City of London Sinfonia make their first visit to Bradford this October for The Fruit of Silence, a musical event which explores the relationship between sound and spirituality, using the spaces and architecture of our building to help you see classical music in a completely new light.
The music of Pärt, Vasks and Tabakova evoke the transcendental, with chant-like washes of colour and spellbinding soundscapes.
We spoke to Matthew Swann, the Orchestra’s CEO, about what to expect from this amazing event.
Can you give us an introduction into City of London Sinfonia and The Fruit of Silence?
Over the last few years we have really looked a lot at audience experience. Lots of people go to orchestral concerts and enjoy them, but a lot of people today are after something a little bit more. Part of the reason why we’re taking this new approach is because we want to provide something that’s more immersive and interactive, so people can actually be part of the performance. The audience will enjoy incredible music by Dobrinka Tabakova and Pēteris Vasks, and the music that the Bradford Cathedral Director of Music and wonderful choristers are doing. It’ll be performed in a more informal way, but one that is still speaking to the growing need for ritual and spirituality.
We have seen the rise in popularity of events like immersive cinema; is this the future of big cultural events?
I think it’s because so much of our entertainment, and so much of our lives, are moving online. For all the brilliance of Netflix and YouTube, it’s still quite a passive experience. Yes, you have a lot more chance than you even had two or three years ago, never-mind ten or twenty, but you’re still being entertained at. When people experience live acts, they’re increasingly looking at how to be a part of the performance, and they want to feel that they’re having an experience that goes beyond what they could just be watching on a screen. It’s like pantomime: people want that back and forth experience. That’s maybe a slightly flippant point but it’s relevant: centuries ago, people would have experienced religious music in a much more interactive way and the audience would have really focussed in on being part of the experience rather than being passive.
What is the concept behind The Fruit of Silence?
It’s music which speaks to a lot of people: music by Pēteris Vasks is becoming increasingly popular, and it’s certainly covered a lot on stations like Classic FM. If you look at Spotify playlists, a lot of his music is there, and we want to give the audience a taste of that. But we also want to celebrate the beauty of our own architectural heritage; Cathedrals have a choral tradition which is hugely important, but we’re going to do it in a contemporary way so we’ll hopefully bring people in who would otherwise not usually experience it.
Do you have a favourite piece of music from the programme?
I think the highlight of the concert is the final piece by Dobrinka Tabakova. Up until that point, you’re experiencing City of London Sinfonia musicians and the Bradford Cathedral Choir separately. There will be pop-up elements around the cathedral performing short works that lead into one another, which will encourage people to wander around. It’s only at the last piece that everyone comes together, and you experience the musical weight and the big sound that you only get when an orchestra and choir come together. It’s a very special moment.
What else can people enjoy from City of London Sinfonia in the future?
I hope it’s not too long before we come back to Bradford or Yorkshire again. On a slightly negative note, touring is difficult and costs a lot of money, and whilst we’re very keen to build up relationships and we will do another cathedrals tour, it may not be for another two or three years, which is the reality of the situation. It’s taken the best part of three years to put this tour together in terms of getting funding and finding partners.
To find out more about us before the concert, we do have a very active Spotify playlist with lots of things you can experience on there.
City of London Sinfonia presents The Fruit of Silence at Bradford Cathedral on Saturday 12th October at 7pm. Join us as we follow the Orchestra and Choir around the building as part of this spectacular event. You can reserve a seat or a cushion at www.cityoflondonsinfonia.co.uk/whats-on/2518/the-fruit-of-silence-bradford/