Silver Birch is a beautiful original story about courage and aspiration, centering on themes and issues of relationships and family ties which are tested when two boys go off to fight in a present-day war, while drawing upon Siegfried Sassoon’s poetry for echoes of the past. Sassoon was a regular visitor to Garsington Manor in Oxfordshire during the First World War.

BBC Arts Digital followed the process of making Silver Birch and have produced three documentary films, looking at different aspects of the project. In addition, Person 181 – an immersive 360-degree film – gives audiences the experience of being on stage standing among the cast of 180 performers during a performance of Silver Birch, as well as unique behind the scenes access in the build-up to the actual performance.

“It’s the terrific panache of Karen Gillingham’s staging that really socks you between the eyes and ears.” Screen Shot 2018-02-13 at 18.46.14

Richard Morrison, The Times, 31 July 2017

“…this was a real achievement.”Screen Shot 2018-02-13 at 18.46.14

Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 1 August 2017

“A remarkable event with a vast community cast. There is a real sense of vision in this coming together, as clear in the unstoppable energy of the performers as it is in the excellence of the stagecraft displayed in Karen Gillingham’s complex production.”Screen Shot 2018-02-13 at 18.46.14

George Hall, The Stage, 31 July 2017

“A work that is having an impact on performers and audiences alike, and which stands as one of the very best examples of this type of opera.”

Screen Shot 2018-02-13 at 18.46.14

Sam Smith, Music OMH, 31 July 2017

“A chorus of roof-raising passion and purpose…directed with commanding skill by Karen Gillingham.”

Screen Shot 2018-02-13 at 18.46.14

Helen Wallace, Arts Desk, 31 July 2017

Screen Shot 2018-02-13 at 09.24.54

Photo credits: Images courtesy of Garsington Opera

To get a 3D experience watch the person 181 video on youtube:

Conductor – Douglas Boyd

Director – Karen Gillingham

Designer – Rhiannon Newman Brown

Composer – Roxanna Panufnik

Librettist – Jessica Duchen

Movement Director – Natasha Khamjani

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