The Turner Contemporary foyer with its huge sea facing window was a stunning setting for the first performance of Jonathan Hering’s new choral piece Lachrymose.
As the audience are asked to stare out across an angry sea, the sky as if on cue turns a gentle shade of pink. This dichotomy of both beauty and danger goes to the heart of a piece which both celebrates and commemorates …a piece about the sea and its people. The synergy between the piece and place had for me echoes both of Eastern Angles Dark Earth and Aldeburgh’s Grimes on the Beach.
Unseen and above us a choir of 100 community singers drawn from across Kent give voice to Hering’s score. Starting softly the voices mimic the sea itself, before calls seem to echo both the cry of the birds swirling in and out of view and the voices of those whose lives had been lost to the sea (at one point the choir intone the names found on Margates WW1 memorial).
Gathered around Juan Munoz curious and somewhat unsettling Conversation Piece the audience find themselves listening in on a conversation between choir and sea. Its a conversation which is at times tranquil, at times full of pain and despite the hope of the end piece ‘Light of light, give us to see’ its a conversation that never gets fully resolved.
In situ, heard as it was conceived, its a moving, meditative experience full of beauty and sadness.
Lachrymose was composed by Jonathan Hering; Conceived and produced by Tania Holland Williams in association with Turner Contemporary as part of the New Music Plus scheme managed by the PRS for Music Foundation in association with the hub.