The Diamond Light Source might seem an odd venue for a concert, but for Music from the Genome — which closed OCM’s season — it was appropriate, because scientific research lay at the heart of this fascinating programme.

Of greatest interest was the 40-part choral work Allele, composed by Michael Zev Gordon to words by Ruth Padel, and here given its premiere. The piece is based on investigation by consultant anaesthetist Dr Andrew Morley, who for the past few months has been testing the genes of 250 musicians and 250 non-musicians to see if there is one that determines musical ability. Full results have yet to be announced, but meanwhile Zev Gordon has used the testing of members of the New London Chamber Choir as a basis for a 20-minute choral work. The result is a powerful, multi-textured piece that gradually unfolds and builds to a climax as the performers all perform their own genetic variants — or alleles — in a musical reflection of Morley’s research. At times energetic, at times reflective, it presents its singers with enormous challenges, but with the encouragement of conductor James Weeks the New London Chamber Choir rose to those challenges magnificently, responding to the melodic and rhythmic demands with confidence and a warm, vibrant tone. I assumed the singers were professionals, and was astonished to discover later that this is an amateur choir.

Allele was teamed with five other pieces linked by the theme of light, including Tallis’s Spem in Alium, from which Zev Gordon drew some of his inspiration for Allele, and Gabriel Jackson’s Sanctum est verum lumen, which was based even more closely on the Tallis. There were also pieces by Taverner, Ligeti and Sheppard. Afterwards, brief talks by Morley, Padel, Zev Gordon and Weeks gave further insight into this intriguing work.