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Genesis reborn – Sir Simon Rattle conducts film composer Nathaniel Shilkret’s composite work of ‘broken promises’

11 January, 2018 — By Sebastian Taylor

Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1563

Rarely performed since its 1945 debut, the Genesis Suite is being revived by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Simon Rattle at the Barbican on Saturday evening, January 12.

Originally commissioned by film composer Nathaniel Shilkret, the piece is a composite suite by seven leading composers of the time, including rivals Arnold Schoenberg and Stravinsky.

Shilkret’s aim was to bring together the “high art” émigré composers in the US fleeing persecution with the popular culture of Hollywood scores.

Saturday’s performance is being accompanied by visual projections conceived by creative director Gerard McBurney. “It’s a fascinating work because it’s a very political gesture – it’s a Holocaust protest,” says McBurney. “The story focuses on Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel and the Tower of Babel, all of which are a series of broken promises. So, for me, this is a story about the lies that our leaders tell us.

“It’s a very dark piece.”

• Music of Exile: Genesis Suite and Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, LSO/Sir Simon Rattle, Rattle, Barbican, Silk Street, EC2, 7.30pm, 020 7638 8891,   

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