanity – our bodies, our minds, our civilization – will be completely and irreversibly transformed. Kurzweil believes that this moment is not only inevitable but imminent. According to his calculations, the end of human civilization as we know it is about 30 years away. This article and a deeper exploration on Kurzweil’s work became the foundation for this eponymous musical work where the composer explores his own reflections on life, death and afterlife and on whether technology is really going to save humanity.
Listen to Toni Castells & Bill Bankes-Jones on In Tune on 28 June 2016:
Cast & Company
Toni Castells | Keyboards & Percussion
Mark Sproson | Choral Director
Aquinas Piano Trio
Meeta Raval | Soprano
Oliver Gerrish | Countertenor
Martin Cousin | Piano
Katherine Jenkinson | Cello
Ruth Rogers | Violin
Olivia Duque | Cor Anglais
Martin Stephens | Electric Bass
Mike de Groot | Electronics