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Bach, the Universe & Everything, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment’s stimulating Sunday morning series, pairing Bach’s cantatas with scientific talks, returns with a very special edition filmed at Kings Place – the orchestra’s first physical gathering since the lock-down.
For most of us, the pandemic and social distancing have changed everything, but for those most excluded and vulnerable – very little has changed at all. One of the things it has changed is our awareness of how dependent we are on each other, from our friends and family to the whole web of networked relationships that we inhabit.
As the poet Roethke put it, ‘In a dark time, the eye begins to see’. We are bound together, just as an orchestra is bound to its audience. The science of human development is increasingly clear that our sense of selfhood and agency are created in and through networked contact. We find ourselves reflected in the minds of others and we imagine each other into existence. At a time when we are deprived of so much contact, our imaginations have been unleashed to think about the unspoken, the unexamined, and how we are enriched as we reverberate and resonate with others, across difference. In this talk, Dr Dickon Bevington discusses what it might mean when we return to ‘normal service’ – can we extend our curiosity relentlessly? – for it is in the other we find our truest selves, nowhere else.
The text of ‘Brich dem Hungrigen dein Brot’, BWV 39, is based on Isaiah 58: 7-8, about offering food to your hungry neighbours and offering shelter to those without a home.
Listen out for the chorus which starts with a step-motif that suggests the poor are staggering along in exhaustion, but then evolves to an intensely emotional, rapid fugue in two parts, depicting the warm welcome of shelter. The choice of this work is especially meaningful as this concert is the first time that the OAE has been able to return to its home venue of Kings Place, London since the lockdown began.