A new sound installation by acclaimed composers Philip Miller and Thuthuka Sibisi, alongside a selection of large-scale photographic portraits of members of The African Choir from 1891.

In this work in progress, Miller and Sibisi re-create a performance of The African Choir during their tour in late 19th Century Victorian Britain as a contemporary sonic interpretation.

Working with 14 young professional South African singers, the composers re-invent songs based upon the original concert programme performed by the African Choir at a gathering of the Royal Hygiene Society in London in the summer of 1891. These scores are musically arranged from a contemporary perspective: God Save the Queen will be sung in the South African a-capella style of “Isicathamiya”, and Rossini’s Stabat Mater in a 1950s soft shoe/kwela–style.

Without an original recording in existence, the composers had the freedom to reimagine the repertoire through improvisation and “workshopping” with the singers, rather than trying to reproduce a documentary reconstruction of the concert. Thus the The African Choir 1891 Re-Imagined is conceived as a multi-track performance for a new contemporary audience. The fourteen singers chosen by the composers are drawn from existing choral groups and opera schools in South Africa; each singer corresponds with a counterpart with his or her vocal type in the original fourteen-member African Choir, who toured Britain between 1891 and 1893. The portraits in the gallery were first shown in Autograph ABP’s acclaimed exhibition Black Chronicles II (2014), in association with the Hulton Archive, a division of Getty Images.

Presented by Autograph ABP in partnership with UCL’s Institute of Advanced Studies and the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Art.

Event Date: 21/09/2016 – 01/10/2016

Venue details: Autograph ABP | Rivington Place | London EC2A 3BA

Organisers: Autograph ABP

Event website: Sound / image installation The African Choir 1891 Re-Imagined

Event cost: Free

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