Sounding the City: a psychogeographical sonic tour of Canterbury

May 1, 2014

Created for the Sounds New Festival 2014, Sonogeography: Canterbury is an audio interpretation and realisation of the map of the city; psychogeography meets sonic composition. The layout of the city is fascinating – the overspilling of the place over its own boundary walls, the broken ring of the roads surrounding it, the plethora of ancient buildings and the peaceful river split and flowing through its centre. Created from field recordings taken while walking the perimeter roads and influenced by the musical creation being explored by this our festival this year, this piece is an evolving ambient work referencing music, history, topography and human relationships.

Ben Horner is a sound artist, electronic composer, live performer and lecturer in audio technology and composition. Interested in sound for space and the psychoacoustic properties inherent in audio composition, Ben works extensively with field recordings and interview material to create pieces based on cultural and geographic reference points. These raw materials are often treated and manipulated to convey an atmosphere and a sense of ‘the where’, socially, historically and spatially. His work can also be found installed as part of the Piano in the Woods project at the Sidney Cooper Gallery from Friday 2nd May.

Find out more about Audiosphere online here.

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Three Questions: Led Bib

April 7, 2014

Coming to Sounds New next month, I put Three Questions to Led Bib‘s Mark Holub.


Tell us about the group

Led Bib is a band which I started as part of my Masters degree in 2003, and it played its first gig in 2004(celebrating 10 years this year!). It plays music which sits somewhere in between rock, jazz, improv and some other genres…..and I am pleased to say that as the band developed it was just as much about the other guys in its ideas as mine, a truly musical collaboration.

Image: Matt Crossick

Image: Matt Crossick

What excites you about contemporary music ?
In all genres it is great seeing people trying to push themselves and their music to new places. I’ve never really understood the desire to recreate work that has already existed, so I have tried to push myself too.

What can we expect from your performance at Sounds New next month ?
The performance at Sounds New is going to feature music from our new album, which is coming out April 21st. The Sounds New show is the last of our 13 dates UK tour, so we will have really gotten to grips with the new material; we always love playing in Canterbury, so I look forward to a really special show.

To whet your appetites, here’ the video to the band’s latest single, which has been released this very morning…


Word up: Sounds New Poetry 2014

April 1, 2014

Sounds New is excited to develop its Sounds New Poetry thread, a collaboration between the festival and the University of Kent, once more as part of this year’s festival.

This year, the poetic side of the festival includes a three-day public residency at the Beany House of Art and Knowledge in the heart of the city, at which various poets will be inviting members of the public to interact with them, leading into performances in the evening at Mrs Jones’ Kitchen.  There will also be site-specific readings around Canterbury, as the stones of the ancient city ring to the spoken word

Nancy Gaffield

Nancy Gaffield

On Saturday 3 May, Nancy Gaffield & David Herd will be at Eastbridge Hospital at midday. Established to receive, lodge and sustain Canterbury’s wayfarers and pilgrims,  poets Nancy Gaffield and David Herd read work written in response to this defining city space. Inspired by the resources at the Beaney, poet Kat Peddie will be running a combined performance and workshop on collage poetry at the Beaney Museum at 3pm. She will be using the space and resources of the library to explore methods of creating collage, reading from her own collages and helping the audience to make their own collage poems from found materials in the library.

On Sunday 4th May, and using St Thomas’ Church as his starting point, Ben Hickman will present a poetic but meaty history of revolt in Kent and Kent in revolt at 12.30pm. Over at the Roman Museum at 3pm, and drawing upon sites from Roman Canterbury via their present-day locations, Eleanor Perry will perform new work that investigates ideas about the perceptions and expectations of women in Roman society, as well as their effacement from history.Also drawing inspiration from their surroundings in Whitefriars on Monday 5 May, Patricia Debney and Juha Virtanen will present new work that explores mental illness, human relations, control, and hopelessness. Their responses will oscillate between directness and obliquity.

Sounds New Poetry is proud to present an evening of readings curated by ZONE at Mrs Jones’ Kitchen, 9pm. ZONE is a collective of writers & critics based in Canterbury. It produces a biannual international magazine of poetry and criticism. Reading will be poets published in ZONE’s first two issues: Áine Belton, Ian Brinton, Laurie Duggan & Dorothy Lehane.

Carol Watts

Carol Watts

Three poets will be writing publically at The Beaney during three days as part of festival, between 12-2pm,  during which time members of the public are invited to interact with them.  Inspired by her surroundings, Carol Watts will be writing new work  on Tuesday May 6th. Building on her work createdduring the day, she will perform work that responds to the Festival’s corresponding relationship between the ephemera of site and sound at Mrs Jones’ Kitchen at 9pm that evening.

Harriet Tarlo

Harriet Tarlo

The next day, Harriet Tarlo will be writing publicly at The Beaney; in the evening, she will present work that opens up the connections between place and performance at Mrs Jones’ Kitchen 9pmFinally, on Thursday May 8th,  Jeff Hilson will be writing at The Beany, and in the evening will perform new work that arises from the intersections between poetry and music.

Celebrating the synergy between the written word, surrounding spaces and contemporary music: Sounds New Poetry promises to be a fascinating aspect of the 2014 festival next month. Find out more about the events and the poets taking part on our website here.

For further details or enquiries about Sounds New Poetry, click here, or contact Dr Juha Virtanen by email here.


Gallery: the opening of the Universe of Sound in Canterbury

May 1, 2013

All images © Sounds New / Peter Cook


Mallets in Wonderland: an interview with percussionist Greg Felton

April 30, 2013

With the Universe of Sound installation in full swing at Augustine House, I caught up with percussionist Greg Felton, who’s a part of the experience; he told me about his involvement with the project, the ‘stress-relief’ possibilities of percussion-playing, and the discovery of some choice eateries in town…

Tell us a bit about your background

Greg: I trained as a percussionist at the Guildhall School of Music, and after graduation I worked as a percussionist for a couple of contemporary dance companies.  I eventually began to dabble in creating promotional films for musical projects and music videos, editing and website design, and so decided to do an internship with the Philharmonia’s digital department, in order to learn how to do all these digital things properly.

Greg_1Whilst I was at the end of my internship we filmed Universe of Sound in January 2012. Since completing my internship I’ve been working as a freelancer, doing camera operating, film editing, score reading, as well as performing as a percussionist and drummer.  I’m a regular freelancer for the Philharmonia’s digital department when they need an extra pair of hands, and I live in the Percussion room throughout Universe of Sound.

How did you come to be involved in the project ?

Greg: When we set up Universe of Sound at the Science Museum, we realized that it would require a percussionist in the room to help encourage people to join in and play along, and to make sure people have the correct drum sticks in their hands etc.  We’d filmed the on-screen tutorials, where two percussionists from the Philharmonia describe the next percussion entry, and these worked well.  But as the installation progressed,  I was able to devise a kind of ‘rolling-percussion-workshop’ which would shift depending on who was in the room and what they wanted to do, and at what time they had arrived during the piece.

What’s been your experience of it – visitors reactions; do they get stuck in, are they shy ?

Greg: I find that whilst some people can be a little hesitant at first, the moment you have tried one of the tutorials, it becomes addictive.  It wasn’t unusual to get people who played the entire hour-long piece through on percussion.  In some extreme cases, people were coming back, day after day, learning the percussion parts all from memory.  It works on so many levels, with wild schools workshops with bigger groups, to more personal detailed sessions where people get a real sense of what it involves to be an orchestral percussionist.

And now of course the percussion is in the Portakabin, which helps a lot!  Previously when the percussion room was attached to the main room, we’d need to be a bit sensitive during the quieter movements such as Venus, so that the music wasn’t drowned out by noise.  But now if someone wants to feel the full force of the bass drum and tam-tam, they can do so at any moment during the piece.  You’re free to hit anything you’d like, as loud or soft as you’d like, with or without a tutorial.  It’s more flexible.

What benefit or value do you think the project has ?

Greg: It works on all levels.  But I think it’s important to feel just how much expressive potential there is in the percussion section.  I love it when people are overwhelmed by the ridiculous volume of the tam-tam.  I can then confirm to them that it really is that loud in the orchestra.  The percussionists really do strike their instruments that hard when Holst writes ‘fff’ as a dynamic.  It’s important people see that there is nothing ‘safe’ about orchestral music.  It’s intense and brilliant.

Have you had any mad moments with visitors to the installation ?

Greg: So far in Canterbury we’ve had some brilliant moments.  At one stage we had about thirty people in the percussion portakabin all at once, comprised of a schools group along with some students from the university, and some adults.  Together, we all played through the Talbot piece, Worlds, Stars, Systems, Infinity and straight back round to Mars again. Yesterday, two students let off some ‘dissertation stress’ on the bass drum, which was hilarious!

And how are you finding Canterbury during your stay  ?

Currently loving Canterbury!  We discovered the Belgian beer restaurant, which also does stunning food.  Also had some amazing crepes in the Chocolate Café, and we even had an evening when we caught some bands at a gig up at the studio in the Marlowe Theater.  There’s a lot going on here, and we’re really enjoying ourselves.

Follow Greg on Twitter. With thanks to Greg for his time.


Universe of Sound around town

April 22, 2013

The Universe of Sound is already making its presence felt around Canterbury, with only five days until it launches.

The Conducting Pod in the foyer of the Marlowe Theatre uses video screens and stereo speakers to immerse you in the experience of conducting part of Holst’s Planets suite;

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Whilst the foyer to Christ Church University displays a giant poster advertising the installation, which opens this Saturday at Augustine Hall.

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Only five days left…


Universe of Sound: step behind the scenes

April 12, 2013

Follow the making of the Universe of Sound in the Philharmonia’s April video podcast, which explores the creation of the project from January 2012; click here.

universe_of_soundSounds New is delighted to be a partner in bringing this exciting project to Canterbury; lift-off on Saturday 27 April.


CoMA London coming to Sounds New next month

April 8, 2013

Next month, the London arm of CoMA (Contemporary Music for All) returns to Sounds New, for a day’s workshop at Christ Church University on Saturday 4 May.

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CoMA at Sounds New in 2012

The ensemble visited the festival last year, in a lunchtime concert conducted by Gregory Rose (pictured) that included works by Tansy Davies and Philip Cashian. This year, some of tomorrow’s composers being nurtured here in Canterbury will have their music performed.

Find out more on the CoMA webpage here.


Universe of Sound: video

April 6, 2013

With exactly three weeks until the Universe of Sound installation comes to Canterbury, here’s a short video from the Science Museum about what’s in store.

universe_of_soundSounds New is delighted to be a partner in bringing this unique project to Canterbury. The odyssey begins on Saturday 27 April.


Sounds New a winner at the Canterbury Culture Awards

June 22, 2012

We’re delighted to announce that Sounds New was awarded Destination Canterbury 2012 at last night’s Canterbury Culture Awards. This award, sponsored by ABode, is given to the arts organisation that brings the greatest national and international cultural credit to the city;

For an organisation, group or individual who has done most in the last twelve months to raise the profile of the District’s cultural offering regionally, nationally and internationally.

We’re extremely proud; the award is a terrific acknowledgement of the Festival’s efforts in bringing major cultural figures to Canterbury, significant composers, performers and ensembles from the world of international contemporary music and giving people in the region the opportunity to experience music performed by many of the world’s leading national and international players, as well as all the related arts and educational projects that combine in Sounds New. The entire team behind the delivery of this year’s Festival, including its Artistic Director, Paul Max Edlin, and Festival Manager, Michelle Castelletti, is thoroughly delighted.

culture_awardsCongratulations to all the winners at last night’s award ceremony, which recognised the region as a vibrant cultural area with a great deal of individuals, organisations and events contributing to make Kent a dynamic area, rich in artistic and creative initiatives.