Last and First Men is Jóhann Jóhannsson’s poetic swansong. The Icelandic composer was working on the score of his magnum opus at the time of his death in February 2018, distilling and intensifying the symphonic sound world that he had premiered at Manchester International Festival (MIF) little more than six months earlier.
Oscar-winning Tilda Swinton narrates the piece as the doomed 18th species of mankind, reaching out to us, the first, to tell us the story of the extinction of humanity. Inspired by Olaf Stapledon’s eponymous science-fiction novel, Jóhannsson devised the multimedia work’s visual concept, travelled to the former Yugoslavia, with cinematographer Stuart Brandth Grovlen, to shoot footage of isolated locations and futuristic war memorials, then set about marrying the haunting images to music.
Following full symphony performances in Manchester, London’s Barbican Hall and Sydney Opera House, this live multimedia experience will be the first opportunity for audiences to experience the definitive score performed by a live orchestral ensemble combined with film, narration, lighting and live electronics and harmonium performed co-composer Yair Elazar Glotman and vocals by Theatre of Voices.
Premiered at MIF17: 6 Jul 2017
18 Feb 23
Festspielhaus Saint Pölten
25 Mar 23
6 Jul 2017
1 Dec 2018
2 Jun 2019
Vivid Live @ Sydney Opera House
A breath-taking requiem for the final human species in civilisation, majestically put together over seven years by a composer who is destined for sheer greatness.
Manchester Evening News
Director & Composer Jóhann Jóhannsson
Composer & Musical Director Yair Elazar Glotman
Orchestration and Arrangement Anthony Weeden
Cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grøvlen
Text from Last and First Men. Narration written by Jóhann Jóhannsson and José Enrique Macián from Olaf Stapledon’s novel.
Technical Director Rick Vincent Will
Lighting Designer Stuart Bailes
Peter Albrechtsen Sound Designer
Film Narrator Tilda Swinton
Soloists Else Torp, Kate Macoboy
Conductor Viktor Orri Árnason
Commissioned by Manchester International Festival, the Barbican Centre and Sydney Opera House for Vivid LIVE.
Orchestra depends on the city of the performance and include BBC Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Brussels Philharmonic and Tonkunstler Orchestra.
Film co-produced by Flanders Festival Kortrijk with the support of GoneWest, Province of West-Flanders.
The Estate of Jóhann Jóhannsson is managed by RedBird Music.