Setting Brunel To Music



Isambard Kingdom Brunel was the engineering genius of the Victorian age; and now work has begun on an industrial opera based on the life and work of a man who shaped the Britain we know today. Fiona Talkington follows the progress of composers Matthew King and Nye Parry as they tackle the daunting task of depicting this huge personality. They meet experts Adrian Vaughan and Adam Hart-davis, who describe Brunel's personality, and visit great landmarks as they seek inspiration for their work. 'Traditional' and 'electro-acoustic' composing techniques merge to create a soundscape owing as much to chisels and Victorian beam engines as to violins and voices. Some of Brunel's stunning achievements, like the Rotherhithe Tunnel, the Tamar Bridge, and the SS Great Eastern, are portrayed, and the character of the great man himself emerges through arias based on his diaries and letters.