Video: The Sinking of the Titanic in a swimming pool

The Canadian composer Jordan Nobles has made us aware of a performance by the Aventa Ensemble last December of Gavin Bryars’ The Sinking of the Titanic held in the Vancouver Aquatic Centre. Have a look at it here: . Although it is hard to hear the music as clearly as one would like, I think this adds to the nostalgic and watery quality of the performance. One hears, almost, the testimony of survivors; the solos are more indistinct than they would be in a concert hall. All is so much more . . . watery.

The wind players are positioned on the high diving platforms; the strings and percussion at poolside. The lighting is gloomy, with some green spots and lights from doorways, and with more natural lights on the performers. The main camera setting is on the side of the pool opposite the performers, where there are stands where the majority of the audience was sitting. But — and this is what you’re waiting for if you’ve had a peek at this video — the real feature of this performance is the number of audience members bobbing around in the pool itself. This could have been so tacky in other circumstances: ‘Come to the Titanic Pool Party!!!’ But the members sit still — or as still as they can in water — some treading water, some holding floatation devices, one prone on a lilo as if life had left. There is something rather remarkable about these people, as if the lovers of water have gathered to commemorate and memorialize those lost to the water.

I was afraid that this would have been the one time that a Titanic performance ‘jumped the shark’, but it’s really a good addition to the history of the piece.

Author: Virginia

Virginia Anderson is a writer who messes with the EMC Blog. She specialises in the study of experimental, minimalist, and free improvisatory music. She also plays clarinet, and has recorded on Zanja, Advance, and Rastascan Recordings, specialising in new works for Eb clarinet and free improvisation.