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A music theatre work in one act

First performance 22 March 2013 at Forum Theatre, Malvern, England The Company

Aaron Jeffrey Stefano Giglioni James Hall László Rózsa Michael Clark Jamie Akers Ibrahim Aziz


the voices of Opera’r Ddraig


trombone ensemble performed by Gwyn Daniels

Creative team

Charlie Barber Andy Howitt Barnaby Dicker Alex Robertson Andy Hamer

composer choreographer filmmaker designer lighting designer

Technical team

Chris Wicks Leigh Kirk-Harris Andy Hamer Tom Smith James Clarke Jim Unwin

production manager technical support technical support cinematographer recording engineer recording engineer

performer performer countertenor bass recorder percussion & dulcimer theorbo viola da gamba

Our thanks to the following for their support of this production and tour: Arts Council Wales, Arts Council England, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, The Radcliffe Trust, Hinrichsen Foundation, Gibbs Charitable Trust, The Leche Trust With thanks to Tŷ Cerdd and Raymond Gubbay


1 Prologue – Kyrie & Ground

2 Chiaroscuro

3 At the hospital of Santa Maria del Spirito

4 Passacaglia

5 Inverted Image (camera obscura)

6 Releasing the sculpture No 1

7 Gloria

8 Bathing in the River Arno (Battle of Cascina No 1)

9 Deus autem noster

10 Alleluia

11 Still Life Supper

12 Sounding the alarm (Battle of Cascina No 2)

13 Perspective

14 Releasing the sculpture No 2

15 Ascension / Flying

16 Separating Darkness from Light

17 Epilogue – Kyrie & Ground

Genesis and Revelation

background and music for Michelangelo Drawing Blood

Inspired by Michelangelo’s sketches for the large-scale but never completed fresco The Battle of Cascina, Michelangelo Drawing Blood explores the musical and aesthetic world of the renowned renaissance artist. Taking Michelangelo’s sketches as a starting point, the music and libretto explore all aspects of the creation of the unfinished mural, including the artist’s daily life, the religious environment that surrounded him, the artistic techniques he employed and finally, the subject matter of what was to be the work’s focal point: a group of bathing Florentine soldiers surprised by the attacking Pisan army. Michelangelo is the true icon of a pivotal period in art history that saw composers of sacred music build ever more complex polyphonic structures around plainchant and other monophonic melodies both sacred and secular. Scored for an ensemble of period instruments that in some variety would have been familiar to Michelangelo, the work draws on the musical processes employed by Franco-Flemish composers

working in Italy during the sixteenth century and unites them with modern compositional procedures. The score also makes use of structural forms of the late Renaissance and early Baroque courtly dances such as the ground bass and the Passacaglia. It is arranged in a loose palindrome structure, with pairs of movements such as the Prologue and Epilogue and chiaroscuro and Separating Darkness from Light based on the same material. Thematic ideas that relate directly to Michelangelo’s work as an artist appear in several ways throughout the piece. Michelangelo lived and worked during a period of constant development within art and architecture. The realistic representation of depth and perspective, for example, was one of the major rediscoveries of Renaissance painting, having been replaced for centuries by the stylised depictions of the Middle Ages. In Inverted Image the subtitle camera obscura refers a scientific device that had been known since antiquity and began to be used by artists, possibly as early as the fifteenth century to aid detailed and realistic depictions of their environment. The device consists of a box or room with a hole in one side that allows light from an external scene to pass through it, striking a surface inside where it is reproduced, upside-down, but with color and perspective preserved.  Michelangelo Sonnet XXX (excerpt): Come luna da sè sol par ch’io sia; Chè gli occhi nostri in ciel veder non sanno Se non quel tanto che n’accende il sole. I am like the moon, alone, which our eyes cannot see in the heavens except that it is illumined by the sun.

Another development of Renaissance art was the so-called chiaroscuro effect, referred to in the second section of Michelangelo Drawing Blood, which denotes the use of stark contrast between light and darkness in painting in order to establish depth. The Battle of Cascina is featured in two of the pieces: Bathing in the River Arno and Sounding the Alarm. The subject matter of war and battle and the sense of impending danger and violence is symbolised through the use of the Latin hymn Dies Irae (“Day of wrath”), the sequence for the Roman mass of the dead. Texts from the Roman Catholic mass and office, such as the hymn Kyrie Eleison (“Lord have mercy – Christ have mercy – Lord have mercy”), which is set here to a new melody, are employed throughout the work, echoing the religious climate of Renaissance Florence. The Gloria, set to an original canon, is a hymn of praise, whilst the Alleluia setting is based on a melody that would have been sung at Eastertide following the Deus Autem Noster. Michelangelo strongly believed that he was divinely inspired and a conduit to God in creating his art, and the text of the antiphon Deus autem noster (“Our God is even in heaven: whatsoever He has wished, He has made”), is used here to echo this idea. It is again picked up in Separating Darkness from Light, which takes its title from a panel in the Sistine chapel that depicts God separating night and day; this time a verse from Psalm 18 (“The heavens declare the glory of God: and the firmament sheweth His handy-work”) is used to denote the divinity of the artist. These sacred texts are combined with fragments of Michelangelo’s own jottings, poems and sonnets. Still Life Supper is based on a shopping list scribbled on one of Michelangelo’s sketches: Pani due, un bochal di vino, una aringa, torregli, una insalata (“Two breads, a pitcher of wine, a herring, filled pasta, a salad”). At the heart of the work, meanwhile, stands Michelangelo’s own concept of ‘releasing a sculpture’ that lies concealed within a solid block of marble, an idea which he presents in a section of sonnet number 151, used in both versions of Releasing the Sculpture: Non ha l’ottimo artista alcun concetto che un marmo solo in sé non circonscriva col suo soverchio; e solo a quello arriva la man che obbedisce all’ intelletto.

Not even the best of artists has any conception that a single marble block does not contain within its excess, and that is only attained by the hand that obeys the intellect

Ascension uses a few lines from Michelangelo’s sonnet number 30 that seems to echo images of flying figures that are a recurring theme in his drawings: Volo con le vostr’ale senza piume; col vostr’ingegno al ciel sempre son mosso I fly with your wings, having none of my own; with your spirit toward heaven I am always moving

Biographies Jamie Akers

James began playing the lute while at Napier University, Edinburgh. Initially taught by Robert MacKillop he then studied at the Royal College of Music with Jakob Lindberg and at Trinity College of Music with Jacob Heringman and David Miller, with additional lessons from Paul O’Dette. He has performed throughout Europe with leading ensembles and soloists including Fretwork, the Scottish, English and Irish Chamber Orchestras, The King’s Consort, and Emma Kirkby. As a soloist he has performed in Scotland and England and Denmark performing largely Renaissance Lute repertoire. James has broadcast for BBC Radio 3, BBC 1, BBC News 24, France Musique and RTE Lyric (Ireland) and appeared in several productions at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. He has appeared on TV and film soundtracks including Robert Newman’s The History of the World Backwards and Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood. James was the first artist in residence with the renowned Scottish Ensemble with whom he performed widely and directed workshops and masterclasses throughout Scotland, including the Music for Change project at Polmont Young Offenders Institute which was widely praised in the Scottish media. Recent recordings include the premiere of Howard Skempton’s Lamentations, Alison Balsam’s Baroque Concerti and The Scottish Ensemble’s Eight Seasons.

Ibrahim Aziz viola da gamba

Ibi studied the gamba at Trinity College of Music London with Alison Crum. He also took private lessons with Sarah Cunningham and played in master classes for Jordi Savall and Wieland Kuijken. He won the college’s first Early Music Prize (2000) and their Conducting Prize (2003), later becoming the first student to win its prestigious Gold Medal on a period instrument (2005). He was a finalist in the 2009 International Bach-Abel viola da gamba competition in Koethen, Germany. Ibi plays with several period ensembles in the UK and abroad, most notably Sestina Consort, Charivari Agreable and The Maresienne Consort which he founded and with whom he has recorded for Signum Classics. Appearing regularly with The Rose Consort of Viols, he often works alongside distinguished musicians such as Catherine King, Clare Wilkinson, Evelyn Tubb, Dame Emma Kirkby, David Miller, the Deller Consort and Stile Antico. Ibi recently co-founded ‘Chelys’, a viol consort based in London comprising of Trinity alumni. He is in great demand as a teacher, appearing on courses around the world including the Irish Recorder and Viol Summer School, The Dartington International Summer School (with The Rose Consort of Viols), and the Benslow Music Trust courses in Hitchin.

Finally, the Epilogue features a short poem that perhaps offers us the most personal insight into the artist’s innermost thoughts and feelings: Caro m’è ‘l sonno, e più l’esser di sasso, mentre che ‘l danno e la vergogna dura: non veder, non sentir m’è gran ventura; però non mi destar, deh! parla basso. Slumber is sweet, but it were sweeter still To turn to stone while shame and sorrow last, Nor see, nor hear, and so be freed from ill; Ah, wake me not! Whisper as you go past! Taking a metaphorical scalpel to his life, Michelangelo Drawing Blood probes into the forces that drove his genius an obsession with human anatomy, a passionate response to the male body and an equally intense Christian faith. The process of creativity and the act of creation, from the book of Genesis to the revelation of figures entrapped in stone, is explored through a series of episodes both imagined and real.

Maja Palser, March 2013

In alphabetical order

Charlie Barber composer

Michael Clark percussion

Barnaby Dicker film maker

Charlie Barber has worked in a wide variety of musical genres: orchestral and chamber works, film, video, music-theatre and dance. His music draws on a wide range of influences and models bringing these together in a highly personal synthesis. Although the music of the American minimalists in the late 70s formed one of the starting points for his own music, equally important were the influences of World music and the use and deconstruction of the music of the past. An important and crucial element has been his work across a number of different artforms, including dance, film, installation and performance art. This has resulted in a rich series of collaborations with artists in other disciplines. His recent recordings and touring projects include: Ludwig, a musical tribute to Beethoven; music for Jean Cocteau’s Blood of a Poet, a surrealist classic of early cinema; Boulevard of Broken Dreams for string quartet; Salomé, for percussion quartet and voices written to accompany the 1923 film starring Alla Nazimova; and Afrodisiac, an exploration of ritual, love and magic through the cultures of Africa and the African diaspora. Currently a student at Royal Northern College of Music, Michael is in high demand with ensembles and companies including Scottish Opera, Sound Affairs and Futures Chamber Ensemble. He has worked with world renowned soloists such as percussionists Arthur Lipner and Victor Mendoza, saxophonist Rob Buckland and soprano Jane Irwin. With a keen interest in chamber music, Michael also performs extensively with Beat Route Percussion Duo, which is rapidly developing a reputation for excellence in music education. He enjoys a varied performing career and has already appeared in some of the country’s foremost venues including The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, and The Sage in Gateshead. Highlights from his career so far include performing the timpani part for a BBC recording of Enigma Variations, and playing in the 2012 tour of Charlie Barber’s Salomé. He has also performed in the extremely prestigious Cheltenham Music Festival, Buxton Festival and Three Choirs Festival. Barnaby Dicker holds a doctorate in avant-garde cinematography. In 2004, he worked with Sound Affairs creating a number of short videos for the Raw Goods tour that year. His film, Devolution (2008), a collaboration with Barber, has been shown at shown at Bath Film Festival (2008), Swn Festival, Cardiff (2008), ‘Film House’ at the National Museum of Wales, Aberystwyth (2008), AVPhD, Newport (2008), Framework Social, Swansea (2008) and West Dean College, Chichester (2010).

Stefano Giglioni performer

Born in Rome, Italy, Stefano studied in Rome and New York before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career as an actor. He now lives in London, and has appeared in film and television as well as working as a model.

James Hall countertenor

After graduating in Music at Cardiff University, James studied at the Royal College of Music with Eiddwen Harrhy. He was awarded the Sir Geraint Evans Prize in 2009 and again in 2010, and in 2012 was a finalist in the Brooks Van Der Pump English Song Competition 2012. Solo performances include Lotti’s Dixit Dominus and J S Bach’s Magnificat with Bishop’s Stortford Choral Society, Vivaldi’s Gloria and Durante’s Magnificat in St John’s, Smith Square, J S Bach’s St John’s Passion with Lavenham Sinfonia, Bach’s B Minor Mass at St Alban’s Abbey, and John Harle’s City Solace in Southwark Cathedral. In July 2011 James was invited to perform in the Dartington International Summer School’s production of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. Other operatic roles include Oronte Riccardo Primo (London Handel Festival, April 2012), the Military Governor A Night at the Chinese Opera (British Youth Opera) and three new roles in the premiere of three short operas by RCM composition students in collaboration with Tete-a-Tete Opera (May 2012).

Andy Hamer lighting designer

Andy Hamer was educated in Fine Art, during which time he developed an interest in time based medium and installation sculpture. A fine tuning of his scenographic practice was achieved during the post-graduate study at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, London where he developed skills in film making and digital media. Further training opportunities lead him to study opera design at DAMU, School of Theatre and Fine Art, Prague. Hamer has a diverse portfolio of work: sculpture & installation site specific work, dance theatre and film. He has worked on projects shown at the Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Robin Hayward Dance Theatre, The Place; Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre and the Edinburgh Festival.

Andy Howitt choreographer

Andy Howitt began his career as a dancer with the Fife Youth Dance Company before going on to study at Laban Centre for Movement and Dance in London. He worked with a number of dance companies and in 1999 became Artistic Director of YDance (formerly Scottish Youth Dance) In recent years he has created a number of dance productions especially for young people. He has recently taken up a new post in Australia.

Aaron Jeffrey performer

Aaron Jeffrey is a freelance dancer, choreographer and Fine Artist currently living in Edinburgh, Scotland. Before his dance training, Aaron gained his BA in Fine Art from Duncan of Jordenstone College of Art & Design, Dundee University. This has fed his approach to creating dance and has sculpted his choreographic practice. He is interested in cross collaborative approaches that fuse different disciplines in order to perform and create new work.

Alex Robertson designer

Alex is a designer of set and costumes for both theatre and television. After growing up in Cornwall and attending Falmouth College of Arts, Alex then trained in Theatre Design at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Cardiff, graduating in 2005. Since then, he has worked on numerous and varied productions around the country and into Europe, based mainly in Cardiff and London, his work has covered many forms of theatre and television, ranging from small to large scale productions, touring pieces, site specific and puppetry works.

László Rósza bass recorder

László is currently studying towards a postgraduate degree at Royal Academy of Music. In 2012 he won the prestigious AHRC Postgraduate Award. As a soloist and chamber musician he has played with leading early music ensembles, such as the Elbipolis Hamburg, the Camerata Trajectina or the Bassano Ensemble Berlin. Recently he performed Telemann’s C major recorder concerto under the leadership of Elizabeth Wallfish. He had the opportunity to gain orchestral experience through projects with Laurence Cummings and as a guest member of the Hamburg Symphonic Orchestra. In 2010, he formed Duo Équivoque with pianist Ly Tran-Phung. László is passionate about contemporary music, he enjoys working with young composers and has premiered several new compositions.

Sound Affairs is a non-profit making organisation that produces recordings, performances and concerts new music, dance and digital art. Please visit to find out more about our work or join our mailing list. Registered charity No: 1074890 Company Registration No: 2956354

For Sound Affairs Charlie Barber Artistic Director Maja Palser Administrative Secretary Judi Hughes Creative Consultant Cathy Morris Marketing, Press & PR Consultant Graham Hill Digital Media Consultant Board of Management Aidan Plender (Chair), Andy Bolton, Mark Brough, Jennifer Hill, Craig Roberts, Robert Tarren, Matthew Thistlewood A CD recording of the music for Michelangelo Drawing Blood is available online at



Friday 22 March

MALVERN Forum Theatre

Wednesday 27 March CARDIFF Sherman Cymru Thursday 25 April

LONDON Southbank Centre, Purcell Room

Friday 26 April

MANCHESTER Royal Northern College of Music

Saturday 27 April

LIVERPOOL Unity Theatre

Friday 3 May


Tuesday 7 May

CAMBRIDGE Mumford Theatre

Wednesday 8 May

SPALDING South Holland Centre

Thursday 9 May


Friday 10 May

SWANSEA Taliesin

Friday 17 May

BRECON Theatr Brycheiniog

Friday 14 June

CHESTER Festival

Wednesday 10 July


Thursday 11 July

CHELTENHAM Music Festival

Michelangelo Drawing Blood - programme 2013