New musical works especially made to be listened to while walking are being created by artists working with Opera North.
Building on the Leeds-based company’s history of award-winning and innovative sound walks and installations, the works encompass r folk, jazz, Middle Eastern and African traditions, classical and contemporary music – with a tendency to experiment and to break the confines of genre.
The contributors are cellist and composer Abel Selaocoe, qanun virtuoso Maya Youssef, oud player and composer Khyam Allami, vocalist, violinist and songwriter Alice Zawadski and accordionist and experimentalist Martin Green of the folk trio Lau.
The project, called Walking Home, consists of 15-minute pieces aiming to help people connect with their environment in a new way.
Jo Nockels of Opera North said: “The spark came from the strange alchemy we found between walker, place and music that was powerfully evident in the past sound journey commissions we have made for the Humber Bridge and River Tyne.
“While these five new walking commissions are on a much more intimate scale, and meant for wherever you are, all five respond to the dynamic of walking, listening through headphones and taking in your surroundings to produce an experience as much created by the listener as by the artists. They might offer a soundtrack to a daily escape from lockdown, intensify the sensations experienced on their chosen route or conjure up something altogether harder to define.
“We are delighted to be working with five such brilliant and varied composer/musicians on this project, each of whom innovates way beyond the boundaries of genre. Together they will form a collection of music that is refreshing, unexpected and individual.”
Best known as one third of the visionary folk trio Lau, Martin Green’s reputation as a composer in his own right was cemented by an Ivor Award for his Opera North commission for the Great Exhibition of the North in 2018.
Syrian-born Iraqi oud player Khyam Allami’s haunting installation Requiem for the 21st Century was an Opera North commission for the 2019 PRS New Music Biennale.
Born in South Africa and now based in Manchester, cellist and composer Abel Selaocoe’s sound journey will acknowledge the beneficial effects that he has felt from walking over the past weeks.
Born and raised in Damascus, Maya Youssef is a virtuoso of the qanun, the distinctive Arabic form of the zither with a history dating back to the nineteenth century BC.
And with a background that takes in classical violin, gospel, jazz and folk, Alice Zawadzki’s output as soloist and collaborator is prodigious and eclectic.
Walking Home will be available through broadcast slots across BBC Radio and Television, through podcasts on BBC Sounds, and via the BBC Arts website.
Visit operanorth.co.uk for more information about the project.