Walking Home – Sound Journeys From Opera North

Now we can exercise more outdoors, Opera North has announced its commission for BBC Arts and Arts Council England’s Culture in Quarantine programme.

Walking Home: Sound Journeys for Lockdown builds on the Leeds-based company’s history of award-winning and innovative sound walks and installations. New works are currently being written and will be recorded by five artists specifically to be listened to whilst walking.

Contributors are cellist and composer Abel Selaocoe; qanun virtuoso Maya Youssef; oud player and composer Khyam Allami, vocalist, violinist and songwriter Alice Zawadski; and accordionist and experimentalist Martin Green of the folk trio Lau. This mix of folk, Middle Easterns and African tradition, jazz, classical and contemporary music lends itself to experiment and boundary-breaking.

Walking Home is one of 25 new commissions for Culture in Quarantine, made for people in lockdown by people in lockdown. Each piece lasts 15 minutes, which is perfect for a solitary walk and renewing our connections with our environment.  

Abel Selaocoe by Ben Bonouvrier

Jo Nockels, Opera North’s Head of Projects, said “The spark for the Walking Home commissions came from the strange alchemy we found between walker, place and music that was powerfully evident in the past sound journey commissions we have made for the Humber Bridge and River Tyne.

While these five new walking commissions are on a much more intimate scale, and meant for wherever you are, all five respond to the dynamic of walking, listening through headphones and taking in your surroundings to produce an experience as much created by the listener as by the artists.  They might offer a soundtrack to a daily escape from lockdown; intensify the sensations experienced on their chosen route; or conjure up something altogether harder to define.

We are delighted to be working with five such brilliant and varied composer/musicians on this project, each of whom innovates way beyond the boundaries of genre. Together they will form a collection of music that is refreshing, unexpected and individual.”

The Culture in Quarantine mission is to bring the arts to UK homes via radio, tv and podcasts whilst COVID-19 restrictions are in place.

Feature photograph is Maya Youssef by Sarah Ginn.

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