Song of Contagion: A Music Sampler

This sequence of 20 short videos was originally assembled to give a flavour of the music in the show. (The full 10-minute sequence can be played continuously via a Playlist here - best in full screen resolution!) It will be revised with video clips from the actual Wilton's performance later in the summer, when a full-length DVD will also be published.

Singer Davina Wright introduces the show, set in Cable Street in London’s East End (location of historic Wilton’s Music Hall), where cholera was rife in Victorian times, eventually eradicated by building the sewage system London still benefits from today:

               
     

Sitar and voice evoke the rivers of West Bengal, where no such steps have been taken, the water is still polluted, and cholera remains endemic:

               
     

Bengali singer (Akash Sultan) and Indian jazz slide trumpet (Shanti Paul Jayasinha), in a classical Indian raga, make a plea for their voices to be heard:

               
     

Music can be created from graphs, and this is how the ‘story’ of HIV/AIDS will be expressed (more details here). In this example, even the musical score (separate lines for trumpets, saxophones and trombones) looks like a graph!:

               
     

Throughout the work, the voices of instrumentalists are as important to the drama as those of singers. Here soprano saxophone (Chris Biscoe) engages in active ‘debate’ with trumpet (Claude Deppa) and alto sax (Tony Kofi):

               
     

Anger is not the only response to equality and indifference: voices can be beautiful but no less compelling, as in this deceptively dreamy warning against apathy and complacency, interweaving three women’s voices:

               
     

Eleggua, Yoruba shape-shifter and spirit of journeys, is summoned up by Latin percussion in a quest to bring dengue fever and the Zika virus to public attention:

               
     

Eleggua appears in another guise – an implacable border guard (Jonathan André) who defends his territory to prevent the diseases spreading:

               
     

The quest to attract public attention begins in Central Africa with gently infectious, lilting song (Jacqueline Lwanzo), before continuing to the Caribbean and South America:

               
     

Eleggua hits the headlines at last with Zika, and celebrates in true African style, with many drummers (Brian Abrahams, Claude Deppa, Carlos Fuentes, Yousuf Ali Khan, Jonathan André):

               
     

A reporter (Richard Scott) describes the scene in a devastated city somewhere in Central Asia:

               
     

Refugees from many from different countries try to preserve their morale by keeping their culture alive, as in this typically angular Balkan dance song (Maja Rivić):

               
     

A Portuguese conscript soldier serving in Africa and suffering from shell-shock is attended by an army doctor (Richard Scott):

               
     

A South Asian improvisation on a classical raga (tabla: Yousuf Ali Khan) sets the scene for an incident in the Bangladesh/Pakistan civil war:

               
     

A Bangladeshi soldier (Delwar Hossain Dilu) describes the destruction around his unit in the heat of battle and gives vent to his forebodings:

               
     

Experiences of conflict, displacement and loss of family are universal across the world today; here three contrasted women’s voices lament the aftermath of war:

               
     

The narrative is taken up by instrumentalists – here by two fiery jazz trumpeters in animated conflict:

               
     

In a more measured comment on conflict two brilliant alto saxophones (Chris Biscoe and Tony Kofi) exchange their views:

               
     

The whole big band ensemble, with trumpet and saxophone soloists (Claude Deppa, Tony Kofi), add their voices to the stories of traumatised soldies and refugees:

               
     

The show ends with an elegiac meditation on the power of music, and its limitations, in resolving conflict and bringing solace to those afflicted by trauma, illness and disease:

               

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