Latest City of Culture event: the bridge that makes its own music

Arve Henriksen, jazz trumpeter and one of the composers of Height of the Reeds
Arve Henriksen, jazz trumpeter and one of the composers of Height of the Reeds
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It's a bridge you may have walked over many times, but a major new sound installation will make you listen to it like you never did before.

From the sonorous rumblings of traffic passing overhead, to the echoes from its internal chambers and the soughing of its cables, the Humber Bridge makes its own music in Opera North's new work Height of the Reeds.
For the first time today walkers set out with headphones to cross the landmark, listening to the multi-layered composition by Norwegian jazz trumpeter Arve Henriksen, electronic musician Jan Bang and guitarist Eivind Aarset. Woven into the music is poetry by Nils Christian Moe-Repstad, voiced by Barrie Rutter, Maureen Lipman and seven-year-old Hull schoolgirl Katie Smith, as well as the chorus and orchestra of Opera North.
Sound artist Jez riley French is a major contributor to the overall installation, created by Opera North for Hull's City of Culture celebrations, having spent hours inside the bridge's cavernous structure recording the way it resonates, using microphones so sensitive they can pick up noises the human ear usually cannot hear.
The bridge seems to make its own beautiful, enigmatic music, hollow notes, echoing sounds and surprisingly delicate notes, as do recordings from mics placed in the surrounding wetlands, picking up the noise of thousands of reeds beating in the wind like drumsticks.
Jez riley French explained how he'd been in the giant anchor pieces, which keeps the bridge anchored, as well as a tunnel going through the bridge, which has the road directly overhead. "That was quite unnerving," he said: "The cables and railings we played with - it is almost like a massive harp in some ways."
Jan Bang added: "We went inside the bridge together with Jez and listened to the sound of the cars moving across the bridge above our heads and Jez took some beautiful recordings of the cables resonating, which sounds like an orchestra itself. It is like the bridge is singing. It been so organic: the music (of the bridge) seems to have been coming out in a natural way. "Nothing has been forced."
Among those who made the first crossing was Roanna Craven, who travelled from Manchester.
She said it couldn't be defined as a genre: "It's a lot of different things, there's opera, the jazz trumpet. I like the random bits of poetry. I can see why it's been described as like a film score, it is dramatic."
Sue Atkinson, from Hull, has never walked across the bridge before. She said: "It's so atmospheric, very soulful, you were walking across thinking your own thoughts."
The event is sold out. Visit www.hull2017.co.uk

Walkers listen in through headphones as they cross the bridge's 2,220-metre span

Walkers listen in through headphones as they cross the bridge's 2,220-metre span

Roanna Craven - one of the first to experience the new sound installation for the Humber Bridge

Roanna Craven - one of the first to experience the new sound installation for the Humber Bridge

The title of the new Humber Bridge sound installation

The title of the new Humber Bridge sound installation