Image: Composer Dan Jones. Credit Garry Jones Photography
Today, 27 May, Coventry City of Culture Trust announced a major musical commission that will form the culmination of its signature event, Coventry Moves.
At exactly 20:21 on Saturday 5 June 2021, the people of Coventry will join together in the creation of a historic mass participation premiere, Coventry Moves Together - a monumental and ambitious piece of music by composer and sound artist Dan Jones.
Inspired by the legendary Coventry born composer and mathematician, Delia Derbyshire, the composition will be performed and experienced in surround sound by people in the city, using thousands of radios simultaneously tuned into a number of musical streams.
As neighbours each play one or more streams of the composition that they have agreed upon prior to broadcast through radios and other internet devices, the composition will come together as a single piece of music experienced exclusively by the people of Coventry before it is shared with audiences around the world.
Written for and powered by the people, this ground-breaking finale to Coventry Moves will see a beautiful, ambient cloud of sound reach 350,000 individuals from all communities on their own doorsteps, in their gardens and at workplaces across the city in just eight minutes. Coventry Moves Together is a unique undertaking, commissioned in lockdown with the ambition to reach and inspire the entire community safely and simultaneously.
Coventry Moves Together has bought together local and community radio stations operating at the heart of their communities including BBC CWR, Block Radio, Radio Panj, Hillz FM, Radio Abbey, Fresh, Vanny Radio, Radio Plus and Arawak – to create a world-first: a city-wide surround sound musical performance achieved by multiple radio stations.
Over the course of two months, Dan Jones worked with pupils at local primary schools to record contributions. As sounds from various radio stations begin to come together to create a dreamy, emotive sound, unscripted voices of the city’s school children will take centre stage. The work builds towards a final fanfare that marks a moment of togetherness as the voices of the children of Coventry share their hopes for the future.
As well as individual participants, neighbourhood groups, residents associations and others, Coventry Moves Together will be performed with the support of local businesses and services including libraries, faith groups, retailers, hotels, supermarkets, music venues, charities, transport networks, the police force and ambulance and fire services - broadcasting one of multiple streams of Jones’ score concurrently.
Composer Dan Jones says: “We are turning Coventry and its radio stations into a giant surround sound system brought together by the people of Coventry using every sound source they can lay their hands on; car stereos, phones, TVs, radios and more. The more people who participate, the more magical the effect will become as the tunes and sounds echo from one device to another, as if between different players in an orchestra. It’s a reflection of the idea of community itself - our reliance on each other in good times and tough. Most of all, thanks to the participation of the kids, it’s a herald of our future together, and all the promise that holds."
Chenine Bhathena, Creative Director of the Coventry City of Culture Trust, says: “Coventry Moves Together, is a truly audacious collective act. A rich musical tapestry of Coventrian voices will link one community to another, one household to its neighbour and each person to the next in a moving symbol of togetherness after a year of separation. Coventry Moves Together will mark a historic moment of shared experience, enabling the entire community to move as one and welcoming in the city’s year as UK City of Culture.”
Coventry Moves Together is an evolution of Dan Jones’s previous body of work and builds on his thinking about how a large-scale audio artwork can be created with surround sound, using it to make people the stars of the piece.
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