Present Tense Theatre Works RICERCARThe ordered artistry of JS Bach meets the explosive energy and mania of contemporary theatre: RICERCAR is a 21st century operatic event crafted and composed for Theatre Works in a world premiere season from 2 December 2015.

RICERCAR is created and directed by Nathan Gilkes and Bryce Ives (Present Tense), two artists who have a growing reputation for producing surprising and substantial experiences for audiences, artists and communities around Australia and increasingly across the globe. They are joined by pop violin and drums duo to create a vivid celebration of life, death, love, memory and legacy.

“In RICERCAR we take the transcendence and transit of the works of Bach, particularly his preludes and fugues, in order to create a theatrical operatic event,” says Bryce Ives. “It’s impressionistic and joyous, the sounds and images leave time for the audience to examine humanity’s kaleidoscopic relationship to music, time, space and the universe.”

“This bold, impressionistic work is a message of hope and warning, a reminder of our responsibility and legacy. It’s not a work about Bach, it’s a work from Bach to now by us.”

An intense live music performance composed to be seen, heard and experienced inside and outside of Theatre Works, all elements of RICERCAR music, design and choreography – are designed based on loops, number and patterns. The collaboration between mathematics and music fuels a sensory and mysterious adventure for the audience. Bach’s notion that restrictions create freedom has led Present Tense to compose a 96 minute operatic experience, presented in twelve movements.

In researching and composing RICERCAR, Gilkes and Ives became fascinated by the mathematical genius of Bach, and the story behind the composition of one of Bach’s most complex pieces of music: a six voiced fugue entitled Ricercar A6. Fredrick the Great gave JS Bach an impossible single musical theme, 21 notes in length and the challenge laid down to the composer was immense: improvise this theme into a musical fugue, live and without preparation.

“The fugue is the most complex form of music using counterpoint,” says director Nathan Gilkes. “In reality few musicians can compose with this sort of complexity, and fewer yet can improvise a complex fugue live on the spot.”

“On the night that Fredrick the Great met Bach, the great composer achieved the impossible: he improvised a three voice fugue on the spot, which simply put is beyond impressive. Two weeks later he composed a six voice fugue using the same theme, which is genius. This story and music is the beginning point of RICERCAR.”

Creators / Directors: Nathan Gilkes and Bryce Ives  Collaborating Artists: Shauntai Batzke, Laura Burzacott, Aubrey Flood, Simon Gilkes, Daniel Han, Karen Ireson, Bryce Ives, Tammy Marshall, David McNamara, Emma Roberts, The Twoks (Xani Kolac and Mark Leahy), Rosie Westbrook  Visual Artist: Jennifer Tran  Lighting Designer: Richard Vabre

Theatre Works, 14 Acland Street, St Kilda
Season: 2 – 12 December 2015
Bookings: (03) 9534 3388 or online at: www.theatreworks.org.au

For more information, visit: www.theatreworks.org.au or www.presenttenseensemble.com for details.

Image: courtesy of Present Tense and Theatre Works