Martin Kiszko was one of a number of
Brunel 200 Bristol artists who chose to represent and interpret
Brunel musically. He worked with the Emerald Ensemble, the Exultate
Singers, and conductor David Ogden to compose and produce a remarkable
musical and filmic journey celebrating the construction of Brunel’s
Great Western Railway and the pioneering spirit of railway travel in
of a contemporary cantata, accompanied by a back-projected film of
a speeded up rail journey from London to Bristol from the driver’s
point of view, featured an orchestra, soloist and singers to recount
the building of the track. The film was created from
archive footage from Scott Tibbles, as well as footage from Robin Toyne
and further work from Jamie Child, with editing facilities provided by
Rick Holbrook and David McCormick.
The cantata was presented in eight
sections, and divided into two stories, the first telling of Brunel’s personal battle to build the railway,
the second parallel story, inspired by John C. Bourne’s book ‘Bourne’s
Great Western Railway’, is the journey from Paddington to Bristol
The ‘Radius of Curves’ is an essential measurement deemed
important by engineers and especially by Brunel. Determining
curves of a larger radius for the GWR resulted in smoother bends in the
track, which enabled locomotives to travel at speed. The term also served
as for a metaphor for the twists and turns that occurred both professionally
and personally in Brunel’s life.
The soloist and singers’ words included detail from the GWR’s
budget and discussions about the gauge through to comment from the shareholders’ meetings
alongside entries from Brunel’s diaries about his illnesses and
The world premiere of the work was performed in Clifton
Cathedral in March 2006 and attracted an audience of over 400 people,
as well as being recorded and broadcast by Bristol Community Radio Station,
B200fm. The event also featured the paintings of celebrated railway artist
Martin is an award-winning librettist and composer of over
200 film and television scores, and received the Academy of Composers'
2004 Composer of the Year Award.
Comments after the performance included:
“Congratulations on creating such a wonderful
piece and delivering such a great concert – I thoroughly enjoyed
the whole experience.”
“The passing of time has not diminished
the sheer enjoyment I had in experiencing the world premier of the Radius
of Curves. It
was without doubt one of the most exhilarating performances I have ever
heard and I consider it a privilege to have been part of such a momentous
occasion. You deserve, and will no doubt receive, every accolade possible!”
"I just wanted to tell you what a fantastic
performance a Radius of Curves was.
It was most impressive. I was captivated by the whole piece."
Bernard Walton, Film Producer
can hear a 2 minute clip of the final section 'Bristol' here (MP3).
It was recorded
at the world premiere at Clifton Cathedral in Bristol on 31 March 2006.
Photography: Mark Simmons.