Commissioned by Opera North and the Royal Shakespeare Company, this haunting, dramatic piece for chamber group and voices weaves Gavin Bryars’ music through eight of Shakespeare’s most meditative sonnets. The ensemble includes Bryars himself, tenor John Potter, American soprano Claron McFadden and cult Dublin singer-songwriter Gavin Friday. The selected poems focus on themes of time and memory, and each sonnet is spoken by Friday before Potter and McFadden sing Bryars’ setting, allowing for both close contemplation of Shakespeare’s words, and the uncovering of unexpected readings for them.
Opening the programme, The North Shore is “a kind of response to the Idea of North”, inspired by the coastline around Whitby where Bryars spent summers as a child.
Following a £9.5 million redevelopment, Middleton Hall re-opened its doors in late 2016 as a 400-seater concert hall. The versatile venue is used for classical music concerts, and with adaptable acoustics, it is also used as a surround-sound cinema and theatre space.