Caught by the River

Living Symphonies

14th July 2019

Situated in a clearing not far from Chingford Plain and easily accessible by public transport, Living Symphonies is a musical composition that grows and evolves in the same way as a forest ecosystem – and is the latest in a series of happenings announced as part of The People’s Forest, a season of work curated by Kirsteen McNish and Luke Turner for the first ever Mayor’s London Borough Of Culture in Waltham Forest. The installation is also a flagship event of the National Park City Festival, London’s largest free celebration of the great outdoors, which marks the capital becoming the world’s first National Park City.  

After a comprehensive ecological survey of the installation site, Epping Forest’s flora and fauna are each given their own unique set of musical motifs. These are then recorded, and emerge according to the changing atmosphere as part of the complex inter-woven fabric of the forest. Different sounds may emerge, for instance, when a tree is taking up water, or when a bird of prey is circling overhead in response to the warm weather. This ever-changing, complex symphony of the woodland is played via a network of speakers hidden among the trees. This music combines with the sound of the forest itself.

Unlike a conventional piece of pre-recorded music, Living Symphonies is always changing and evolving, reflecting the weather conditions and the activity of the different species that make up the forest landscape. In the sound playing out across this clearing, just a few tens of metres from the houses and streets of London, we hear the echo of a relationship between the capital and its surroundings that stretches back across the generations.

Musicians Ellie Wilson (Stick in the Wheel), Chlöe Herington (Knifeworld/Chrome Hoof), Sarah Anderson (Bas Jan), Jenny May Logan (Heritage Orchestra) and Sam Glazer (Firefly Burning) will be involved in interpreting the music for piece, most of whom have an existing deep relationship with the forest itself.

Living Symphonies is composed and realised by artists Jones/Bulley, runs from 20–28 July 2019, 11am-8pm, and is free (no need to book). More information here.