A 12-hour performance of composer Gavin Bryars’s Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet – which the Guardian calls ‘one of the 20th century’s great musical works’. This piece for pre-recorded tape and ensemble is based on a 1971 recording of an unknown homeless man singing a religious song.
People with experience of homelessness will be singing and performing alongside Bryars and his ensemble, professional musicians from the renowned chamber orchestra the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, as well as members of the Southbank Sinfonia.
It is 48 years since I first heard the fragment of religious song that is the basis of my piece and I still hear new things and continue to be touched by its beautifully musical qualities as well as the dignity, faith and humanity of the homeless old man who sang it.
In the lead up to the performance, the Academy has been working with more than sixty people with experience of homelessness on a series of singing and music-making workshops.
The concert is also being supported by With One Voice, the international arts and homelessness movement founded by Streetwise Opera which aims to connect and strengthen arts and homelessness projects worldwide. WOV is working with cultural spaces to deepen access for people who are and have been homeless.
Produced by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in partnership with Gavin Bryars, Streetwise Opera, Tate Modern, With One Voice, The Museum of Homelessness, Southbank Sinfonia, The West London Mission and The Connection at St Martin’s.
This Programme is supported by Arts Council England, The Big Give, Jerusalem Trust, Patrick & Helena Frost Foundation, Sir Neville Marriner Fund and Albert Hunt Trust.