The evening of the 1st April was marked by a new musical and theatrical showcase entitled ‘Transmission Choral’ which was held in the Scenic Stage Theatre of the Department of Theatre, Film and Television at the University. The performance was the culmination of a week-long artistic residency involving composer Orlando Gough, director Karen Gillingham, designer Hannah Sibbai, professional singers Rebecca Askew and Elaine Mitchener and York choir the Micklegate Singers.

The residency project took as a thematic departure point the science of disease transmission and in particular research undertaken by Professor of Microbial Evolution Michael Brockhurst and his laboratory. Two researchers from Professor Brockhurst’s lab gave short talks during the evening showcase event explaining some of this research to the audience.

The performance itself consisted of a series of set pieces introduced by the composer that ranged from more abstract soundscapes to specially-composed choral pieces and a strikingly innovative duet. The music consisted of melodically distinctive phrases which cleverly framed the words and built up into harmonically rich and complex textures over time as they were passed in canon between sections of the choir. Each of the pieces was cleverly staged with effective use of lighting and a few props. Pink rubber gloves were donned for a song about eating intensively reared cheap chicken and LED finger lights visually illustrated transmission of germs from one individual to another.

Words commonly used in the feedback from the audience were ‘beautiful’, ‘disturbing’, ‘wacky!’

The performance was held in memory of Becs Andrews. Becs was the creative lead on 'Transmission Dance', a strikingly original contemporary dance piece with cutting-edge interactive visual effects and a beguiling score which was shown at the 2015 York Festival of Ideas and inspired the current choral project and performance.