A moment from TiW with the audience surrounded by live sound

Tallis in Wonderland

Concert promoters: find out more about this programme.

Robert Hollingworth writes:

“For a long time, I’ve felt that even very experienced audiences find it difficult to appreciate Renaissance polyphony in concert on more than a surface level. A rich web of sound is presented from one end of usually a resonant building and the result is a wash of sound that tickles the ears of the listener without requiring them to dig deeper into the musical process.

“Many are perfectly happy to hear their Renaissance polyphony in this way but my starting point for a new project was to conceive a way for the audience to be much more aware of the individual lines that make up the polyphony so that they could sense the whole structure, and also for them to be much more aware of the meaning of the text.

“I then started talking with Dutch company Artery and designer/director Henk Schut (with whom I’d worked on L’Orfeo and Faust) and he and sound designer Steve Mensink took this through many further layers before the show was premiered in 2009, featuring music by Josquin, Gombert, Manchicourt, Byrd, Tallis, Rore, Palestrina, Gesualdo and Monteverdi.”

“It’s not out to shock , but to open the ear to every wonder-filled strand of Renaissance polyphony by means of a highly physical “aural fantasy” created by six singers and Henk Schut’s installation team Artery, from Amsterdam. The project is not half as coy as its title, and it works.

“It works because it listens intensively to the music itself. Not one aural effect, not one staged movement distracts — and that is something of a small miracle. Schut exploits the ears’ unique ability to assimilate many layers of sound simultaneously and, in doing so, creates space for the individual imagination.” Hilary Finch, The Times

Tallis in Wonderland:

Emma Tring (soprano), Clare Wilkinson (mezzo-soprano),
Robert Hollingworth (countertenor), Nicholas Hurndall Smith (tenor),
Eamonn Dougan (baritone), Chris Adams (bass)

Steve Mensink – sound, Henk Schut – direction

All photos: Malcolm Watson, Aldeburgh Music

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