Opera North – Walking Home: Sound Journeys from Lockdown

15 Aug 2020 - 31 Oct 2020

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Music

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About the event

Our series of five sound journeys, composed and recorded by musicians during lockdown for BBC Arts and Arts Council England’s Culture in Quarantine programme, are now available for download here.

Created specifically to be listened to on headphones whilst walking, each piece has been made with a particular place or time in mind, offering the listener a unique chance to renew their imaginative connections with their environment, as we continue to adjust to a new context for our outdoor activity and exercise.

Abel Selaocoe: Ulibambe

The South African cellist and composer’s lockdown base in the Peak District inspired this work, which is intended to accompany a walk at the day’s end. “The title comes from a Zulu saying meaning ‘Hold the sun, so it may not set’”, he explains.

“In this piece of music the phrase takes on a new meaning and becomes a way to soothe your worries towards the end of the day: we often over-fill our day and feel overwhelmed, but instead we can live and work by embracing our instincts and knowing when we have done enough, or when there is a need for change.”

Maya Youssef: Silver Lining

Born and raised in Damascus, Maya is a virtuoso of the qanun, the Arabic zither. “When I was approached to take part in Walking Home,” she says, “the first thing that came to my mind was walking in nature, and the different lines of thought and feelings that stream through me.

Because of that, there are different voices in this piece, all of which the qanun performs. I know a lot of people are going through a lot of grief at the moment, and I wanted this music to give them a whisper of hope”.

Khyam Allami: Al-Mayasan

Locked down in Berlin, the Syrian-born Iraqi oud player and composer takes a cinematic approach to the unsettling atmosphere of urban spaces in the Covid-era: “I’ve spent the entirety of the lockdown alone, and I’ve learned that we tend to forget how much our day to day interactions with people allow us to have a different perspective on what we do and how we think”, he says.

“I would like to encourage listeners to consider who you can see around you, and the environment that you’re experiencing, through the perspective of one of the other people that you have seen or encountered, on this short journey with me.”

Martin Green: A Place of Crisps and Pianos

The accordionist, composer, and one-third of exploratory folk band Lau has brought together field recordings, spoken word and the trumpet and tenor horn of Laura Jurd: “I’d been getting up earlier and earlier and enjoying that special period when it feels like there are very few people awake”, he says.

“I recorded a few walks at sunrise, one with my daughter, and the snippets of conversation that got caught became the starting point. I’d been yearning for ensemble music and I’d been very keen to find a project to do with Laura for a while – and the sound of the sun makes me think of brass”.

Alice Zawadzki: My Boy of the Birds

The London-based vocalist, violinist and pianist’s piece is written for “that very special time of day that’s neither nighttime or daytime: that strange liminal, luminous place where the birds are singing and we’re on the precipice of something new”, she says. “The piece reflects all of the changes that we navigate with people close to us.

There’s a tension between two keys, but there’s also a gentle pulsing all the way through which doesn’t change, and I suppose that’s the thing that you hold on to, a kind of rudder in these weird seas! I really hope that anybody listening to it will find beauty and consolation in it.”

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