Author: Nathan Akrill

Coastal Voices Performance at Beer Quarry Caves

June 1st was a first in many ways.  A group of people from across Devon, including children from Seaton Primary school and B Sharp, arrived at Beer Quarry Caves to perform the world premiere of Sturzstrom, a Landscape Event for Voice composed by Marc Yeats.  The piece is one of four commissions for the Coastal Voices project which spans the length of the World Heritage Site.  They are all very different: Sturzstrom is modern, contemporary and focuses on texture and dynamics rather than melody.

Coastal Voices Performance at Beer Quarry Caves

Coastal Voices Performance at Beer Quarry Caves


The event went very smoothly, thanks in part to the help received from the Fine Foundation Centre in Beer and their wonderful stewards, and of course to John Scott and his team at the caves.  The audience was shown in and followed the tea lights into the caves to the performance area, where the singers and ‘pebble chorus’ were waiting to perform the piece for the first time.

The performance started with a pebble samba from the children, led by Devon Music Service’s Elfyn Jones.  Marc Yeats then briefly introduced the piece and the performance began with the pebble chorus.

The performance featured in the Guardian guide last weekend

Some audience comments:
“Best thing since sliced bread”

“Fantastic.  Inspirational overlay of music and sound.  Good match of music and environment.  Pebbles and voices represented well the geology.”

“Unusual, perfect setting.  An experience.”

“Fantastic music – good for people to go to effort to do this.  Credit.  Changes every time. Accessibility helps foster appreciation for new – niche – music, especially with children, helps accessibility.”

Performance at Lighthouse, Poole, July 8th

July 8th saw over 1000 singers including over 300 young people, come together to sing about the Jurassic Coast – the geology and geomorphology, social history and personal experiences of it.

This was the first time that all four commissions were performed and it was very moving to see the culmination of all the hard work put in by so many people over such a long period of time.  Each commission was very different – some catchy songs, some beautiful harmonies, some vocal interpretations of landslides.  It was especially poignant given the weather events of the last few days which had meant the buses for the Exeter and Lyme Regis groups had to battle through floods, herds of cows, diversions and torrential rain to get to Lighthouse Poole; and gave singing about the natural forces which shape our lives added significance.

If you’d like to see these commissions performed again, there will be a further performance of the Nick Cave/ Sonia Slany commission in London on July 21st as part of the BT River of Music, and further performances of all four commissions again (sadly omitting the very difficult but wonderful Jurassic Coast movement of John Surman’s commission) on Weymouth Live Site, Weymouth Beach on 27th July from 3pm onwards prior to the Olympic Games’ Opening Ceremony.

Coastal Voices is produced by Serious and Lighthouse Poole, with commissioning support from Jurassic Coast Arts Programme. It is supported by National Lottery funds through the Olympic Lottery Distributor, Arts Council England, with additional funding support from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, SoundStorm and Team Devon. The project is part of an ongoing participatory programme linked to BT River of Music which will welcome the world to London with a spectacular weekend of free music from the 205 Olympic and Paralympic nations. Coastal Voices is a partner project of Creative Coast 2012, animating the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site and has been granted the Inspire mark by the London 2012 Inspire programme.

Daisy Sutcliffe, Creative Coast 2012 Coordinator.

Photo: Maisie Hill

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