London Contemporary Orchestra at Southbank Centre
The Southbank Centre revives its Inside Out series this spring, showcasing a wide range of international talent across music and literature through its online platform, while doors remain closed. Last night’s concert featured a characteristically innovative performance by the London Contemporary Orchestra, supported between pieces by the powerful voices of London-based vocal ensembles VOCES8 and Apollo5, the latter building on the success of their recent release, Where All Roses Go.
The musicians of the LCO, led by conductor and arranger Robert Ames, blended complex string arrangements with echoing percussion, filling the cavernous Queen Elizabeth Hall with haunting new interpretations of Duval Timothy’s Look and Kelly Lee Owens’s Arpeggi. Timothy and Owens produced two of the most exciting electronic records of 2020, and, while these tracks are enduringly marked by their signature, the success of Ames – and Ben Corrigan on Arpeggi – in transforming them into orchestral pieces gestures towards the works’ versatility and potential. Meanwhile, VOCES8 and Apollo5 brought a remarkable warmth to the space with world premieres of Hildur Gudnadóttir’s Ascent (an eerie meditation on rising and growth, shifting unpredictably between hopelessness and hope) and Ólafur Arnalds’ Momentary (suggesting conversation and connection in its layered vocals, and carrying a springlike impulse towards rejuvenation).
In closing, the orchestra expanded on this warmth – located somewhere between the security of a winter hibernation, and the April sun that prompts the first flowers to open – interpreting a piece from Der Klang der Offenbarung des Göttlichen, the ethereal four-act opera produced in 2016 by Kjarta Sveinsson (formerly known as a member of Sigur Rós, presently known for dream-like craftsmanship). The combined effect of these pieces, these arrangements and these performers is testament to the refinement and creativity that has been exercised in producing this series of events – and, even more so, to the overwhelming resource of artistic potential across the globe that has been put on pause over the last year. Fortunately it is still possible to engage audiences through productions such as this one.
Photo: Takis Zontiros
For further information and future events visit London Contemporary Orchestra’s website here.