Requiem for 114 Radios
In what appeared to be an abandoned archive, 114 domestic, analogue radio sets stacked on shelves came to life in communal song in this new work by acclaimed artists and film-makers Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard (20,000 Days on Earth) within the cellars of Colston Hall as part of the Bristol New Music Festival 2016. The work was co-commissioned by Ginkgo with the Colston Hall, Bristol and funded by Urban Creation.
Individual voices were broadcast to the sets, and as some radios joined together in harmony, others crackled and found the ‘inbetween space’ between clear and broken reception. Collectively these unseen singers performed a dramatic new version of Dies Irae from the Roman Catholic Requiem Mass.
High profile guest vocalists were invited to contribute their voice to the disembodied choir, and singers included:
Matt Berninger (The National)
Jehnny Beth (Savages)
Casper Clausen (Efterklang/Liima)
Jimi Goodwin (Doves)
Rachel Goswell (Slowdive, Minor Victories)
Blaine Harrison (Mystery Jets)
Joe McAlinden (Linden, ex. Superstar/BMX Bandits)
Aimee Nash (The Black Ryder)
Conrad Standish (The Devastations)
Jonnine Standish (HTRK)
Elena Tonra (Daughter)
Rachel Zeffira (Cat’s Eyes)
Famously interpreted by composers such as Verdi and Mozart, and used to chilling effect by Stanely Kubrick in A Clockwork Orange and The Shining, the Dies Irae is a powerful portent of doom. This new work gave a playful nod to Kubrick and his fictional piece of radio equipment – the CRM 114 Discriminator – while also calling to mind Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus and the enigmatic radio transmissions which carried coded messages from the British Military to the French resistance during World War Two.
A world premiere and Bristol New Music Commission, Requiem for 114 Radios was a testament to the death of analogue technology, as the radios called upon an intricate universe of mysterious messages, modulated hisses, mangled voices and incomprehensible words. Messages of death permeated a radiophonic babel and the rarely accessed cellars of Colston Hall became the space for a remarkable and unpredictable performance.
Following the success of Reguiem for 114 Radios at Colston Hall cellars, it is now touring and will form part of the ‘Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick’ exhibition of art at Somerset House from 6 July to 24 August 2016.
Watch a Q&A with Iain & Jane about the project: