For the first time in the UK, Karlheinz Stockhausen’s extraordinary Mittwoch opera will be performed by a string quartet in four helicopters flying above Birmingham. The whole event will be streamed live from 19:00 (GMT) Today, Wednesday 22nd August, to a global audience on The Space, the new digital arts service developed by the Arts Council in partnership with the BBC and part of the Cultural Olympiad.
A string quartet will take to the air in four helicopters flying above Birmingham from 19.00 on Wednesday 22 August as part of an ambitious and daring musical production. The UK premiere of the Helicopter String Quartet, a spectacular movement from Karlheinz Stockhausen’s extraordinary Mittwoch opera, will be streamed live to a global audience on the opening night exclusively on The Space, the new digital arts service developed by the Arts Council in partnership with the BBC.
The opera is being staged by the Birmingham Opera Company lead by international award winning opera director Graham Vick on what would have been the composer’s 84th birthday. It will be the first time that all six parts of this opera featuring two choirs, flying solo instrumentalists, live electronic and acoustic music and a string quartet streamed live from four flying helicopters will be staged together.
All performances have sold out but The Space has commissioned the live streaming of the Helicopter String Quartet to bring the wonder of this once in a lifetime production to the whole of the UK. In what promises to be a stunning spectacle viewers will be able to see musicians in each cockpit as they perform the score, which is in part a reaction to the noise of the rotor blades and pilot’s movement.
The Space live stream begins with BBC Radio One DJ Nihal Arthanayake as Narrator introducing the movement to the audience and putting questions to performers submitted by the public through Birmingham Opera’s social media channels. In the run up to the performance The Space presents three archive films in which the composer talks about his life, his music and his beliefs. Also, local volunteers are creating their own take on Stockhausen’s music. Following the live streaming the sold out Helicopter String Quartet will also be available to view on The Space on demand.
Stockhausen is a revolutionary figure in 20th century music. His innovation moved composition into new territory embracing the new technology of electronic music and breaking the barriers between musical genres. He has influenced pop, rock and electronic music. Since launching in May this year The Space has become the online destination to enjoy an extraordinary summer of UK arts and culture.
Classical music fans can experience, on demand, this summer’s critically acclaimed Royal Opera House production of The Trojans in HD; a very special performance of Britten’s War Requiem recorded in Coventry Cathedral; a full performance of David Shrigley’s maverick ‘sort of opera’ Pass The Spoon, and explore Gustav Holst’s The Planets through video and interactive commentary.