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FULL Voy a Dormir (Dessner) London 2022 Tara Venditti

Video Recording from: BBC iPlayer     FULL VIDEO     Qries

Information on the Performance
Information about the Recording
  • Published by: BBC  
  • Date Published: 2022  
  • Format: Broadcast
  • Quality Video: 4 Audio:4
  • Subtitles: nosubs  
  • Video Recording from: BBC iPlayer     FULL VIDEO

Georgia Mann presents a programme of contemporary classical music, written and inspired by women composers and poets. The BBC Concert Orchestra, led by Principal Conductor Bramwell Tovey, perform at the prestigious Queen Elizabeth Hall within the Southbank Centre, London.

The concert opens with film music by Debbie Wiseman, one of the most sought-after film and TV composers of today, and her hugely popular work on Wilde, the film about the life of Oscar Wilde starring Stephen Fry in the title role. We are then introduced to composer Shirley Thompson’s Wildfire – a piece taken from a scene in the opera Sacred Mountain: Incidents in the Life of Queen Nanny of the Maroons. The opera relates the adventures of Queen Nanny, the 18th-century military and spiritual leader of the Windward Maroons, descendants of the formerly enslaved Africans in Jamaica, who is frequently compared to Boudicca, the ancient Celtic warrior queen. In this scene, Queen Nanny garners her forces to withstand an attack from an enemy, and she sends out coded musical messages to her allies. The messages are spreading like ‘wildfire’. The opera overturns the operatic convention of presenting women in morally weak roles or as femmes fatales.

Wildfire is followed by Hannah Kendall’s The Spark Catchers, a work inspired by an incredibly evocative poem by Lemn Sissay about women who worked in match factories in the 1800s. The piece is full of kinetic energy and driving rhythms.

We return to the world of the movies and George Fenton’s film score for Shadowlands from 1993, which starred Sir Anthony Hopkins as CS Lewis and Debra Winger as his wife American poet Joy Davidman Gresham.

The world premiere of David Knotts’s The Alabaster Chambers (Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra) follows, performed by classical guitarist Craig Ogden and inspired by Safe in their Alabaster Chambers, a poem by 19th-century American poet Emily Dickinson. In the poem, a speaker imagines the dead lying safe in their tombs, utterly undisturbed by anything going on above them. Dickinson as a poet was unknown in her lifetime but is today revered by poets and poetry lovers throughout the world, and her revolutionary poetic style has been widely influential.

We’re then back to the movies with the end title music from the film Emma, a period comedy starring Gwyneth Paltrow, based on Jane Austen’s famous novel. Its composer, Rachel Portman, won Best Original Score at the Academy Awards in 1997 – the first time a female composer has been awarded an Oscar.

The concert closes with the European premiere of Bryce Dessner’s beautiful song cycle Voy a Dormir (I’m Going to Sleep), which is based on the writing of one of the Latin America’s foremost poets, Alfonsina Storni. Storni, haunted by solitude and breast cancer, sent her last poem, Voy a Dormir (I’m going to sleep) to La Nación newspaper in October 1938. Then, one morning, Storni left her room and headed towards the sea at La Perla beach in Mar del Plata, Argentina. Later that day, two workers found her body washed up on the beach. Although her biographers hold that she jumped into the water from a breakwater, popular legend is that she slowly walked out to sea until she drowned. Nina Wadia recites Alfonsina Storni’s four poems that inspired the composer, before mezzo-soprano Tara Venditti joins the orchestra to perform the evening’s final work.

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