Theatre in Wales

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Bach and Biology mingle, in a morning at Kings Place

Cell Your Soul

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment & Professor Buzz Baum, , Kings Place, London , January-02-20
Cell Your Soul by Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment & Professor Buzz Baum, After the laughter and joy of the London Sinfonietta Kagel concert the night prior, I would rush back to Kings Place the next morning. In their Bach, the Universe and Everything series, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment present an hour of music and science, yet how does it all blend together?

I never expected to be singing a chorale by Bach. Which is how the event started, warming up to prepare to sing it proper at the end (my German pronunciation was awful). Professor Buzz Baum spoke of the Eukaryotic cell and it’s important in biology at the moment. His talk was mostly understandable, presenting facts in a digestible way for this morning audience (I had yet to have a coffee). His humour and thirst for knowledge was evident and he makes for a great listen. He touched upon music and how both art and science have ways of creating forms and ideas, though like the whole event I don’t think the dynamic between both fields were meshed as well as they could have been.

Saying this, we heard FW Zachow’s ‘Herr Jesu Christ, wahr’ Mensch und Gott’ and Lassus’s Justorum Animae, equally lavish compositions opening the performance. The choir here mesmeric in touching offerings that I could have heard for much longer. Hugo Hymas delivering a grounded tenor and great reading voice for an extract of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Soprano Jessica Cale showcases some of Bach’s fine aria moments with much talent. Bass Dominic Sedgwick got a brief, yet proud recitative, though I was expecting an aria proper form him, but perhaps the composer had other ideas. Director Steven Devine lives up to his name on the miniature organ, along with the encouragement he gives these budding singers.

Bach own ‘Her Jesu Christ, wahr’ Mensch und Gott’ gave these soloists, choir and musicians (I adored the recorders) some ravishing moments proving the composer’s brilliance, as well as his monumental work effect (we would write a cantata almost every month at the Thomaskirche). I fumbled my way through the German of the concluding chorale, though the singing of this London lot could rival that of a Welsh audience. Almost.

Telemann’s Allegro from his Concerto in B flat major ended with a delightful flourish. Though this joining helps the concerts become more accessible, I feel more work needs to be done to find even more ways to connect music and science. Goof stuff, all the same.

Rating: 3 stars

Photo Credit: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment Website

Reviewed by: James Ellis

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