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Asko|Schönberg Premieres Richard Ayres's No. 56 (Islands) in Amsterdam

Dec. 21, 2022

On December 8, Asko|Schönberg presented the world premiere of Richard Ayres's No. 56 (Islands) at the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam in partnership with the BredaPhoto and Nest (comprised of the mother-daughter duo, Wiesje Peels and daughter Trijntje Keijser) who designed the art staging. Islands combines live acoustic music, electronics, and a major theatrical installation bringing together expressive art, photography, performance and video with spectacular results.

The performers explain: "Islands started off as an idea for a sort of do-it-yourself kit to construct your own dream island; smart and inspirational in times of global uncertainty. The notion was inspired by the book The Atlas of Remote Islands by German author Judith Schalansky and the memories of his childhood that this reawakened in Richard Ayres. Growing up by the Atlantic coast, he spent childhood nights zooming across the seven seas with his bed as an imaginary boat. Creating all sorts of non-existent islands was part of the composer’s thought-experiment, prompted in times of the Corona pandemic and climate crisis."

The composer notes: "Perhaps, I thought, the ancient art of dreaming or imagining might be the future of travel if our planet is to survive. An interesting thought-experiment."

Asko|Schönberg offers a preview of Richard Ayres's Islands

Additionally, Staatstheater Mainz presents nine performances of Richard Ayres and Lavinia Greenlaw's opera, Peter Pan. The production, conducted by Hermann Bäumer and directed by Nina Kühner, will be in repertory through February 16.

Based on the classic story by J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan brings to life the boy who never grew up. Ayres’s score is characteristic in its extraordinary high energy and extremes of register. The music tumbles and soars, carrying the action quickly from the nursery into the stormy skies, and on to the battlefields of Neverland with its Lost Boys, Pirates and Indians. Portrayed through Ayres’s musical non sequiturs and juxtapositions, the children’s wildness and brutality is simultaneously comic and disquieting. The composer’s gift for lyricism shines through at other times: "Mother’s lullaby" and "Wendy’s song about home" are moments of stunning beauty.

Listen to Richard Ayres's Resting Songs (2017):

Sterre Konijn and Orkest De Ereprijs, led by Clark Rundell, perform Richard Ayres's Resting Songs.

To learn more about Richard Ayres, visit:

Richard Ayres
No. 56 (Islands) (2022)
for ensemble

Peter Pan (No. 45)
opera in two acts
Libretto and English text by Lavinia Greenlaw,
based on the story by J. M. Barrie
Peter Pan · countertenor - Wendy · soprano - Mr Darling (Father) / Captain Hook · bass - Mrs Darling (Mother) / Tiger Lily, alto - John · tenor - Michael · soprano - Nana (Dog) / Starkey (Pirate) · baritone - Smee (Pirate) · tenor - Nibs · tenor (also in Lost Boys Choir) - Tootles · tenor (also in Lost Boys Choir) - Twins (Slightly & Curley) · 2 basses (also in Lost Boys Choir) - Lost Boys (male or children's chorus) - Pirates (male chorus)

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