A compelling group of performers moved through the cavernous Turbine Hall, struggling to form a chorus and even to keep their balance. Seven unaccompanied singers re-imagined two 17th Century songs, by John Smith and William Lawes, weaving their melodies into a dense and haunting texture to create a completely new piece of contemporary music.
The Silver Swan who living had no note
’till death approached unlocked her silent throat
Leaning her breast against the reedy shore
She sang her first and last and sang no more
Farewell all joys
Death come close my eyes
More geese than swans now live
More fools than wise
The piece has been presented both as a ‘choreographed concert’ and as a theatre piece featuring additional actors. Silver Swan has been performed in a variety of venues, most recently in the magnificent McEwan Hall as part of the Edinburgh Festival 2005.
Different in every incarnation of performance, theatrically Silver Swan is re-directed to respond to the environment it is performed in. In the magnificent Rapheal Room at the V & A Museum, for example, the piece was a poetic take on the music where the singers, dressed in immaculate white dresses, struggle to form a chorus, and sometimes struggle even to keep their balance. In the enormous McEwan Hall, Edinburgh, three actors joined the company and played out a parallel drama amidst the dozens of doorways and balconies as the audience perched high above in the gallery.
Originally commissioned by BAC
Supported by ENO Studio and the National Theatre Studio
Also supported by The Leche Trust, PRSF, and Hinrichson Foundation
Directed by Suzy Willson
Music by Paul Clark
Conducted by James Keane
Since 1999 Silver Swan has been performed by
Singers: Morag Boyle, Lyndsay Bramley, Deborah Davison, Karen Fodor, Rosemary Forbes Butler, Joanna Gamble, Adey Grummet, Tara Harrison Ruth Jame, Clare McCaldin, Natalie Raybould, Emily Sharp, Lucy Stevens, Helen Withers.
Actors: Sarah Belcher, Zoe Bywater, James Flynn, Satchi Kimara, Dan Milne, Sabina Netherclift, Linda Kerr Scott, Jason Thorpe, Mel Wilson.
"A truly timeless experience."
"The music by Paul Clark is achingly divine. Thrilling textures soar high and sweet, or brush against momentary discords."
The Herald Scotland
"A creation that stands out from the crowd. "
"Oddly charming and beautifully sung."