Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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Sally Beamish and Melanie Reid talk about ‘Spinal Chords’

Thu 9 Feb 2012

Tomorrow night we bring Sally Beamish’s new piece, Spinal Chords, to London for its premiere in the Capital (above: in rehearsal). Its world premiere in Southampton on Sunday got a great reaction from the audience and the press, with The Times giving it 4 stars and commenting:

“Spinal Chords does not so much express as impress: the “’chords”’, played only on the “’cordes’” –  the stringed instruments of the OAE —- sear into the nerves as they are deconstructed, painfully built up, fall back again into stasis, then start to reconnect and grow into fragments of melody, motif and new motivation, shared among the band’s 13 soloists. And, finally, three gently vibrant, questioning chords. The audience becomes gradually and wonderfully aware that the musical process is an almost direct transcription of the physical one. In a work that is totally devoid of drama or self-pity, it is left to the listener to supply the emotional subtext.” Read the full review (Times Subscribers only)

The piece is set to text by Melanie Reid, and documents her journey from an accident which paralysed her through to now, as she strives to regain movement.

Members of OAE staff snuck into the rehearsal last Saturday and can confirm the piece’s emotional power – personally I found a tear in my eye within moments of it starting. At that rehearsal BBC Radio 4’s The World this Weekend were in attendance, and you can hear the report here, 23 minutes into the programme, with the report featuring footage from the rehearsal itself, giving you a sneak preview of the music.

Plus, here’s a video featuring both Sally and Melanie Reid, chatting about how the piece came about. Tickets are still availble for the concert tomorrow (10 February) at the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Spinal Chords has been commissioned as part of New Music 20×12

William Norris, Communications Director

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