Concert for no-one

'Concert for no-one' is a combination of recordings from three rooms/spaces in a once derelict cathedral in Bristol, called the Pro-Cathedral. I gained access to the space the weekend before developers were due to come in and demolish the interior, while retaining the outer walls in the new development.

My initial idea was to record my friend Rebecca Sharp playing harp in the resonant spaces, but dates were moved and she couldn't make it, so I took my old acoustic guitar, e-bow and microphones in order to capture something of the sonic character of building. The three spaces were the Crypt, the Concert Hall and the Main Hall.

While recording the guitar I captured the most recent inhabitants - travelers - moving their collected belongs out. This inspired me to start moving various objects around the space myself, especially in the Concert Hall and Main Hall. I have to acknowledge witnessing performances by artists such as John Grzinich, Maksims Shentelevs, Patrick McGinley and many others, as well as the work of Kiyoharu Kuwuyama as an influence on this work.

This is my most performative piece since playing in rock bands in my dim and distant past, although as the title says, with no audience!

I feel the concert setting is most obviously alluded to when moving a chair around, recalling those moments when a performance tentatively begins and there are a number of the audience who remain unaware of this for a time.

The recordings are layered in such a way that you hear all three spaces simultaneously, as if you were somewhere between all of them, travelling around within walls that no longer exist.

Thanks go out to Cotton and Hinch for access to the space, Rebecca Sharp although absent and Impulsive Habitat for believing in the work.
-Simon Whetham

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Capturing the essence of a place, making it resonate without fading, using his own moving body as an intrinsic part of the performance, as small as one can be in front of such a careless cathedral, doomed to the common end of numerous buildings, misleading shape whose interior is remodeled, destroying all space, keeping only the front walls.

The artist offers three superimposed sound recordings, out of which emanates an immediate feeling of closeness and remoteness together, as microphones were placed in different  locations in the cathedral.

There is something about isolation, it is a work marked with loneliness, but above all, it is a committed work, as a retrieved testimony from the last inhabitant, a trace from before the end.

Oh surely, he is not as alone as he claims to be, one hears some pigeons, cliff birds having built their nest in this abandoned spot. He also gains company, a guitar and an e-bow, creating a stationary wave that haloes space. Besides, he states that he had planned to record the harpist Rebecca Sharp, calendar issues forcing him to come alone, and that is probably better. Not the point to diminish the musical qualities of his friend, but certain locations appeal for an utter solitude, as this cathedral is.

Closely listening, one grabs almost at the end the distant siren of an ambulance, and this is just not trivial, as around silence was really total, unless the vibrating string below the e-bow, which recalls the pitch of a flat electrocardiogram, when the heart of the cathedral gave up beating, dying alone, ambulance has gone, too tiny vehicle for a so huge patient.

Only pigeons remain at the end, when disappears the last vital heartbeat, when chairs are tidied up, when there is no one left but the real estate agents, of course.

The artist becomes a remote priest, and what he proposes is not so much a concert for no one than a requiem mass, some last ceremony for a lost flock, in memoriam of a worship place soon to be converted into business spaces, one religion chases another away, not always for the better.

-Flavien Gillié (from The Field Reporter) Translation by Sismophone



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artwork/cover design:
©2012 Artur Lesniak
©2012 David Vélez
©2012 Simon Whetham
©2012 Impulsive Habitat

This work is licensed under a BY-NC-SA 3.0
Creative Commons License.

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