Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Silver Swan, Turbine Hall, Tate Modern

The Clod Ensemble is a somewhat unlikely company moniker for a group that, last night, appeared in the centre of Tate Modern's Turbine Hall like a quorum of angels. This event, tailored nicely to the character of the huge space, saw the seven female singers of the ensemble perform music by Paul Clark after motets by John Smith and William Lawes. The latter adaptation was  embellished with a troupe of dancers in the East half of the hall. We the audience stood at the top of the hall's rake, moving down during the first piece and then splitting into above and below groups to watch the second.

The singing from the ensemble was excellent and the music itself is a pleasant, imitative swirl of melody, a synaesthetic light in the sepulchral darkness of the hall. At first though the acoustic multi-facet of the space creates a disjunct between the performers, the music and the space which is entirely in keeping with the separation of experience and meaning in abstraction in general (similar of course to many art works held in the galleries of the museum itself). To experience this constellation of sensation and symbol in the space at such a strange time (after closing, in the dark) was very special. I also loved the stasis of the singers compared to the ant-like scurrying of the dancers, apparently caught in some sort of modern, post-lapsarian brainlessness as the angelic chorus sympathise but suggest the possibility of comfort and even direction.

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