Thursday 19th August & Friday 20th August, 19.45
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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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