Thursday 19th August & Friday 20th August, 19.45


Ensemble BPM

Three Tales, by Beryl Korot and Steve Reich, is a documentary video opera that recalls three events from the twentieth century: the crash of the Hindenburg Zeppelin, the nuclear bomb testings at Bikini Atoll and the cloning of Dolly the Sheep. A unique fusion of music, cinema and documentary featuring archive footage, audiovisual documentary and interviews with leading scientists including Marvin Minsky and Richard Dawkins, Three Tales tells the story of technology’s growing dominance in the twentieth century, and its evolving relationship with man.


This is the first London performance of Three Tales since its première in 2002. Ensemble BPM are delighted to be performing this important work at Tête à Tête, following on from their performance at the ADC Theatre, Cambridge, in February 2010




Act I Hindenburg.

The first tale starts with the final explosion of the Hindenburg zeppelin in Lakehurst, New Jersey in 1937. The zeppelin’s construction in Germany in 1935 and its final Atlantic crossing are presented through contemporaneous news reports.


Act II Bikini.

‘Bikini’ is based on footage, photographs, and text from the atom bomb tests at Bikini Atoll in 1946-1954. It also tells of the dislocation and relocation of the Bikini people. The act is arranged in three image/music blocks that recur in a loop repeated three times, forming a cyclical meditation on the events. A short coda explores the period of time after the explosions and ends the tale. Interspersed throughout is the story of the creation of human beings from Genesis – not sung, but rather ‘drummed out’ by the percussion and pianos as if they existed in another dimension.


Act III Dolly.

The third tale shows footage, text and interview segments from the scientific and religious communities, about the cloning of an adult sheep in Scotland in 1997. It deals extensively with genetic engineering, technological evolution, robotics and the idea of the human body as a machine. Technological advances encroach even in the work itself: ‘slow motion sound’ allows us to see and hear people speaking in slow motion without changing the pitch of what they say; ‘freeze frame sound’ extends a single vowel or consonant for a long time, leaving a kind of audible vapour trail behind each speaker that becomes part of the overall harmony. Two versions of the creation of human beings (the biological and the biblical) are juxtaposed as the work draws to an ambiguous conclusion.

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Ensemble BPM

Music : Steve Reich

Video: Beryl Korot

Piano I Nathan Mercieca

Piano II James Batty

Vibraphone I Jonathan Pease

Vibraphone II Tom Lee

Percussion I David Burgoyne

Percussion II Ian Tindale

The Ligeti Quartet

Violin I Mandhira de Saram

Violin II Radhika de Saram

Viola Richard Jones

Cello Valerie Welbanks

Tenor I James Cormack

Tenor II Hugh Salimbeni

Tenor III Chris Jacklin

Soprano I Tara Crabbe

Soprano II Joanna Songi

Musical Director Nick Sutcliffe

Stage Director Matthew Eberhardt

Technical Director Simon McCabe

Lighting Designer Simon Hicks

Production Designer Gillean Denny

Sound Designer Jonathan Green

Video Engineer Alex Brett

Video Assistant Richard Hillier

Stage Manager Chiara Canal

Executive Producer Nick Sutcliffe

Co-producers Matthew Eberhardt, Paul Kilbey and Rhiannon Le Parmentier

Ensemble BPM was founded by Nick Sutcliffe in 2009 and specialises in performance of accessible contemporary repertoire. A flexible group, they tackle engaging works involving a variety of media and styles, particularly those that lie close to the boundary between music and theatre. Recognising the ever-narrowing gap between ‘contemporary classical music’ and music that is simply ‘contemporary,’ Ensemble BPM ultimately aims to bring awe-inspiring works like ‘Three Tales’ to an ever-wider audience