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Silver Swan

Photos: Tim Nunn, Manuel Vason & Hugo Glendinning

"Audacious imagery and soaring voices fill the Tate’s great hall... The acoustics are cathedral-like; as these unaccompanied voices penetrate every part of the space, they acquire an awesome, disembodied power."The Guardian

Silver Swan is a piece of music for seven unaccompanied female singers, written by Paul Clark. Taking two simple 17th Century songs by John Smith and William Lawes, the piece weaves their melodies into a dense and beautifully haunting texture.

"The music by Paul Clark is achingly divine. Thrilling textures soar high and sweet, or brush against momentary discords."The Herald

Silver Swan has been presented both as a 'choreographed concert' and as a theatre piece featuring additional actors. The piece has been performed in a variety of venues, most recently in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in November and December 2012.

"A creation that stands out from the crowd"Three Weeks

Silver Swan Inspiration

Different in each incarnation of performance, theatrically Silver Swan is re-directed to respond to the environment it is performed in. In the magnificent Raphael Room at the V & A Museum, for example, the piece was a poetic take on the music where the singers, dressed in immaculate white dresses, struggle to form a chorus, and sometimes struggle even to keep their balance. In the enormous McEwan Hall, Edinburgh, three actors joined the company and played out a parallel drama amidst the dozens of doorways and balconies as the audience perched high above in the gallery.

"Oddly charming and beautifully sung"The Times

"A truly timeless experience"
The Stage

"Surely a contender for best use of space on the fringe"Three Weeks

Weeping Skeleton, From Vesalius, De humani corporis fabrica, 1543: Stephan Calcat

Silver Swan is performed by a distinguished company of singers who have worked with such prestigious companies as ENO and the London Sinfonietta.

The Silver Swan who living had no note
'till death approached unlocked her silent throat
Leaning her breast against the reedy shore
She sang her first and last and sang no more
Farewell all joys
Death come close my eyes
More geese than swans now live
More fools than wise




Directed by Suzy Willson
Music by Paul Clark
Conducted by James Keane


Since 1999 Silver Swan has been performed by


Jenny Bacon, Morag Boyle, Lyndsay Bramley, Deborah Davison, Karen Fodor, Rosemary Forbes Butler, Joanna Gamble, Adey Grummet, Tara Harrison, Ruth Jame , Polly May, Clare McCaldin, Natalie Raybould, Emily Sharp, Lucy Stevens, Elaine Tate, Helen Withers.


Sarah Belcher, Robert Bell, Zoe Bywater, Sarah Cameron, James Flynn, Antonia Grove, Satchi Kimaura, Dan Milne, Ramona Nagabczynska, Sabina Netherclift, Uri Roodner, Alessandra Ruggeri, Linda Kerr Scott, Jason Thorpe, Mel Wilson.

Silver Swan on Tour

First performed at BAC  in 1999. Since then it has been performed at The Raphael Room at the Victoria and Albert Museum as part of British Architecture Week,The Linbury Studio at the Royal Opera House as part of the Festival of Firsts, The McEwan Hall at Edinburgh Fringe Festival and and Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.

Supported by

Silver Swan was originally commissioned by BAC and supported by ENO Studio and the National Theatre Studio. Since then it has been supported by Garrick Charitable Trust, The Leche Trust, PRSF, RVW trust and the Hinrichson Foundation.