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  • Miles Hedley

A CHANGE OF SEASON at the National Maritime Museum

Updated: May 24, 2022

What a stunning idea to create a concert programme teaming Vivaldi’s joyful Four Seasons with Melting Shifting Liquid World, Hollie Harding’s extraordinary meditation on environmental catastrophe. The first was written in the last days of a world in which Man was subservient to Nature, the second at a time when Man is risking his very existence by seeking to turn the tables on Nature.

And how appropriate that the concert, entitled A Change Of Season and curated by Trinity Laban head of strings Nic Pendlebury, should be staged on the Great Map floor of the National Maritime Museum to underline the enormity of the disaster our species is facing.

Harding’s immersive work had its world premiere at the same venue in 2019. Its reception at the time was rapturous and its impact huge. Three years on, its brilliance is undimmed but its relevance has increased exponentially. And the contrast of its gorgeous soundscape - recreated by Pendlebury on electric viola, the über-talented Trinity Laban String Ensemble and taped harmonies, drones, sea-recordings, oscillating sine-waves, poetry and white noise – with the apocalyptic warnings that inspired it is more marked than ever.

Add to that the pre-industrial and celebratory innocence of Vivaldi’s masterpiece, wonderfully performed by Trinity Laban students in a whirl of movement, music, poetry and even fireworks, and you had a concert that was not only technically magnificent but also emotionally, spiritually and politically devastating.

An enthralled audience left the museum uplifted by beauty – but also grimly aware that unless we act immediately and universally to protect our environment, both these works might turn out to be elegies for a lost paradise.


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