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The Height of the Reeds released

The Height of the Reeds, our celebrated sound installation on the Humber Bridge for Hull UK City of Culture 2017, will have a new life when it is released on CD and LP by the Norwegian label Rune Grammofon today.

The epic ‘sound walk’ opened last April, a unique interactive artwork that could only be experienced on the Humber Bridge. The longest single-span suspension bridge in the world that can be crossed on foot, the Bridge’s 2,220-metre length helped to define the form of The Height of the Reeds for its composers, Norwegian musicians Arve Henriksen, Jan Bang and Eivind Aarset, and Hull-based field recording artist Jez riley French. The installation was fully booked for its duration, which was extended through May and June 2017 due to overwhelming demand.

The piece explores the Bridge’s significance as both a symbol of home and a landmark of travel, by mixing local voices with music from Hull’s historical trading partners across the water in Scandinavia. Each track takes its name from a poem by Norwegian poet Nils Christian Moe-Repstad, originally voiced for the sound walk by Hull-born actors Maureen Lipman and Barrie Rutter, and Katie Smith, aged 7, a pupil from Bude Park Primary School in Bransholme, where Opera North delivered a Singing School programme for three years.

With the commercial release of the soundtrack, The Height of the Reeds will be available to experience wherever, whenever and however the listener chooses – although headphones are recommended to fully appreciate the depth and subtlety of the suite.

Jez riley French, Jan Bang and Arve Henriksen at the opening of The Height of the Reeds, May 2017 © Sean Spencer

Composer, musician and producer Jan Bang comments:

“This large-scale commission from Opera North proved a wonderful opportunity to explore new working methods for Arve, Eivind and myself as composers and performers. Working closely with arranger Alexander Waaktaar and the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North under conductor Justin Doyle, not to mention Hull-based and internationally-respected field recordist Jez riley French, has given the work a specific identifiable character as a whole. The goodwill and close support we received from the Hull UK City of Culture volunteers and staff made it all a joyful ride.

The album has been reworked from the original material, with titles pulled from the original poems by Nils Christian Moe Repstad and artwork and design by Kim Hiorthøy.”

Rune Grammofon’s limited white vinyl edition of The Height of the Reeds has already sold out, but a standard LP and CD are available from all good record shops now.

Opera North returns to Hull this autumn, bringing a striking new production of Puccini’s Tosca and a revival of Lehár’s comic operetta The Merry Widow to Hull New Theatre from Thursday 1 November.


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