Nature and environment explored through contemporary works
This article is from 2016.
From Mahler to Messiaen, Beethoven to Bartok, composers have long been inspired by the sounds of the natural world. Threading this theme through the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s Tectonics festival of new music, curator Ilan Volkov presents more recent examples of how our environment can be heard in the work of contemporary composers.
New Zealander Annea Lockwood, who grew up with nature thanks to her father’s love of mountaineering, brings her installation Sound Map of the Housatonic River to Glasgow. A 150-mile stretch of water that flows through south-western Connecticut into Long Island Sound, the Housatonic provided Lockwood with the river and riparian sounds she recorded from various points along its course to create the work.
'I started at its sources,' she says, 'of which there are three. One is a beautiful pond with birds and a rail road, so there are the sounds of a train as well as wildlife. I recorded steadily down river, including underwater, where you never know what you’ll hear.' In total, over a year, Lockwood recorded from 30 sites, 18 of which feature in the actual sound map.
'There are some very intimate sounds, as at times the water is very quiet, with little ripples. But it is also powerful due to the dams and weirs along the way. It can be very beautiful too, with sounds of frogs and toads.'
Lockwood, who has worked similarly with the Hudson and the Danube, is fascinated by how people are drawn to water. 'We come from water,' she says, ‘from the amniotic fluid of the womb. We find the sounds of water nourishing, and, at the same time, stimulating and soothing.
Lockwood’s other featured work, Jitterbug, is a collaborative piece in which pianist John Tilbury and ensemble interpret Rocky Mountain rock patterns as musical scores.
Tectonics, Sat 7 & Sun 8 May, City Halls and Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow.