Black Angels sees the Collective pair together two astonishing works; George Crumbs Black Angels: Thirteen Images from the Dark Land, and Schubert’s String Quartet in D Minor ‘Death and the Maiden’.
American composer George Crumb wrote his Black Angels in 1970 during the Vietnam War, as is referenced in the Latin inscription ‘in tempore belli’ or, ‘in time of war’. The work is structured around the numbers 13 and 7, traditionally numbers that are related to destiny and fate, and features unusual instrumentation of electric string instruments, crystal glasses and suspended tam-tam gongs, all of which depict various elements of warfare in the thirteen images. Schubert’s Death and the Maiden is quoted more than once in the work, poignantly so on the last page.
Crumb said ‘Black Angels was conceived as a kind of parable on our troubled contemporary world… The image of the "black angel" was a conventional device used by early painters to symbolize the fallen ange’”.
Schubert composed his String Quartet in D minor in 1824, when he was already gravely ill and knew he didn’t have long left to live. In the second movement which is made of a theme and variations, Schubert quotes an earlier written song Death and the Maiden, giving the quartet its name. The work was premiered in a private home in 1826, but wasn’t published until 1831, three years after Schubert’s death. The quartet’s theme links so strongly to what Schubert was going through when he wrote it, make its breadth and beauty all the more astounding.
Manchester Collective is redefining how a new generation of audiences engage with the arts in the UK. Recently described by the Yorkshire Post as a "powerful, moving, & extraordinary" addition to the UK music scene, Manchester Collective produces world-class, innovative, and outward facing musical experiences for new audiences across Britain. Their thrilling live performances, allied with daring programming and a brazen approach to convention, have seen the Collective reach more than 300,000 people across their first three seasons.
Manchester Collective performs Black Angels at Leeds Town Hall in the Crypt on Friday 22 February. Tickets are priced at £19.06 (£5.30 concessions) and are available from the Box Office on 0113 317 0318, or book online here