I’ve always been intrigued by the London Underground’s rich history and so was very excited to be invited to a one-of-a-kind performance by the London Contemporary Orchestra at Aldwych, a station abandoned in the 1980s.
The performance was based around an incomplete opera written by Canadian composer Claude Vivier, where the protagonist is murdered by a stranger on the subway. Ill-fated to say the least, Claude was later stabbed to death in his own home. As I walked down the 200 odd steps into the depths of the station, it is fair to say I had no idea what to expect.
You walk through crumbling tunnels, board a disused train and finish on a dilapidated platform, with the destination accompanied by short pieces, each with a mixture of instruments and musical styles. The highlight had to be the choir performance in a train tunnel – the eery darkness is pierced by lights strapped to their heads and you are fully immersed in an incredible experience.
The LCO pushed the boundaries of orchestral performance and even a few weeks after, it still sends chills down my spine.
The Imagined Occasions Series continues on August 22 and October 3, see the LCO website for details.
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