NOT IN OUR TIME on CD out now
21st November 2011
The new CD Not in Our Time from Richard Blackford is now available from Nimbus Records.
Not In Our Time - a centenary commission for the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus - was premiered at this year's Cheltenham Festival on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, and explores the concept of religion as a pretext for war with 1st century texts juxtaposed with those of the First Crusade 1000 years before.
Listen to an exclusive audio podcast for the Independent where Richard Blackford talks to Edward Seckerson about his journey, his resistance of the musical radicalism of the Darmstadt school, and his quest for an inclusive musical language that both entertains and raises awareness.
Listen to sample tracks here.
"Commissioned and performed by the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus, Not in our Time is a provocative, ambitious work whose libretto draws on diverse historical sources – presidential speeches, poems, religious proclamations – to sketch the course of conflict between Christianity and Islam, respectively represented by tenor and baritone voices. The opening "Prelude", rising from lone cello to orchestral cacophony, is suitably Messiaen-ic, while elsewhere the choral textures have a vibrancy and dark energy reminiscent of Carmina Burana. A partial resolution of sorts is symbolised by Obama's inspirational peacemaker speech, contrasting with Bush's opening bluster."
~ Andy Gill, The Independent
Reviews of the first performances in Cheltenham and Poole
"Fiercely paced and vividly dramatic, it's a huge sing and a grateful one. It's perfectly designed to stretch the chorus without asking the impossible. …..Out of this melting-pot comes something that speaks for itself, and with tremendous force….And that's the only test: the whole thing worked. Against the odds. Writing this piece was like walking into a minefield, and too hesitant a step – in the interests of subtlety, good taste or whatever – could have been the end of it. But Blackford has proceeded fearlessly, intuitively, maybe rashly, but with confidence in his own craft. Which is considerable. Not In Our Time is a terrific piece whose textual content may cause choirs and audiences to think: is this for us? Emphatically it is. And now it ought to come to London."
~ Michael White, Telegraph
"Not In Our Time stands in a powerful tradition of English oratorios that are highly political and overtly pacifist, drawing upon texts old and new to make the link between the contemporary and specific on the one hand, and the timeless and absolute on the other. I believe what the world needs now is a message of healing, of moderation and shared humanity – and that is precisely what Blackford provides in this new work. It may take a while for his natural optimism to break through, but when it does, it is glorious. Drawing alarming parallels between the Christian-Muslim conflicts of 900 years ago and the comparable miseries of today, he forces his audience to look in the eye a profound, hideous truth: century after century, men abandon their shared humanity all too readily, using religious rhetoric to inspire nauseating atrocities. The texts used are alternately shaming and moving – and both the lyrical inspiration and the orchestration are of the highest level. 'Not In Our Time' is perhaps closer to Tippett than to Britten – rooted in tonality whilst pushing at its boundaries when anger strikes – but both influences are palpably there, without the slightest hint of it being derivative. Invention is all – and there is invention aplenty. This is a paean of and to hope, a proclamation of shared humanity and, above all, a great oratorio for the peacemakers. This is a serious piece, but infinitely rewarding. Frankly, the more people who listen to it, the better, happier and more at peace with itself the world will be."
~ Michael McManus, Gramophone