Jóhann Jóhannsson: Last and First Men
Sat 1 Dec 2018, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm
Last and First Men is a new multimedia work by Oscar-nominated Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, combining film – featuring narration by Tilda Swinton – and music, with the score performed live by the LSO under conductor Daníel Bjarnason. Based on the cult Science Fiction novel by Olaf Stapledon, Last and First Men is a requiem for the last of humankind, using music, film and Tilda Swinton’s mournful narration to form a poetic meditation on memory and loss. It sits somewhere between fiction and documentary, placing images of a decaying futuristic landscape – filmed in 16mm black and white in the former Yugoslav republics – against Jóhannsson’s haunting orchestral score. Jóhann Jóhannsson – whose soundtracks have included Arrival, The Theory of Everything and Sicario – spent seven years crafting the work before its premiere at the Manchester International Festival in summer 2017.
Sadly, Jóhann Jóhannsson died in February 2018, shortly after this Barbican concert was announced. After consultation with Jóhann’s family and estate, it has been agreed to go ahead with the performance, in tribute to him. Jóhann will not be replaced with another musician in this concert, but recordings that he made of his own parts will be used instead.