Petworth Festival: I Fagiolini – Rewilding the Waste Land

The current generation finds us blessed with a crop of fine British vocal groups. In addition to three scheduled performances by the Gesualdo Six later in the festival, we welcome back the first amongst equals, I Fagiolini – directed by Robert Hollingworth. 

I Fagiolini’s innovative and imaginative programming has constantly won plaudits around the world, signature projects in recent years having included The Full MonteverdiTallis in Wonderland, a new way of hearing polyphony with live and recorded voices; and Simunye, a cross-cultural South African collaboration. 

Jointly inspired by T.S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land, which was written in the wake of the catastrophic upheavals of the First World War and the ‘Spanish Flu’, and mindful of David Attenborough’s ‘witness statement’ plea to Re-Wild: Re-Wilding The Waste Land is I Fagiolini’s creative response to a number of contemporary issues, mixing music for voices with poetry as musical desolation flowers into a subtly positive outpourings of old and new music. 

This programme intersperses poetry readings with music from the Renaissance through to new commissions written specially for the group. The shadowy world of the Tenebrae Responsories by Spanish master Victoria – sung at their rarely heard but intended lower pitch – is present throughout the programme. Also from the late 16th century, William Byrd’s Deus, venerunt gentes chillingly describes a land wasted through intolerance. Out of this flow further premières by Joanna Marsh, and, reflecting Indian motifs in The Waste Land, Shruthi Rajasekar’s Ganga’s Peace. The Joanna Marsh work sets John F.Deane’s The World is Charged, itself a response to Gerald Manley-Hopkins’ sonnet God’s Grandeur, which is sung in Kenneth Leighton’s rapturous setting – truly one of the great choral settings of our time. In short, a sequence of music old and new, and poetry that mirrors the cycles of creation, encouraging reflection and hope.

Tickets: £32, £24, £14, £9 (18 and under £5, FREE in adult £9 seats). Visit the Petworth Festival website for further details

Photo: I Fagiolini (credit: Matthew Brodie)

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