The Brilliant and the Dark

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Early in 2010 Eileen Simpson and Ben White invited the extraordinary 22 piece women's choir Gaggle to remix the music and lyrics of The Brilliant and the Dark, a 1969 cantata for women's voices. The new work was performed live at The Women's Libary in September 2010 with a second performance at the ICA in December 2010.

The Brilliant and The Dark takes as a starting point a cantata for women’s voices of the same name composed by Malcolm Williamson and Ursula Vaughan Williams, and first performed by 1,000 women volunteers at the Royal Albert Hall in 1969. The libretto approaches history from the Middle Ages to WWII through the eyes of women, via characters including witch-hunters, embroiderers, crusaders’ wives, plague stricken women, mourners and war workers.

The project was inititated for Out of the Archives curated by Anna Colin at The Women's Library London

For the exhibition Simpson and White produced and directed a new music video work featuring Gaggle and negotiated with copyright owners music publishers Josef Weinberger and the NFWI for permission to use elements from the orginal work. Filmed on location in The Women's Library exhibition hall, the video re-animates the 1969 performance through restaging situations – from the backstage preparations, to choreographed moments in the live event – which are documented in photographs held in the Library’s collection. The performers are seen in new costumes referencing the originals and amidst remade props.

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<videoflash type="vimeo" class="video800">11923601</videoflash>


Vimeo video page


The Brilliant and the Dark - Live at ICA

The Brilliant and the Dark - samples for remix

The Brilliant and the Dark - Vinyl

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We worked with Transgressive Records to release a live recording of the ICA performance on vinyl. The recording is released under creative commons attribution sharealike 3.0 - generating a new resource available for future use and features a B side of copyleft licensed samples and stripped down elements for remix.

The vinyl is available from Transgressive Records

Free download coming soon....