Patrick Giles was a crisis worker for an AIDS charity in the 1980s, constantly losing people he knew about the disease. He discovered that life was hopeless. During this dark time, a flash of comfort for those affected came from an unusual source: the music of the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt.
He later reflected: “The relentlessly severe, repetitive and deeply inspiring sound of Tabula Rasa had a powerful impact on my dying friends and their assistants.” It sounds like the movement of the angels’ wings, “one customer once told me that I fell in love secretly.
“Music brought comfort to many of us after we had given up the possibility itself. People were playing it at night, during meditation and especially when they were in the hospital and feared they were dying. patients in coma could still hear, and several people with AIDS asked Pärt on his deathbed. ”
Giles’s words were later recalled by music critic Alex Ross in The New Yorker. The article provoked something for theater producer Matthew Lenton.
Lenton said: “There is a lot of silence and space in the work of Arvo Pärt, and you can actually put yourself in the gaps between the notes.” The question was, what can I add to the music? would allow Vanishing Point to give theatrical context to music.
“It made me think of the role that music and, more generally, art plays in our lives and the offer one person makes to another when offering care, especially within a care system.”
Lenton is far from the only person who continues to be inspired by Pärt’s music, as blogger Scottish Ensemble discovered at Rosie Davies residence during a deep dive into YouTube’s comments about her music.
But the show is not purely Lenton’s vision. His theater company Vanishing Point worked with the Scottish Ensemble String Orchestra to create Tabula Rasa, including an intense development week on the Glasgow Tramway, where participants covered a variety of topics, from their beliefs about social care, to the concept of snow, up to TK Maxx.
For Lenton, working closely with Scottish Ensemble played an important role in shaping Tabula Rasa.
He said: “All the musicians had ideas about the form of the show and its theme and were willing to try different approaches. It really helped me to see what the show could be and what not.
“It’s important to note that they also took the actors and me through the mechanics of music, explaining how it’s structured and how something so simple can seem and feel so complex.”