spiritual and musical journey
WILLIAM DOVE - CHRISTIAN
(April 23 2009)
Re:Creation is a spiritual and musical journey
like no other, a modern day libretto consisting of 150 verses taken from the
Bible by retired URC minister Derek Wensley and put to music by composer David
Perkins in the musical style of oratorios like Handel's "Messiah" and Hadyn's
"Creation". The idea? To make the Bible easily accessible in a musical form.
The final product manages to take the audience on a journey which really
captures the whole essence of man’s existence and his relationship with God from
the beginning of time, to the present and even into the future prophesied in
Re:Creation consists of five parts which perfectly cover all
the main themes in the Bible, starting with God’s creation in parts one and two,
moving on to the sinfulness of man in part three, Jesus as the saviour of man in
part four and the promise of the restored Kingdom as the finale in part
The libretto in this respect is a work of genius. The 150 verses
chosen to tell the story of God and man throughout eternity come from some
unexpected places of the Bible, from books like Jeremiah, Job and the Epistles
of St Paul; and they do the job very well, varying in styles from beautiful
poetry to theology.
However, by far the greatest achievement of this work
is the way the music brings the words on the page (the libretto is printed on
the progamme) to life. This is all the more impressive when one considers that
the composer comes from a non-Christian background. Despite this, one was left
with the impression that the composer really understood the meaning of the
verses as the music takes you to new levels of understanding.
One of the
best parts is near the beginning when the Chorus sings of creation:
Earth was formless and void and darkness was over the surface of the deep. The
Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said ‘let
there be light’. And there was light.” (Genesis 1:1-3)
accompaniment at the beginning gives a very dark and mournful feeling suggesting
the loneliness of God before He had created the universe and the race of man
with whom He would share his love.
The chorus then repeats the words
“let there be light”. At first it’s not obvious why, but as they continue, each
time getting more confident and louder, one gets the feeling of a struggle to
let this light appear. With every repetition it feels that light is getting
brighter before a final crescendo in which this bright light shines on the whole
creation of God. It is an impressive sequence.
Jeremy White, the solo
bass-baritone on loan from the Royal Opera House, gave a very good performance
as the Voice of God. His first appearance comes in part three and his first
lines are from the book of Jeremiah chiding mankind for turning away from Him
(Jeremiah 8:5-7 and Jeremiah 5:21-25). The verses may not, upon first reading,
seem like the most attractive but White does a very good job in capturing the
felling of the voice of God.
Hearing him sing: “Why then, My people, do
you turn away from Me without ever turning back? You cling to your idols and
refuse to turn to Me. I listen carefully, but you do not speak the truth. Not
one of you has been sorry for his wickedness." One does not feel the force of a
terrifying God but rather one feels that these are the words of a fair and
fatherly figure who wants to help his children who have made a mess of their
Overall this was a very good performance which gave a good account
of the ongoing story of the relationship between man and God. Musically there
are some real gems where the composition brings the verses of the Bible to life
in a way that gets you thinking.
Perkins and Wensley
tested the water with a performance of Re:Creation on Wednesday in central
London. They're hoping it sparked an interest in the production within the kind
of people who can help take it across the country. They're even hoping
Re:Creation can make it onto the line-up of next year's Pentecost Festival. Our
final thoughts: it's well worth a try.