REwind: A Cantata for Voice, Tape and Testimony

On Thurday 6th May the day of the UK general election Southbank Centre plays host to a very special event called REwind.

REwind – A Cantata for Voice, Tape & Testimony combines vocal soloists, chorus, and string octet with stunning projected images to celebrate the human spirit in South Africa that rose above the horror and evil of the deeds that were committed in the name of Apartheid.

Composer Philip Miller has endeavored to express in music the South African spirit as it manifested itself during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings that began in East London, South Africa in 1996. The songs in REwind, which mix operatic and traditional South African styles, are built around actual testimonies and weave recorded audio samples from the hearings into the music. The physical environment, designed by Gerhard Marx, creates a visual context that illuminates the full power of the cantata. Through the use of ingeniously animated projections of photographs and text the testimonies literally take form, enveloping the chorus on stage. And as the words and images settle onto the everyday world, the spaces between the victim and transgressor, those who deliver testimony and those who listen, merge.

REwind is a work with no real parallel: both an extraordinary piece of music and digital art and a historical document with tremendous topical relevance. Above all, it is a commemoration of the dignity of those victims who suffered under the regime.

‘An enduring masterpiece of diverse choral musical, cultural and oral traditions.’
– The Star, South Africa

‘The Cantata brought together the cry of our country – our pain and fears, our hopes and especially our triumphs and joys – in the way we as South Africans can best express these emotions – in music and song. It was a deeply moving, most powerful and uplifting experience. It is so much more than a concert. It is a wonderful vehicle for telling our history and a contribution to nation building.’
– Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus

Book tickets for this one-off concert at Royal Festival Hall here.

Behind the scenes at preparations for Varèse 360

The National Youth Orchestra’s James Murphy gives us a behind the scenes look at preparations for Varèse 360, our concert series next weekend which sees the NYO and London Sinfonietta come together to perform the complete works of Edgard Varèse.

Something alarming has occurred on Facebook. A 16-year-old has changed his status to ‘Varèse is a genius’. What’s more, a load more teenagers have given this the all-important ‘thumbs up’. What’s going on? How can an obscure modernist composer have suddenly caught the mindset of such young people?

Welcome to the NYO’s spring course where 175 teenagers are spending a fortnight preparing for Varèse 360. Despite some wariness when they first got their parts, what the NYO’s members are realising – and what you will discover if you join us for next week’s concerts – is that some music needs to be experienced live. For all his adventures with music technology, it’s only when you’re in the room with Varèse’s vast orchestral juggernauts that they work their magic. Imagine 175 musicians on one stage. It’s double your average symphony orchestra. It makes Mahler look like chamber music. Imagine a solo flute suddenly being ambushed by hordes of brass. Imagine the bows of 100 string players stabbing simultaneously at the air. It’s not just music, it’s theatre. Best of all, think of the biggest percussion artillery ever assembled with twenty players marshalling all its sticks, bells, whistles and toys.

We’re realising that Varèse turns the orchestra into a playground. Everyone gets to hurtle around at high speed, try crazy new things, make noises never dreamed of, be mischievous, playful and have a real blast. If that sounds like fun to you too, we look forward to seeing you on Sunday 18 April.

The NYO’s percussionists introduce some of the weird and wonderful instruments they will be playing as part of Varese 360:

Screenplay Tonight: AR RAHMAN

Just a reminder- Screenplay are offering a live relay of The Music of AR Rahman concert in Royal Festival Hall’s Clore Ballroom. Admission free.

Tonight the London Philharmonic Orchestra perform the works of the celebrated Indian film composer AR Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire composer).

The concert begins at 7.45pm

We look forward to seeing you tonight!

More details of the concert

Alchemy guest bloggers to cover our UK and Asian culture festival right here

There will be some exciting coverage and comment from our Alchemy guest bloggers coming over the next couple of weeks in response to the Alchemy festival April 7th – 11th 2010 which celebrates innovative, classical and contemporary artists from India, UK and South Asia.

Watch our interview with A R Rahman

Festival highlights include the London Philharmonic Orchestra performing many of the best-known works of the celebrated Slumdog Millionaire composer AR Rahman and BBC Asian Network DJ Nihal’s Desi Live a musical project bringing together three UK Bhangra heavyweights H-Dhami, Jaz Dhami and Juggy D on one stage with a full live band for the first time ever!

More info about Alchemy events/book tickets here

Watch exclusive rehearsal footage of Nihal’s Desi Live


On Wednesday 7 April Screenplay are offering a live relay of The Music of AR Rahman concert in Royal Festival Hall’s Clore Ballroom. Admission free. The concert is nearly sold out and is part of week-long festival Alchemy, a festival celebrating innovative, classical and contemporary artists from India, UK and South Asia.

The London Philharmonic Orchestra, Resident at Southbank Centre, performs the works of the celebrated Indian film composer AR Rahman. Mr Rahman will be in attendance at this event, and will speak about his work during the concert, as well as taking part in a Q&A session after the concert.

The concert begins at 7.45pm

We look forward to seeing you!