Last Sunday evening saw the first major Three Cities Project event. It was held at Musa in Aberdeen and we gathered a crowd of around 50. The evening included performances of new compositions by Suk-Jun Kim, Pete Stollery, Trond Lossius and myself, as well as a performance of Marc Higgin’s imaginative work, Lift (see Pete’s post below to listen).
I think it’s safe to say that it was never going to be easy performing soundscape compositions in a venue that usually hosts pop, rock and folk music. However, I do believe that the audience engaged with what we had to offer and possibly even reconsidered how they perceive their aural environment. As an example, I got a terrific text message from my friend following the gig:
“After an evening at the farm, I think you have to come and do some recording…I’m hearing everything in a whole new way! Imagine 10 cows drinking out of a trough…I can only liken it to an elephant drinking out of a bath!”
I feel very grateful to have performed my work alongside Jun, Pete, Trond and Marc. Following Marc’s participation at the Three Cities Project workshop last November in Aberdeen, I’m happy to hear that he’s been delving into a bit more composition. You should check out his Soundcloud page: http://soundcloud.com/thatbeigething. Trond’s pieces reminded me of what Pete has described as the difference between “sonic inhabitants” and “sonic tourists”. Being a Bergen resident, Trond’s field recordings really highlighted that difference for me. His engagement with the Bergen soundscape captivated and moved me a great deal. Pete’s Crossing_Bergen is a composition which uses the same material as my Crossing piece. Pete was not with Jun and I when we visited Bergen just over a year ago. That “soundmark” of the tiny boat ferrying passengers across the Bergen water holds a distinct resonance for me. For Pete, I imagine it has been like responding to a postcard, from which you draw a very different perception than the tourist had. To hear those sounds recontextualised really gave me a thrill:
The gig concluded with Jun’s all-encompassing Three Returns. Jun’s piece comprises recordings of all three cities (one of which – St Petersburg – he hasn’t visited). As the only participant of the project to have been present in all three cities, it was perhaps Jun’s composition that I engaged the most with, and it seemed a fitting conclusion to the night.
As well as my Crossing piece, I performed a new work, Heritage. I did my best to convey to the audience what my compositional approach to the piece had been – but nerves (and red wine!) may have muddied my speech. In an earlier post, I described the profoundly emotional experience of walking through St Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum – a vast building that houses centuries worth of art and artefacts. During our visit there (which due to time restrictions lasted around an hour), I decided to make a recording of my walk through the endless rooms and hallways. Foucault coined the term “heterotopia” – that is, spaces of otherness or “a single real place that juxtaposes several spaces”. For me, the Hermitage is the ultimate heterotopia: a maze of corridors linking rooms with paintings, sculptures and artefacts from many past centuries, experienced daily by people from all across the world. Time freezes when you walk through those doors. The piece I composed, Heritage, is my response to that experience:
Finally, many thanks to the staff of Musa who helped to make this event the success that it was. We’re all very excited to see and hear what the next stage of the project brings….