The National’s multimedia song cycle to debut in the UK next year

'The Long Count' will receive its UK premiere at The Barbican in February 2012

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The Long Count by The National‘s Aaron and Bryce Dessner, will be performed for the first time ever in the UK on February 2-4, 2012 at The Barbican Theatre in London.

A multimedia collaboration which sees them working with visual artist Matthew Ritchie, it was inspired by the Mayan creation myth, the Popol Vuh.

Described as “an abstract orchestral-rock song-cycle” about the beginning of time, as well as a 12 piece chamber orchestra, the Dessner twins will be joined for the performance by Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond and Kelley Deal of The Breeders. Matthew Ritchie’s animated film will play throughout the show.


The Long Count looks into the story of the ‘hero twins’ in the Popol Vuh and the Mesoamerican calendar, which is supposed to end on December 21, 2012 as well as the ‘rituals of baseball’.

It pays special attention to the World Series win of the Cincinnati Reds in 1976, which was the year the Dessner twins – who are from Cincinnati – were born.

The piece was commissioned in 2009 by the Brooklyn Academy of Music for its Next Wave art festival.


Of its London debut, Aaron Dessner said: “We are incredibly excited to bring The Long Count to the Barbican Centre. This piece has been an extraordinary opportunity for Bryce and I to push the boundaries of our songwriting and composition and explore the intersection of film, architecture and song with Shara Worden, Kelley Deal and Matthew Ritchie.

“The collaborative elements of the piece continue to evolve and we look forward to the next iteration in London.”

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