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Knees Becomes Virtual Leader

OK, so. Diamond Light Source, AKA Oxford's enormous fricking death laser of science (housed in a groovy giant silver torus just off the side of RAL) was hosting a choral evening featuring the UK's premier contemporary choir singing (among other things) chunks of their own DNA. Alas I booked too early ("Day, tickets numbers 1 and 2") to see the notice about having to book the Synchrotron tour separately (bah!) but I did get to photograph a radio telescope, so I was happy.

The show was in the huge glass atrium, which was full of faintly disturbing works of art (knitted and embroidered extreme close-ups of breast cancer and osteoporosis created by local WIs) and had astonishing acoustics, considering that we were essentially in a giant glass box. Throughout my mind kept running to all the huge corporate spaces that go unused in the evenings, and how they might be better used, for events like this, for example.

Forty-part choral works are (inevitably, I suspect) a pretty explosive experience -- I didn't even open my eyes for the first piece (Sanctum est verum lumen by Gabriel Jackson) but after I'd adjusted enough to turn my eyes back on, looking at the choristers was fascinating. Not just the looks of abject terror on the tenor's faces (particularly striking during Ligeti's Lux Aeterna); the choir were themselves a marvellous expression of human variability/similarity, dressed in sober yet firmly individual black, all different shapes, heights and sizes. Allele itself was a profoundly human piece, terrifyingly complex yet utterly approachable, and also, somehow, extremely and gloriously functional, very thoroughly music. I expect to hear it again soon, in other contexts. They rounded off the night with Tallis' Spem in Alium and the crowd went wild. Insofar as choral crowds go wild.

At the end there was a science/poetry Q&A where Ruth Padel, brawling poetess of Oxford, compared conductor James Weeks's hands to hummingbirds. The associated research was looking at genetic markers for musicality and kindness, incidentally. Can I find a link for that? Mmmm no, but it's on at at the Wellcome Trust on Tuesday, though with more science and less singing.

In other news, I've just spent a cheerful half hour catching up on sport. Man! Armstrong down 11.45!

Comments

( 10 worms — Feed the birds )
damiancugley
12th Jul, 2010 07:00 (UTC)
Tour de France
Both Armstrong and Wiggins gave great examples of gutsy decision-making in a crisis—knowing when to cut scope to salvage a failed project, and the honest appraisal of your own limits and working within them. I wonder if there’s a management-training course to be had based on this.
cleanskies
12th Jul, 2010 07:34 (UTC)
Re: Tour de France
Quick! Write one! I can say with absolute confidence that the local demand for careers counselling amongst junior managers is about to increase ... (glances at watch) in about eight hours.
shermarama
12th Jul, 2010 07:25 (UTC)
Enormous fricking death lasers of science with added Ligeti sounds ace. Having been struck (very much in the sense of being knocked sideways with a cricket bat) hard by the first ever bit of Ligeti I saw live last year, I'm reluctant to look at anything online because how can you possibly capture that sort of thing with something as mundane as a microphone?

Also my bloke has been watching the Tour De France highlights program every day and it's remarkably easy to get caught up in it all. Shame about Lance though.
cleanskies
12th Jul, 2010 07:39 (UTC)
Very wise, especially as my ears were busy at the time and I didn't check the link! It could've been a rickroll (it issn't -- checking it now -- ah, a soft dissonant start to the day).
timscience
12th Jul, 2010 08:09 (UTC)
How can you possibly capture that sort of thing with somethng as mundane as a microphone?
With an XY stereo pair near the front and another pair of spaced omnis at the back to capture ambience, as far as I could see :D

/geekery

Edited at 2010-07-12 08:10 (UTC)
cleanskies
12th Jul, 2010 08:13 (UTC)
yesbut
It STILL isn't going to have the impact of hearing it live
shermarama
12th Jul, 2010 15:47 (UTC)
Re: yesbut
'Expensive microphones' is on my LJ interests list, I own enough of them to record a drumkit in an amateurish fashion, and still, yup, not going to be as good as live...
crazycrone
12th Jul, 2010 07:46 (UTC)
I heard a snatch of ALLELE on R4 the other day, and was pleasantly spooked/impressed.
Sounds like a pretty spacey programme, actually.
cleanskies
12th Jul, 2010 08:16 (UTC)
the line-up in full
Gabriel Jackson - Sanctum est verum lumen
Taverner - Dum transisset
Ligeti - Lux Aeterna
Sheppard - Libera nos I and II
Michael Zev Gordon - Allele *WORLD PREMIERE*
Tallis - Spem in Alium
jinty
12th Jul, 2010 09:38 (UTC)
I love the idea of going to Diamond LS to see / hear a really astounding piece of music like that!

Gabriel Jackson is R's cousin, but from the estranged side of the family (R's mum is GJ's aunt but loathes her brother, if I've got that right). R has met GJ once or twice but not for many many years. Have you seen his ace walrus moustache?
( 10 worms — Feed the birds )