The experience began with the arrival to the venue, where music was spatialized so that as guests neared the Aston Webb Building, walked through its rotunda foyer and into the Great Hall, they heard different and complementary organ compositions which built from a few simple notes to a full organ melody. The main part of the event was divided into four different acts, timed around the different courses of the entirely vegetarian menu, which was created using locally sourced ingredients. Thy light, thy flight quoted and collaged a number of different texts.
The main part of the event opened with a chorus of bird warblers filling the space with birdsong, followed by some tunes on the recorder from The Bird Fancyer’s Delight, or Choice Observations And Directions Concerning the Teaching of all sorts of Singing Birds after the Flagelet and Flute [recorder] when rightly made as to Size and tone, with Lessons properly Compos’d within the Compass and faculty of each Bird, viz. for the Canary-Bird, Linnet, Bull-Finch, Wood-Lark, Black-Bird, Throustill [thrush], Nightingale and Starling. The whole fairly Engraven and Carefully Corrected published in 1717.
The first act collaged poems by Jennifer K. Sweeney, Rumi, and ee cummings; alongside fragments from Confucius' Analects and Marcus Aurelius' Meditations.
The second act featured a composite Shakespearean monologue, made up of speeches by Hal in Henry IV Part 1 and Edmund in King Lear.
The third act took inspiration from Tim Etchell's That Night Follows Day, playing with the repetition of 'You tell us that...'. The list was composed with contributions from the ensemble cast, collecting a variety of statements the younger generations 'hear' from their elders, teachers and those in authority. After this section guests were invited to write down a personal promise to the younger generations, which were later collected by the ensemble.
The fourth act took inspiration from Forced Entertainment's All Tomorrow's Parties, listing a whole variety of possible future scenarios and playing with the incantatory repetition of "in the future... or in the future...'. In the background, there was a projection of news clips from the days prior to the event, taken from euronews' programme No Comment.
The event finished with some brief extracts from Y Gododdin by Bard Aneirin and The Vision of Piers Plowman by William Langland - jewels of Old and Mediaeval British literature. Finally, a selection of the pledges and promises written by the guests was read out; whilst the ensemble handed them back to the guests, swapping them so that everyone was able to take a different pledge home as a memento of the gathering.
The soundtrack for the main part of the event was made up of organ pieces and covers, from Benjamin Britten to Michael Nyman and Philip Glass, from Pink Floyd to Radiohead and Mary Poppins' 'Feed the Birds'. The exit moment was musically spatialized like the arrival, but instead of organ music guests were played out by three different Ukrainian Orthodox chants, which became increasingly uplifting as guests exited the building. [The soundtrack is available here, and the scripthere]