AEONS: A SOUND WALK ALONG THE RIVER TYNE FOR THE GREAT EXHIBITION OF THE NORTH

30th April 2018

Martin Green Aeons Pic - small

Aeons, a new sound walk commissioned by Opera North, will take audiences on a musical journey along the banks of the Tyne and back through the ages in the centre of Newcastle this summer as part of the Great Exhibition of the North 2018. Free tickets are available to book from today.

The work of Martin Green of the visionary folk trio Lau, featuring the vocals of Ryton’s own Becky Unthank (The Unthanks), Mogwai’s Dominic Aitchison, the massed forces of the Chorus and Orchestra of Opera North and field recordings made along the river, Aeons is an epic, original piece of music designed to be heard through headphones during a half-hour walk along Hadrian’s Wall Path.

Aeons is supported by National Lottery players through funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) which is supporting a number of elements of the Great Exhibition of the North 2018.

Having collected their headsets at Gateshead Millennium Bridge on the North Bank, walkers will step into a unique sonic adventure, immersed in a musical world that evolves by means of hidden ‘triggers’ as they move through the physical landscape, under six historic bridges and out to the western fringes of the city centre.

From a single singing voice to the full might and main of the Opera North ensembles, from the Quayside with its medieval remnants, past the site of the Roman and Old Tyne Bridges now occupied by the Victorian Swing Bridge, under Stephenson’s magnificent High Level Bridge to the sweeping concrete spans of the Redheugh, Aeons promises an intense, personal experience of the river as a place of imagination, a place of wonder and constant change. Recordings made with a state-of the-art binaural head – an artificial human head with microphones fitted inside the ears – will create a stunning illusion of 3D sound.

Composer Martin Green comments:

“We often think of music as the soundtrack to our lives. Well, this half hour of it has been tailor-made according to our changing surroundings as we follow the River Tyne past the vestiges of centuries of human history, and back into deep geological time.

“As a composer, I’ve never had this degree of control over how people actually listen to the music before. In concerts the room and the amplification system are different every time, and people sit in different places in the room anyway; and even on record people listen on all sorts of different devices and speakers.

“With Aeons though, we have made bespoke music for the specific headphones everyone will be wearing. This gives me a freedom I’ve never had before, to make tiny sounds and place them right next to the listener, or to come up in the centre of a 32-strong chorus, and hear those singers from every direction. The field recordings, painstakingly made in true binaural sound on Hadrian’s Wall Path, add another, extraordinary sonic dimension.

“Working with the dexterous might of the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North has been a joyous experience. And who better to celebrate the North East than Becky Unthank, who has graced Aeons with her matchless vocals and her incredible knowledge of traditional song.”

Jo Nockels, Projects Manager, Opera North, comments:

“As England’s national opera company in the North, we were delighted to be invited to participate in the Great Exhibition’s celebration of our region.

“Aeons is a pan-Northern endeavour, both in terms of the artists we are working with and the locations that are incorporated in the finished sound walk: Becky Unthank’s breathtaking vocals were recorded in a former church in Northumberland; the awesome sound of the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North was captured in Leeds Town Hall; and Martin Green and sound recordist Mike Winship have been making eerie binaural recordings along the River Tyne itself.

“We started this project thinking about the saying: ‘No-one ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and they are not the same person.’ Martin’s immersive and completely absorbing soundtrack to the River Tyne takes flight from that phrase, transforming the listener’s relationship with the route of the walk along the river’s edge”.

Ivor Crowther, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund North East, comments:

“The Great Exhibition of the North is an unrivalled opportunity to shine the spotlight on the North of England’s incredible heritage and we’re delighted that money raised by National Lottery players is going to have such a big impact for millions of visitors to the event this year.”

“Aeons will be a fantastic part of the exhibition, a truly interactive way to experience the heritage on our doorstep.”

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Aeons will open as part of the spectacular Get North! opening event on Friday 22 June at the Great Exhibition of the North’s Quayside Hub, which also includes the Get North Water Sculpture, the UK’s largest water at 80m long and the height of the Tyne Bridge, that will perform to a soundtrack of three specially commissioned music compositions. Walks will run at 10am, 11.30am, 1.00pm and 2.30pm each day from Monday to Saturday until Friday 7 September (excluding Monday 23 July and Monday 20 August). Tickets are free but booking via getnorth2018.com is essential.

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For more information on the full programme visit www.getnorth2018.com