Symphony to a Lost Generation

A holographic gesamtkunstwerk

Composed, written and directed by Adam Donen

Music performed by Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic Choir, New London Children’s Choir and Yana Ivanilova (soprano), conducted by Martynas Staskus

Ensemble cast of ballet dancers, butoh dancers and actors including Sergei Polunin, Natalia Osipova, Minako Seki, Kae Ishimoto, Ernesto Tomasini, Flavia Ghisalberti, Ezio Tangini, Shekhar Ravjiani.

World premiere at LSO St. Lukes, London, UK.

For more information, see the production website

from the programme’s foreword:

“How to accurately describe and depict the Great War is not just a quandary for our generation – it was a quandary in 1914 too, and 1916, and 1919. We are no less confused when we attempt to depict our present. What would 2016 look like to those who died a century ago?  Anyone writing about the past is necessarily writing about the present, just as anyone writing about the future is necessarily taking one particular present for granted. Symphony to a Lost Generation is a work about our present.

This is a work that in every way transcends nationality. It skips from individual characters to huge groups, and from country to country. That’s not how a war story usually goes. Sometimes it’s not even clear where the characters are from. The temptation to treat “one man’s struggle” (and yes, typically it has been a man, and typically a British or American one at that) as being the distilled depiction of “that time” is one I have worked hard to avoid.

It is an iconoclastic work. It assumes that just as one needs to protect the legacy of the Great War from falling into the hands of nationalists (in whatever country), so one needs to protect the space of Great Art from being something that happened “back then”, and which is now owned by august institutions and galleries or staged by plush opera houses in Great Cities. Great Art is not something that can only be understood with the right education, bank balance or postcode, any more than the Great War can only be understood with a degree from the right institution.

Symphony to a Lost Generation fuses symphony orchestra with ballet, butoh dance, acting, poetry, cabaret, painting and digital manipulation. It’s an arrogant work. It seeks to achieve what Wagner managed 150 years ago, to take the apotheosis of every great artform that history gave us, and the greatest technology of our present, and fuse them. This work aspires, unashamedly, to be a Great Work of Art in and for the present day.

Most of all, this is a work rooted in music. The other forms are used to enhance the music’s sense, feeling and purpose. You don’t need to “understand” music. It’s not about the story. Don’t worry about “understanding” Symphony to a Lost Generation: if you feel it, you’ve got what it’s here to give you.

– AD, 2016″