Throughout history, artists and philosophers have sought out solitude. They have pursued it as a retreat from the noise of daily life, or even because it was necessary for creation and self-discovery.
During COVID-19, social distancing and quarantining forced solitude on many people who weren't prepared for it or looking for it. Loneliness and its impact on mental health, particularly in older people, became a more widespread and high profile social issue than it had been before. For other people, this new-found solitude was a liberation. It was a break from the treadmill of daily commutes. Time to pursue hobbies. Space to consider what really mattered.
This new work brings together poetry, music and visual art in an uplifting and thought-provoking journey through J. S. Bach's iconic Goldberg Variations. Among the variations are poems that illuminate unusual angles on solitude from 19 authors ranging from Wordsworth, Woolf and Keats to Rilke and Hesse.
Sir Simon Russell Beale reading the poetry,
The Ysaÿe Trio playing their own arrangement of Bach's Goldberg Variations, and
Kristina Feldhammer in her own photographic artwork.
The Goldberg Variations: Meditations on Solitude was created, rehearsed, filmed and edited during lockdown. It is a new type of concert hall experience designed especially for audiences watching from home.
It is 83 minutes long and made in high definition. So please, find a comfortable place to sit and plug in your best earphones or speakers. You'll want to listen to this with the best audio you've got access to.
"An imaginative antidote to isolation... the texts certainly contained some stunning insights on solitude [...] The real glory of the film is the performance from the Ysaÿe Trio, who display an astounding virtuosity... hugely enjoyable." ★★★★ The Telegraph
This work is also featured in The Guardian's weekly "Lockdown listening: classical music and opera to stream at home" and in Apollo Magazine's weekly picks of digital projects providing virtual access to art and culture.
The work is part of a series developed by Greengage, which pushes the boundaries of existing digital technology to create the magic of shared performance experiences in theatre and music while concert halls around the world remain closed and millions remain in quarantine or self-isolation. All artists in Greengage productions are paid for their work.