Proms at … Bold Tendencies Multi-Storey Car Park – Steve Reich – Multi-Story Orchestra/Christopher Stark, with Hannah Grayson [the 3 p.m. sitting]

Steve Reich
Vermont Counterpoint
Eight Lines
Music for a Large Ensemble

Hannah Grayson (flute, piccolo & alto flute)

Multi-Story Orchestra
Christopher Stark

Reviewed by: Denise Prentice

Reviewed: 3 September, 2016
Venue: Bold Tendencies Multi-Storey Car Park, 95a Rye Lane, Peckham, London SE15

The Multi-Story Orchestra at the BBC Proms At…Bold Tendencies Multi-Storey Car Park in Peckham conducted by Christopher Stark on Saturday 3 September 2016Photograph:  BBC/Mark AllanThe latest offering of the Proms at… series was as much about the uniqueness of the venue as the performance. The low, concrete recessed ceilings of the Bold Tendencies Car Park provided an intimate, immersive acoustic, ringing with the anticipatory thrum of the audience in conversation and the periodic clatter of trains passing through the nearby Peckham Rye Station. In the semi-darkness, shafts of rectangular daylight framed a spectacular view of the London City skyline.

Steve Reich’s Vermont Counterpoint complemented the urban cityscape, consisting of pre-recorded tracks playing simultaneously with mechanical precision. Hannah Grayson joined-in emphatically, weaving playful melodies over multi-layered rhythmic patterns, forming a shimmering sonic tapestry.

Christopher Stark conducts the Multi-Story Orchestra at the BBC Proms At…Bold Tendencies Multi-Storey Car Park in Peckham on Saturday 3 September 2016Photograph:  BBC/Mark AllanThe Multi-Story Orchestra rendered an intense account of Eight Lines, opening with a measured clockwork quality, then with instruments hammering melodic phrases above the repetitive underlying structure to form a hypnotic web of sound. It was a pleasurable experience to tune into each contrasting element, appreciating the textures and then drifting back into the whole. At one point the metallic shriek of a passing train added a pleasing component to this rich and intricate mix.

Finally Music for a Large Ensemble, pulsing with Gamelan-influenced percussion infused with marimba-induced warmth. This luminous and vibrant piece, built on the human breath, morphed into a sonorous cycle of expansion and contraction. Tightly structured, multifaceted strands blend breathy trumpets, soft voices, throbbing strings and choppy percussion swelling into something expansive.

This colourful and life-affirming event succeeded in bringing contemporary classical music to a receptive audience in an accessible and creative community space.

Steve Reich message to Bold Tendencies and Multi-Story from Hannah Barry Gallery on Vimeo.

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