The Sinking of the Titanic
Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012 9:00PM
Vancouver Aquatic Centre
Aventa Ensemble 


On December 4, the deck of the enormous indoor pool was transformed into a stage for Victoria’s Aventa Ensemble, who performed British composer Gavin Bryars’ 1969 masterpiece, The Sinking of the Titanic.  2012 marks one hundred years since the “unsinkable” British passenger liner collided with an iceberg on its maiden voyage, resulting in the deaths of more than 1500 of its 2223 passengers. In the intervening century, countless artists have sought to explore the many facets of the historic maritime disaster. Bryars’ drew his inspiration from reports that the Titanic’s eight-piece orchestra remained on the deck, playing their instruments, as the liner sank into the sea. The multimedia work weaves recordings of survivors describing the Titanic’s final moments with Bryars’ evocative, hymn-based composition.

In the summer of 2010, famed British composer Gavin Bryars joined Aventa in residence at The Banff Centre to create a new opera based on the last days of Marilyn Monroe, based on award-winning Canadian author Marilyn Bowering’s book “Anyone can see I love you”, which featured the other-worldly Faroese chanteuse, Eivør. The residence also featured this performance and recording of Bryars’ 20th-century masterwork “The Sinking of the Titanic.” with the composer joining the ensemble on double bass. Saturday, June 12, 2010 – 7:30 PM Margaret Greenham Theatre, Banff, Alberta Gavin Bryars, The Sinking of the Titanic Archival live performance with special guests: Gavin Bryars (double bass) Phil Dwyer (tenor sax) from Aventa: Mieka Michaux, Muge Buyukcelen (violas) Alasdair Money (cello) Darnell Linwood (horn, piano) Corey Rae, Bill Linwood (percussion) Kevin Lamotte, lighting designer / Tim O’Gorman, production manager Aventa Ensemble / Joel Ivany, Stage Director / Florian Krentz, Simon Gamache, Gonzolo Garcia, recording engineers. Special thanks to Sally Groves (Schott Music) and David Gleeson (The Banff Centre) The residency was a co-production of the Banff Centre and the British Columbia Arts Council.

Recorded at the Banff Centre, Aventa’s release of The Sinking of the Titanic welcomes the composer Gavin Bryars on double bass and Canadian jazz artist Phil Dwyer on tenor sax.

“Gavin Bryars’ The Sinking of the Titanic forces us to contemplate one of the most powerful images from that catastrophe: the band that kept playing as the ship sank. We don’t just consider the image and move on; we’re locked into it, into the harmonies of the old hymn, the groaning ship and the sound waves resonating under water into eternity. It’s initially cooler than the celebrated Crepuscule release from 1990; there’s less bass and we don’t hear the bows scrape against the strings, although the reminiscences of the two survivors are more prominent. Aventa also replaces the original bass clarinet – its dark, straight tone gives an eerie depth to the ambient sound – with a saxophone, but it pays off. The sax sounds almost human in the final lament.” Elissa Poole, Globe and Mail