Audiences will have the chance to feel part of a new opera inspired by Siegfried Sassoon’s poems with an innovative 360-degree simulated experience of Garsington Opera’s Silver Birch on BBC Arts Digital from midday, Wednesday 08 November.

Part of the BBC Opera Season, this ground-breaking experience from BBC Arts Digital and Garsington Opera entitled Person 181, utilises 360-degree video capture and cutting edge ambisonic audio recording to simulate being part of the community opera. The technology will give audiences the experience of being on stage standing among the cast of 180 performers during a performance of Silver Birch, as well as unique behind the scenes access in the build up to the actual performance.

Silver Birch is an exciting new commission from leading UK composer Roxanna Panufnik, with a libretto by writer Jessica Duchen. Inspired by Siegfried Sassoon’s poems, and the testimony of a British soldier who recently served in Iraq, the piece illustrates the human tragedies of conflicts past and present. The opera chorus includes a variety of first time singers from various community groups including veterans and family members.

Silver Birch is a celebration of music, drama, poetry and dance and brings together professional singers with 180 members of the local community. Designed to appeal to everyone from age 8 upwards, Karen Gillingham, Creative Director of Garsington Opera’s Learning & Participation programme, directs and Douglas Boyd conducts. The production is also supported by Foley Artists from Pinewood Studios.

Person 181 will be available at along with three short ‘making of’ films, and at BBC Taster

Interview Concert: Duo Arnicans

St Paul’s Cafe Worthing, 2 November 2017

An unmistakeable magic was weaved into the sound waves and social atmosphere of the latest International Interview Concert at St Paul’s Cafe Worthing. DUO Arnicans’ new programme of seven singing cello pieces, played without a break, took the packed audience into a dream. And then their stirring Brahms Sonata No 2 for Cello and Piano turned from romance into passion the ambience of their connection with their avid listeners.

Cellist Florian Arnicans played from memory the first-half sequence of song and melody beyond words. Suddenly unaccompanied, he played cello legend Pablo Casals’ Song Of the Birds, riveting the full house in his own realisation of the unpublished score after listening himself to an original Casals recording. There were unexpected and revelatory instrumental effects. Then, out of the silence after its concluding sky-high trill, came pianist Arta Arnicane’s stealing steps of the following Habanera by Ravel , creating a halting expectation and sensuality that shot through the audience.

These top-notch young artistes from Zurich ? Florian a German, his spouse Arta a Latvian ? asserted categorically the level of artistry and performance in these innovative, interactive and inclusive concerts. This being the 11th in five years, the Interview Concerts in Worthing are already a precious biannual advancement of the classical music offering in West Sussex.

The musicians’ verbal communication skills in the interviewing lay another dimension on the audience experience. Arta and Florian brought humour, wisdom, insight and candidness in this additional connective and intimate showcase. Questions also came from the audience, who relished the fun when the organisers’ gifts to the artistes came to be opened, so capping entertainment in a compelling combination.

Music – ‘Programme Canción’: “The Cello Sings” – JS Bach, Arioso; Schubert, Ständchen; Mendelssohn, Lied ohne Worte Op.109 (Song without Words);  Dvorak, Melodie; Pablo Casals, Song of the Birds; Ravel, Pièce en forme de Habanera; Josef Suk, Serenade. After the interval: Brahms, Sonata for Cello and Piano No 2 in F Opus 99.

Richard Amey