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Rave US reviews for York musician

Posted on 24 November 2014

Robert Hollingworth, Anniversary Reader in the University of York’s Music Department, directed ‘breathtaking’ performances of How Like an Angel in New York this Autumn.

How Like an Angel - White Light Festival performance (credit: Kevin Yatarola)

The show is a collaboration between I Fagiolini, one of the UK’s top classical vocal groups and a University Ensemble-in-Association, and Australian circus company Circa.

Combining acrobatics and music, How Like an Angel features seven acrobats from Circa performing above the eight singers of I Fagiolini in religious buildings.

Part of Lincoln Centre’s prestigious White Light Festival, How Like an Angel was performed over three dates in the James Memorial Chapel in Manhattan.  Premiered two years ago at the Perth International Arts Festival, performances have since taken place in a number of UK cathedrals.

The US debut performance of How Like an Angel earned glowing reviews, with the New York Times calling it ‘wondrous’ and the Wall Street Journal hailing it ‘astonishing and magnetic’.

Created by Yaron Lifschitz and Robert Hollingworth, Circa and I Fagiolini’s respective Directors, the initial idea for How Like an Angel was devised by Jonathan Holloway, former director of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival and now at Perth International Arts Festival.

Robert Hollingworth said: “The starting point of How Like An Angel was to make a show about our contemporary relationship to large sacred spaces which had been built for a very different time. The acrobats of Circa forged a very human relationship with the buildings while our music – from Renaissance motets, medieval monody, South African call and response music to contemporary commissions – worked with the acrobats and the spaces to make a multi-dimensional experience.

 “Circus and a-cappella vocal music functions in such fundamentally different ways that making something more than a soundtrack to the physical action initially challenged us. But what transformed the piece in the end is both groups’ commitment to each other and to the spaces they perform in.”

I Fagiolini are currently an Ensemble-in-Association with the Department of Music. This scheme gives music students the opportunity to work closely with top professional ensembles, coaching them on performance and interpretation, or helping with student compositions.

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