LONDON Symphony Orchestra

photos by Mark Allan

conductor — Sir Simon Rattle

creative director —  GERARD McBURNEY

narrators — Helen McCrory, Simon Callow, Rodney Earl Clarke, Sara Kestelman

Sir Simon Rattle conducts two works from the 1940s, including a rarely-heard collaboration between some of the biggest composers of the day.

1945: the world is reeling from war and persecution on a scale never seen before. Seven composers – many of them Jewish, with Schoenberg and Stravinsky among them – have left Europe, taking refuge in the US and finding opportunities in Hollywood’s glittering film industry.

These seven composers came together to create something never heard before: the Genesis Suite, musically depicting dramatic stories from the first book of the Bible. It’s a work of incredible ambition with political themes that still resonate in 2017. The Tower of Babel, Adam and Eve, the Flood – these are stories of displaced peoples, broken promises and destruction. 

And in this rare performance these stories of Genesis, war and our current political climate will be brought to life through visual projections by Gerard McBurney and Mike Tutaj, transforming the Barbican Hall in a new realisation as innovative as the Genesis Suite itself.

Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra can also be heard as an expression of his own emigré experience. Displaced to America, lacking contacts, and with money short, he was given the opportunity to write for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. True to its title, he lets every section shine in this joyful celebration of orchestral music, and perhaps the new-found political freedom he held in his new home.

Produced by LSO and Barbican