Monday 1 August 2022

Ancestor, a joint work by Tarik O'Regan and Errollyn Wallen at centre of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra's programme at St-Martin-in-the-Fields

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Tim Mead
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Tim Mead

On Tuesday 2 August 2022, the San Francisco-based Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, conducted by John Butt, will be presenting the programme A Garden of Good and Evil at the church of St-Martin-in-the Fields. Centred on the music of Handel, the concert features two of his Concerto Grossos Op. 6 alongside arias from Giulio Cesare, Admeto, and Judas Maccabeus performed by counter-tenor Tim Mead. But alongside the Baroque music will be the London premiere of a new work by Errollyn Wallen and Tarik O'Regan, Ancestor.

Ancestor was composed jointly by the orchestra's composer-in-residence Tarik O'Regan and his good friend and colleague Errollyn Wallen. Commissioned by the orchestra and written especially for Mead’s voice, the work explores the mythology around the Creation from a broad range of cultures. Written jointly, Ancestor consists of two linked pieces, one by O'Regan and the other by Wallen, the intriguing feature being that each composer sets a text by the other.

Tarik O’Regan explains; "The challenge was how to go about working together as two composers, each responsible for a fully autonomous work, which also somehow connected to the other thematically and musically in a programme based on opposites. It was at this point we began thinking about duality rather than polarity: both instead of either/or. In light of this, Errollyn came up with the idea of each writing our own texts. My modification was to suggest that we each write each other's texts.", adding; "Which is exactly what we did, each providing a poem or libretto of sorts for the other. Our pieces take for their titles the first words of our respective texts: The Forms and The Golden Measure."

Ancestor was premiered on Friday (29 July 2022) at the Ryedale Festival. Further details about Tuesday's performance from the St-Martin-in-the-Fields website.

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