Caught by the River

Exaltation – The Lark Ascending

Richard King | 3rd May 2020

Richard King introduces a film by Rob St John – originally commissioned for a Barbican gig which never came to be.

This film is one of two commissioned for The Lark Ascending concert that was due to take place at The Barbican this March. The original intention was that my narration and parts of Rob St. John’s score would be performed live. 

Once we knew the event was no longer going to take place, Rob & I engaged in a long-distance collaboration to reinterpret our ideas and integrate the musical and spoken word elements into the films. 

We both live in relatively remote areas of the countryside and seemed to be adjusting to the situation in which we all currently find ourselves in fairly similar ways.  Many people will be familiar with the sensation that, in mid-March, time underwent and continues to undergo a disorientating effect of compression and expansion. When work began on the films, Rob and I each found ourselves sewing this year’s seeds with an acute, even unnerving attention to detail. The weeks that followed provided perfect growing conditions in which the seedlings established themselves, the sun shone every day and these films slowly arrived at completion. 

This is the strangest spring.

Filming, editing, sound recording and sound design by Rob St John. Narration of ‘Epilogue’ from The Lark Ascending: The Music of the British Landscape (Faber, 2019) recorded at home by Richard King. 

‘Exaltation’ features new sound recordings and compositions by Rob St John, alongside excerpts of previous work in Surface Tension, Soundmarks, Concrete Antenna, Modern Studies, Emergent Landscapes and Sing the Gloaming. Additional sound recordings from the Finnish Broadcasting Company, Yle Archives used under a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC-BY).

You will hear: larks, curlews, lapwings, oystercatchers, swifts, fence wires bowing in the wind, underwater photosynthesis, tank fire heard through metal warning signs, decaying oceanic communication cables, creaking sea ice, water running through plant stems, the resonance of underground bunkers and boreholes, electromagnetic fields, upland springs and more.