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Donen’s symphony charts the transition from pre-War tonality to post-War dissonance, returning to tonality in the work’s final (fifth) movement. The first movement is a traditional 19th century sonata, but by the fourth movement, hints of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and Chopin’s waltzes are drowned out in a landscape of horror. This is echoed by the dance, which begins with a balletic idyll before making use of butoh, a Japanese “dance of death-in-life”, to depict the lives of those caught in No Man’s Land.

‘With Symphony to a Lost Generation, I sought to show the living presence of the First World War in our time, and the extent to which the world it created continues to reverberate in our lives today. I sought to make use of every art-form and technology at our disposal – holograms in particular – to create a comprehensive picture of that awful time. I wanted to democratise epic art: to create a work on the scale of performances in the great capitals’ opera houses that would not remain trapped in such gilded cages, and could be taken to small towns and cities across the world.’ Adam Donen, composer and director

The production has harnessed the skills of two extraordinary creative talents: visual director Mikael Jaeger Jensen, whose credits include Effects Co-ordinator on Oscar-winning films including ‘Avatar’ and ‘Gravity’, and one of the world’s foremost music producers, Robert Harder. Aside from his Grammy-nominated work with David Byrne and Brian Eno, Harder has worked with both Kylie Minogue and Herbie Hancock.

South African-born Adam Donen is a composer, librettist, and director. Like Elgar and Schoenberg, Donen is a self taught composer. Recent major works include The Bernhard Suite (a 1 hour suite for string orchestra and piano premiered by the world renowned Württemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn) and Dorian (a libretto for Russian State Ballet). Donen has also released three albums of songs, performed across Europe, written and directed a sellout site-specific puppet opera and lectured at venues including Tate Britain and RADA.

Sat 28 May 2016 7.30pm - 9.00pm
Jerwood Hall, LSO St Luke's, London

The world’s first fully holographic production, a moving depiction of the human tragedy of the First World War. 250 actors and dancers appear beside the Vienna Philharmonic Choir and Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra in Adam Donen’s epic symphony and drama.
Its scale and imagination is like nothing you’ve experienced.

Holograms have been used to bring Michael Jackson back to life and allowed Kate Moss to spend a month as part of the Alexander McQueen exhibition: never have they formed the basis of a full stage production until now. Transnational World War 1 epic Symphony to a Lost Generation is the world’s first fully holographic stage production: a visual and aural spectacular with a new symphony by virtuoso young composer Adam Donen at its centre.

Fusing classical music, dance, drama and archival film, Symphony to a Lost Generation is a 3D audio-visual holographic spectacular. It is an emotional and comprehensive artistic treatment of the First World War that presents both the monumental (Gallipoli, the Somme) and deeply personal, treating the entire conflict as the stories of individuals: their passions, their hopes and their struggles.

Holograms are used not only to give the illusion of live stage performance, but to allow modes of story-telling never before possible in theatres - a truly original hybrid art form, different from 3D cinema on the one hand and from live performance on the other. This is the first time the technology has ever been used on this scale. This production is the brainchild of 30 year-old Adam Donen who, three years ago, set about creating a new form of ‘total art’ unifying technologies and classical art-forms – music, dance, drama and film - that could travel to audiences outside of major capital cities. Symphony to a Lost Generation, with his new symphony at its core, is the result.

The 400-strong cast list for Symphony to a Lost Generation reads like a roll call of some of the greatest talents performing in the world today: the Vienna Philharmonic Choir, Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra, the Grammy-winning New London Children’s Choir, Russian soprano Yana Ivanilova (widely considered Russia’s greatest living chamber soprano), prizewinning conductor Martynas Staškus, Ernesto Tomasini (recently made Eccellenza Italiana for his services to the performing arts in Italy) and legendary butoh choreographer Minako Seki.

All 400 performers will appear as holograms, which will allow the production to tour the UK regions as well as smaller towns and cities across the world. It will be the largest-scale production ever to appear in most of the cities in which it is performed.


Its scale and imagination is like nothing you’ve experienced, depicting a time long past in a form uniquely contemporary.