Ivan Hewett introduces the last two of the 20x12 series of commissions for the Cultural Olympiad, from Sheema Mukherjee and Richard Causton. The first - Bending the Dark - brings together Eastern and Western instruments in a celebration of heroic aspiration and the second, for the substantial forces of the European Youth Orchestra, hymns the work of William Blake, whose epic poem 'Twenty seven Heavens' graphs the trials and tribulations of the soul as it aspires heavenwards. It also celebrates the unsung quarters of East London, now placed centrestage as Olympic aspirations and ideals are put to the test. Plus, in the Hear and Now Fifty, Gavin Bryars' mould-breaking 1971 score 'Jesus Blood Never Failed me Yet' - a work which came about almost accidentally, when Bryars alighted on a recording of an elderly homeless man singing a few lines of a Victorian hymn. Robert Hewison puts the case for why the work is important and David Toop puts it in its cutlural and historical context.
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