Composers from Guildhall School of Music & Drama have been commissioned by Illuminated River Foundation to compose and record new music to celebrate the first phase of the ambitious public art commission for London that is to eventually see up to 15 bridges lit along the River Thames.

Realised over a three-year process, the Illuminated River Foundation has led a team consisting of artist Leo Villareal and architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands to create Illuminated River. The first four bridges – London, Cannon Street, Southwark and Millennium – were illuminated last night, Wednesday 17 July. They are to be viewed over 60 million times each year, and once complete, Illuminated River is expected to be the longest public art installation in the world.

Composers from both the Composition and Electronic Music departments of Guildhall School have created original scores inspired by the context and architecture of the first four bridges, as well as Leo Villareal’s artwork. The pieces capture the character of each bridge, with some arranged for full orchestra and others using spoken-word poetry, found sound and electronica, to tell the story of these historic monuments.

The music has been recorded by the professional musicians of the Guildhall Session Orchestra, an ensemble of alumni which was recently founded to meet the growing demands of Guildhall’s Electronic Music department and the increasing external opportunities which also involve other departments of the School.

The compositions can be listened to and downloaded for free on the Illuminated River webpage. The music is to be performed on Wednesday 31 July in a free open air multimedia performance at The Scoop on the banks of the Thames, and, later in the year, will be showcased in a concert at Guildhall School’s Milton Court Concert Hall on Tuesday 24 September. Local community groups and schools are to be invited to attend this concert for free, and discounted tickets made available for students and young people. The works can also be heard in the Illuminated River room at the Guildhall Art Gallery, where they feature alongside historic Thames paintings and visualisations of the project as a free display until Sunday 1 September.

With the support of VocalEyes, Illuminated River will produce audio descriptions of the artwork for each bridge, interweaving these new musical scores with key architectural information and descriptions encompassing the rich historical and social backgrounds of each bridge. The audio descriptions will be available for free online in order to enable those who are blind or partially sighted to experience the artwork in a different way.


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