Peter Batchelor: composer, sound designer

Arnaut Saunningi / Skeleton Woman

for story teller and stereo tape • May 1999, c.15'




This year's BEAST spring festival gave us the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of a new collaboration between storyteller Graham Langley and composer Peter Batchelor.

Arnaut Saunningi is an Inuit tale of old tribal intolerance transformed into love by time and compassion, underlaid throughout by the theme of the sea and those who live by it.

Pete Batchelor has created a tape piece which draws on the essence of the sea without any explicit quotation of water sounds, and which also carries strongly the emotional content of the tale.

In performance, the words and music alternate and combine to weave a rich and coherent narrative. Langley's stage presence is relaxed but compelling and he uses gesture skilfully to enhance the verbal content of his tale. Indeed, for me, the real and the imagined began to inhabit the stage of the mac together, as the array of BEAST loudspeakers became overlaid with the conjured images of the cliffs and bays of the sea coast, the waves, the boat and the lines of the fisherman, the horror and the tenderness... -- but to say more would spoil the story!

In the premiere there was some slight unevenness, where it could be felt that the fixed medium of tape was putting unaccustomed timing constraints on the storytelling. This was not a major problem, though, and will, I am sure, be resolved in future performances -- considering the newness of the collaboration, such a small niggle seems almost churlish anyway. I hope that Langley and Batchelor with continue their partnership and that other electroacoustic composers will explore this medium.

- Review by Lisa Whistlecroft, May 1999



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