words by the audience…

Audience reactions after the premiere at LSO St Luke’s on the 20th of October 2018.

I was never so moved by a piece of music, just divine. Loved it. Being moved is an understatement. From start to finish I was captivated by the beautiful music, the singing the ensemble and indeed it was and when the choir gathered it was just divine. I cried, I smiled and felt really connected to the different movements in the music and the involvement of such a range of instruments and voices. Humanity is indeed in a good place! Thanks for a special evening.
— Sherry Rouhani
There can be no doubting the creative ambition of this multifaceted, hour-long Odyssey, which grabbed and held its large audience’s attention from first note to last. Hhumann X is immediately engaging, yet promises to reward repeated listening. It represents yet another triumph for its energetic and versatile creator.
— Prof. Francis Pott
That as a triumph. Deeply moving.
— Jane Clinton
Listening to Hhumann X live at the Barbican, LSO St Luke’s, was a transformative experience. The sound world the audience were invited to enter complimented perfectly the beautiful ambience offered by clean stone walls and uplifting lighting of the venue. I’m attracted to composers who blend acoustic instruments with electronics but seldom have I heard this done with such exquisite subtlety. The musical language drew on a number of influences, ranging from western classical and Arabic to contemporary popular music and club culture. The melding of these influences offered a very unique and moving musical journey. The performance by all the musicians, both instrumental and technical, were faultless and wonderfully sensitive. The themes of compassion and humanity shone through with strength and conviction, leaving the audience inspired and nourished by the whole experience.
— Dr Tim Sayer
I found being at the World Premiere of Hhumann X an intensely moving experience. The music evoked perfectly the desperation of loneliness and the human yearning for connectedness. Tears came to my eyes when the choir sang, perfectly demonstrating the redemptive power of belonging through music. Hhumann X is a potent tribute to the memory of my dear friend, Jo Cox.
— Seema Kennedy MP
Huge congratulations on this beautiful musical ‘tour de force’. It was yet another triumph of the imagination which drew us all out of our various proverbial ‘boxes’ and took us on a journey into a different ‘soul-sphere’. A beautiful gift - thank you!
— Diana Blakeney
Congratulations on such a fabulous concert, I admire your courage as you are one of the few artists that dare to expose what is hidden. Most artists do what sells and they never really nourish their souls. I find your music is a calling into the void and unknown, where few dare to tread. It is the Union of all things touched and untouched, seen and unseen, heard and unheard. Where we recognize ourselves in all our glory. It’s magical and genius and I salute you.
— Lady Marina Cowdray
I just wanted to say how wonderful your concert was, beautiful beautiful music, a triumph. All the friends that went absolutely loved the recital and have been raving about your music.
— Jose Fonseca
An hour long, and an hour too short. I, like the audience, was left wanting it not to end. Hhumann X extends traditional boundaries balancing beautiful female voices over and above exquisite violin, cello, and piano whilst supporting with such a strong sense of rhythm and beat. I had to fight the urge to dance in my seat.
— Jamie Lonsdale
It’s hard to say logically or analytically what it was about the concert, but something touched me deeply. The lighting, the choreography, the singing, the instruments, yes, but it was more the sum of those parts which transported me through an experience which has still not left me, days later. I would say it connected me to what’s really important in life. It connected me to my soul. And to the collective soul of humanity.
— Lady Louisa Compton
Without ego, Toni subtly brings to light the challenges we are facing as our world navigates through this complex, new economy. The music pulls you into a feeling of isolation almost immediately with a faint light of connectedness that grows in strength and emotion throughout the performance…It would be easy, today, to become distraught or numb by the endless images of increased isolation, fear, anger, and uncertainty; but then, you get to experience an evening like this. Toni’s production of Hhumann X gently embraces you and invites you into the purpose and pulls on your heart before you know it. It takes you on a journey through the isolation, the fear, and the anger into one of unexpected, but oh-so-powerful, community. You see, feel, and discover new ways we can be, we can love, we can build together. The performance was beautiful, uplifting, fascinating and intriguing! It will stay with me a very long time, in the very best way - with mind & heart engaged.
— Angelique Mohring
A brilliant and extremely moving and inspiring new work, for which I congratulate and thank you!
— Peter Adler
Congratulations dearest Toni. You are absolutely amazing and a true inspiration! Stunning performance and beautifully performed.
— Florinna David
Heart opening.
— Tamasea Lambis
Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your concert, it was transcending. The women’s’ voices, the orchestra, percussion and all aspects of your composition was completely uplifting. I sailed off into the night transported. Thank you.
— Tina Mackenzie
A truly extraordinary and exceptional oeuvre and performance. A complex masterpiece sophisticatedly combining a broad spectrum of genres into a truly unique and mesmerising experience that leaves you feeling ecstatic.
— Robin Sturken
Spine-tingling. I was moved throughout the concert and a sense of reflection was felt amongst the audience. I was blown away.
— Sophie Cahn
Hhumann X was a dreamy repertoire driven by a heartbeat that transported me to an incredibly happy place. I dreamt of myself flying my paraglider over the Highlands of Scotland as I listened to Toni’s exquisite composition. When I arrived at the concert hall I thought to myself “it’s strange how many people wear black these days”. It transpired, of course, that half of those be sitting around me wearing black were the local choir who were equally involved in the presentation for me and the stunned and amused audience. Their inclusion within the overall work really heightened the pleasures that one had, indeed it made one feel involved. Toni excelled once again to delight my aural and visual receptors. It was awesomeness.
— Quentin Holland
We really enjoyed Hhumann X, how talented you are indeed to compose something like this! The combination of opera, classical instruments and electronic sounds is totally unique. Great unforgettable and very enjoyable experience.
— Inga Pivena
Hhumann X lifted us to another dimension! Congratulations Toni!
— James Nichols
Thank you Toni for your concert!! I really found it emotional and fantastic!! Congratulations!!
— Andrea Alinovi
The soaring visionary euphoria of The Fifth Element with discordant reminders of a (very) possible dystopian future à la 28 Days later. Hhumann X was a journey into the futuristic heart of light and darkness.
— Patrick Drake
From the beat of the heart to the voices of the angels through the simplicity of wood on wood and the technicality of computers and electronic beats. Toni has created what can only be described as a journey of darkness shown the light. A magical experience that left me smiling! Congratulations!
— Lee Atkins
As a former collaborator, I know the depths of commitment, passion and detail Toni puts into his composition. It was so nice to be witness to that in all it’s transcendent, mesmeric glory during the live HhumannX performance. Full of pride and admiration.
— Robert Shaw Cameron
What a spectacular event! I particularly enjoyed the improvisatory elements between piano and guitar, and the mixture of textures in sound. It was really moving to see the whole choir join at the end - no wonder there was a standing ovation!
— Clare Menor
Hhumann X was truly an experience...immediately we were taken into a different world, from the atmospheric orchestration of string instruments, electric guitar and electro beats and synths to the siren-like sopranos and the incredibly moving and uplifting choral finale. Castells strikes just the right chords!
— Robert Barbaro
Toni Castells has written such a beautiful and deeply moving piece of music. The concert was utterly wonderful, I feel privileged to have been there. Thank you Toni for a magical evening.
— Effie Hicks
The music was amazing, I really enjoyed listening to it. Toni Castells is extremely talented to have written all this incredible music.
— Katerina Hicks, 12
Thank you for an incredible evening. Listening to your piece there were so many associations I can’t all describe but I most liked the moment of silence after the last note at the end, when everyone just internalised the imprint of what just happened. It brings out the beauty of all the individual instruments and voices and still is one piece, it’s also effortless in bringing in classical instruments and electronic music and sounds, it’s really rare that this happens so that it sounds like it always was intended this way. And it was not just about the music or the sound but the idea of giving it a purpose beyond the musical qualities by adding the choir in the second half. I think this really pushes up any ceiling that ‘ordinary’ concerts have because it really makes it more than just a concert.
— Erik Holzinger
Hhumann X was a highly enjoying experience that glued us to the magic of musical interconnection between cultures! My friend and I will remember the event for times to come.
— Shahram Javid
It was very interesting to see how you mixed the registered music and the life musicians! A lot of technology but it worked. Wonderful voices and a great piano player ! Well done you!
— Uta Brouet
A warming bath of light. Beautiful and uplifting.
— Isabel Baron
I absolutely loved your concert, such a beautiful evening filled with such powerful emotions. What a privilege to be able to see it performed live.
— Sara Evans-Lacko
We all really enjoyed the concert!! I found it quite different from other works that you’ve done...more intimate and nostalgic.
— Cristina di Bernardo
I loved it!
— Maria Chiara di Bernardo
I don’t know what it was, I can’t describe that feeling, it was as if the music was bringing me closer to God.
— Johan Asadizadeh
Beautiful and moving music, combined with brilliant artistic performance. I thoroughly enjoyed it. A special moment in the performance was when the More Than Just A Choir group rose from among the audience and entered the stage. It underlined the humanity in the composition.
— Behrang Noohi
Where do I even start, I was so deeply impressed by it. The music was intense and emotional and not very easy to sit through all the time, despite its moments of sheer ecstatic beauty. I found the synergy between all of you on stage very interesting to observe. There is something about having laptops and cellos share a stage, about most performers being seated, and with headphones on. There was a clear sense of focus from everyone’s part, of dedication, of individually contributing to a common musical mission (rather than seemingly blending into a uniform musical whole). Also the sense of everyone coming from such different musical (and personal) worlds, different ages and musical educations.The choir moment when they stood up from the audience was breathtaking! And the music itself had groove and coolness, I found myself “dancing” in my seat many times, then holding my breath, and being overwhelmed... It worked. It struck a personal chord. I don’t know how and why, but it worked.
— Sabina Andron
Such an incredible concert...feels delicious to be flooded with all that sonic beauty, hugest hugest congratulations.
— Georgie Gerrish
Hi Toni, thank you for such a wonderful concert! You are so talented in transforming emotions into music. It was a lovely evening.
— Fi Prentice
I loved it, it was beautiful. I had tears at one point…
— Aniko Michnya
What can I say, truly, Hhumann X affected me and moved me deeply. It was so so beautiful...tears rose and spilled. Thank you.
— Annabel Gerbi
Toni Castells’ Hhumann X at LSO St Lukes was a mesmerising, immersive performance of a new experimental musical piece. It combined different musical genres, classical musical instruments, technology, voices and different cultural influences to convey a powerful message about the issue of social isolation and technology. From the start when the hypnotic drumming of a musical heart beat drew the audience in, we were taken on a musical journey, allowing us to connect with the performers and consider our own personal situation. Despite such a diversity of musical instruments and performers, the whole composition came together to produce a very unified work. It was not only a thoroughly enjoyable evening in a wonderful building, as a performance it also gave me much food for thought. I felt very privileged to have been at the premiere of such an important musical work.
— Jessie Atack
Thank you, it was such a wonderful performance. I feel very moved by your music, it was so special to see everything flowing live last night.
— Milla Eastwood
Congratulations on the show, it was beautiful! You have such a distinctive style, always so moving! Such a treat to see it live, wonderful performance!
— Roberta Howett
That was awesome! Thanks and huge congratulations!
— Georgia Ginsberg
Hhumann X is an intriguing dive into a contemporary concern, and a timeless question: how do we connect to each other how do we create relationships? Hypnotic and ethereal we felt relaxed, touched and nostalgic.
— Helene Hansen
I loved it!!! The music is so beautiful and thought-provoking! It’s really special.
— Charlie Evans
I don’t know where to start... I’m so in awe of your talent! Huge HUGE congratulations on last night! We were blown away!! It was pure magic! The soprano’s voices were extraordinarily beautiful and not as if they were being challenged at all. It made my heart sore! And I didn’t feel the loneliness was sad - I felt it was strong and powerful - as if it was a decision to be that way. And then a journey to come together and to connect. And when it finally did it felt harmonious and majestic! And I was just bursting with pride and excitement for you on this incredible performance!!! I can only imagine the hours and hours of work and preparation that will have gone into last night. It was an honour and privilege to be there for the first public performance!
— Helen Park-Weir
Everything about it was so extremely beautiful! Beyond captivating and well thought out.
— Jess Segal
Amazing premier of Hhumann X last night by super talented Toni Castells and Co. Congrats to all!! Well deserved standing ovations!
— Mirela Van Eijndhoven
I have been a fan of Toni Castells’ glorious music for many years and was very happy and excited to have been invited to the world premiere of his latest piece Hhumann X. It exceeded all the expectations again. Hauntingly beautiful music, ethereal and otherworldly, interspersed with the moments of great power and innovative musical genius. Toni’s work moves the audiences deeply with the undercurrent message of personal and societal significance. His finely attuned awareness of the human condition, translated through his exceptional musical sensibility, transports the listener into the unknown and unexplored realms. Well deserved standing ovation at the end. Thank you Toni, may you continue to enrich and enthrall us for many years to come.
— Bianca Madison-Vuleta
Amazing! What a wonderful surprise of fresh and interesting music. Very thought provoking. I can’t wait to hear more of your music.
— Katherine Webb
The best hour of epic music I’ve ever heard.
— Thao Lee-Wo
I enjoyed it a lot, congratulations. I really thought it was great. I think you should push the boundaries more with the artists you use to perform your work, but you know Toni its a huge achievement to get any work performed at that level and i think you’re doing excellent things so really congratulations.
— Wendy Bevan
Hhumann X is an extraordinary, emotive,immersive musical that took me on a thought provoking journey. Melancholy and wistful yet the songs expressed hope and sunshine appeared to peak through the dark clouds. I was captivated!
— Laura Bridge
The music of Humann X was surreal and mesmerising, offering something quite unique and different to its audience. The soprano, in particular, had a beautiful voice which still haunts me until today.
— Melissa Ng
Still thinking of Hhumann X...Toni magnificently mixes strings, percussion, electronics, piano tunes and two fabulous soprano voices that make you shiver more than once...The first five minutes set you on the right mindset and you slowly get transported into the isolation theme that surrounds the whole show. It makes you reflect on our future as humans, our attitude vs technology and on how change relies on us. I got especially emotional when the choir takes the stage...you could sense the emotions of every single member and the energy they transmitted was thrilling. I loved how everything is linked together, theme, music and the sensitivity of every note, piano key (privileged sounds!), soprano voice, percussion and electronic beats…Toni invites you to think, reflect, feel. Feel so much that makes you want more! Congratulations!
— Sara Rodes
Marvelous. How lucky I feel to have witnessed such a beautiful concert. Having around people able to write something like this it’s a privilege.
— Begoña Álvarez
An absolutely stunning premiere performance of HHUMANN X at LSO St. Luke’s. Toni fuses his signature atmospheric composition with contemporary electronic instrumentation and as such creates an otherworldly aesthetic. Polyrhythms, samples and operatic vocal sung in a ‘made-up’ language keep the listener solidly engaged throughout the album, whilst the concept underpinning the album inspires serious food for thought and explores the recent research into the social media paradox regarding human loneliness and isolation that are increasingly present, even in such a globally interconnected society. An inspiring and well-crafted album and a beautiful, captivating and soul touching performance.
— Jo Lord
Congratulations once again. A great theme, very well and beautifully expressed!
— Peter Rudnick
One of the best performances I ever witnessed. Hhumann X is one thing to be remembered. Congrats to all!
— Ruben Vera
I just wanted to say how wonderful I thought the concert was on Saturday - it was truly moving and really quite emotional. Well done to you and everyone involved!
— Lisa Freeman
Some reflections on ‘HHumann X’ from a member of the audience on October 20th at LSO St Luke’s.

As I lie dozing and not yet ready to face the world the awareness of my heartbeat slowly grows and grows in a regular monotonous beat, dominating my mind and body. What am I other than a beating heart. Why am I here? Is it worth the struggle to make this daily attempt at living? In the distance, I hear musicians playing. Each of them has a part to play. Each of them knows his role. Each of them has a purpose. The group of players comes together to produce something inspiring and beautiful. My feeling is once more shattered by the voice of a soprano – a cry of despair, loneliness and vulnerability. The musicians continue as the world outside continues in perpetual motion and infinite variety. Do I stay or do I move? Do I remain a tangent to this moving circle of life? Hope appears in the expression of the second soprano ringing through my mind. The struggle between despair and hope. I shall choose Hope. I join the musicians and find other souls joining too. Each of us has made the effort to live life, to make things happen, to create something collectively beautiful.

Many congratulations to the Composer of this moving piece Toni Castells and to the Musicians, and to David Phelops and his Choir. A memorable, impressive evening.
— Barbara Reece
My sister found the “More Than Just a Choir” website whilst looking for suitable activities for our 79-year-old mother to engage in to improve her mental health and social life. Mum really enjoys singing, has a great knowledge of and interest in music, but was very resistant when we first suggested she try the choir back in January this year. Many months have passed since that first mention to her, but not without frequent and gentle reminders since. I have been keeping my eye on the choir via their facebook page and website, and when I saw the Hhumann X concert advertised, I knew we should come along as it would be a good opportunity for mum to see the choir in action from a safe distance, and hopefully encourage her to get involved.

We were mesmerised by the whole thing! The sublime sound of the musicians, the sopranos and, of course, the choir. It was a very powerful and moving piece that we all enjoyed. I had been looking for the choir on stage and figured there must have only been 10 volunteers - the people I could see seated at either side of the stage. So when they were invited to stand by the choir director, and a whole row of 30 other members stood from the audience and made their way to the stage, wow...what impact! All these people coming together to join in song. With the overall message of the piece being about the value of connection and community, it made me very emotional!

We enthusiastically showed our appreciation at the end by joining in the standing ovation. We were seated behind a gentleman who explained he had traveled there on the (sold out) night in hope of getting a ticket on the door. He’d come especially to see the choir he had been a member of 2 years ago, before moving away from the area. We got chatting to him, and he sang his praises about the choir, telling us how positively he felt about it and what it meant to him. Both the performance itself and the words from our fellow audience member were inspiration enough for my mum to finally agree that night to try the choir out, and we attended our first session the very next Tuesday. To our surprise and delight, this same gentleman appeared at the choir that Tuesday too, after a 2-year absence, such was his enthusiasm to connect with the choir again. We were welcomed by friendly faces all round and shared our experience of the Hhumann X evening with them, before joining in with some lovely singing. Mum said she’d be back... All in all, the night was a great success from both points of view, I’d say!
— Nina Holland
We live in an age when our hyper-connectedness has left us seemingly more remote than ever from each other.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram seem to offer us the constant possibility of “company”. Virtual companionship, however, is no substitute for real, face-to-face interaction. Spanish-born composer Toni Castells’s latest work, Hhumann X, reflects on this. We are not just human but Hhumann X. As the title suggests, we are “more than” just human - the X seemingly pointing to limitless possibilities.

The piece began with quotes sampled from the mystic poet, Rumi, which echoed around the venue: “do you know what you are?” The repetition of this mantra was hypnotic and at times unsettling. It is a question we rarely, if ever, ask ourselves. Castells is not naive to how much we rely on technology - the performance had its fair share of laptops as well as live performers. But with this performance, the human being was very much at the center of things. There were strings: two cellos and a violin; there was the Latin Grammy-nominated pianist José Menor and singers: the sopranos Vanessa Bowers and Honey Rouhani. Castells’s work has been described as Morricone meets Satie and there was certainly a dreamy, cinematic quality to this work. More than half-way through the performance what seemed to be members of the audience walked up to the stage and began to sing.

They were from More Than Just a Choir - a choir based in northwest London whose participants have been affected by mental health issues. It was neat staging - even in the middle of a room full of people, we can still be very much isolated and alone. I looked at the person next to me with a renewed realisation that loneliness is often walking invisibly among us. The two sopranos were at turns euphoric, and plaintive and drew us into the meditative incantatory quality of the piece. But there was an air of expectation. And then it became clear.
”You are the divine manuscript,” another sample of Rumi echoed. “This universe is not outside of you. Look inside yourself; everything that you want, you are already that.”

At the end of this deeply moving performance, I turned to my neighbour and spoke to him. It seemed like the most natural thing to do. Perhaps, the answer really is within us if we would only give ourselves a chance to find out.
— Jane Clinton