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Haydn’s Creation with Academy of Ancient Music at the Barbican Centre

September 2021

Under the new music direction of Laurence Cummings, the Academy of Ancient Music and The Barbican Centre approached the studio to discuss the idea of featuring visuals for Laurence’s first appearance with the orchestra in the Barbican Concert Hall.

The chosen piece was ‘The Creation’ by Joseph Haydn. In itself a very ambitious piece, Haydn’s ‘The Creation’ is an oratorio in 3 acts that tells the story of the creation of man and the universe in one hour and 45 minutes.

We kick-started the project with a very inspiring meeting with Laurence, who walked us through the piece in detail. This was a very important moment in the pre-production process as it allowed us to understand which moments Laurence wanted us to underline and we got to appreciate the piece more and more. Laurence’s way of describing the piece set us on a beautiful brain storming journey.

We worked hard to find distinctive images and moods to go with all the different stages of the creation. The biggest challenge was to evolve from one movement of the piece to the other as the sung recitative moments in the libretto were quite well defined and clear cut in contrast to the more flowing medlodic choruses.

Key to overcoming this challenge was a careful use of Notch in conjunction with a compositional study of content over the architecture of the Hall.

The Barbican Hall features a striking wooden wall at the back of the stage. The intricate pattern of the wall was a source of endless inspiration for us. We tried to use the shapes in the wall as much as we could to define the Universe that was created in stages during the piece. Using Photogrammetry We scanned the wall and used this 3rd grid to guide us through the design process.

It was great to work with the excellent Barbican Technical Team which ensured technical rehearsals went as smoothly as they could considering the limited time we had at our disposal.  Jason Kew, one of the Barbican lighting designers, worked his magic along with our projections.

The show was broadcasted live for the Barbican live series and we held creative conversations from the very beginning with the very experienced Rhodri Hew, director of the live stream and worked in conjunction throughout to make sure the Live Stream would be as fulfilling as the live experience.

The team have been invited to return next year to help create the next autumn concert in October 2023.

The rig consisted of 3 Epson projectors and a Disguise Media server.

Production Company: Pixel-Lux
Creative Direction: Nina Dunn, Matthew Brown, Laura Salmi

Conductor: Laurence Cummings

Video Designer: Matthew Brown for PixelLux

Visual Dramaturgy: Laura Salmi and Kirsty Harris
Notch Designers: Matthew Brown, Luigi Sardi, Adam Lansberry
Animator: Matthew Brown
Video Programmer: Luigi Sardi
Video Engineers: Harrison Cooke, Matt Somerville
Lighting Designer: Jason Kew

Equipment Supplier: Blue-i Theatre Technology

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