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Gavin Bryars at 80

Black and white photo of Gavin Bryars playing the double bass and James Woodrow on the guitar

Celebrate the pioneering composer's 80th birthday, with some of Gavin Bryars’s most iconic works, performed by the Gavin Bryars Ensemble.

In Bryars’s experimental opera, Doctor Ox introduces a gas into a sleepy Flemish village. Everyone and everything becomes sped up, and chaos ensues. Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet is built around a hypnotic loop of a homeless man singing lines from a hymn. ‘After minutes of this eerie solo vocal, Bryars – with incredible focus and delicacy – introduces a swelling orchestral pattern to accompany the fragile voice’ (Guardian). Over 50 years it has gone through an evolution, with no two performances sounding exactly alike.

We also hear a selection of shorter works, from pieces that bridge early music with 20th-century experimentation to the Epilogue from Bryars’s suite Wonderlawn, an instrumental lullaby-without-words that brings the evening to a close. David Wordsworth, who has known Bryars for more than 25 years, conducts the performance.

This performance will finish at approximately 9.50pm, including a 20-minute interval

Produced by the Barbican

Digital programme

Black and white photo of musicians from the Gavin Bryars Ensemble

Gavin Bryars at 80

Tonight we celebrate the birthday of visionary composer Gavin Bryars, with music that evokes some of the profoundest emotions. Read our free digital programme to find out more.

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