Key details of “a massive musical dawn chorus” may remain under wraps but it promises to be a star-studded, homegrown affair.
Members of Massive Attack and Portishead, as well as outgoing City Poet Vanessa Kisuule are among the lineup of musical and artistic contributors joining forces for Sky Orchestra, a project by acclaimed Bristol artist Luke Jerram and BAFTA-winning composer Dan Jones.
Coming to the city on an undisclosed date this month, the unique event will feature a flotilla of seven hot air balloons with speakers attached to deliver an instrumental dawn chorus from the sky for people across the city. It will be one of the largest surround sound artworks in the world.
The project features the premiere of a new composition commissioned by Bristol Old Vic, while Grant Marshall (aka Daddy G) and Stew Jackson of of Massive Attack and Adrian Utley of Portishead, are all involved in either creating or playing on the soundtrack.
Vanessa Kisuule has written a spoken word contribution and Elizabeth Purnell, a renowned theatre and TV writer, composer and sound designer, has created the string arrangements.
The aim is to create an uplifting visual and musical experience in surround sound. The dates and times of the performance are being kept secret to avoid crowds coming out to watch the launch when social distancing must be maintained. It will be announced on the day, just as the balloons take off.
Luke Jerram, the artist behind high profile pieces including Museum of the Moon, Play Me I’m Yours and Park and Slide, says: “As the city begins to unlock, we wanted a way to deliver an uplifting experience to people in their homes. Something spectacular, yet somehow intimate; to create a sense of renewal, hope and rebirth, to raise the public’s spirits and mark a moment in time.
“I’d love to see how people experience the Sky Orchestra from around the city so please do share your photos and videos on social media, using the hashtag #skyorchestra.”
Ballooning crews are being brought together by lead pilot Peter Dalby, and the performance has only just been made possible as social distancing restrictions have been relaxed to allow pilots and crews to work together safely.
Drew Morgan is the cello soloist for the piece and Jo Bacon, Jerome Gamble and Joe Harding and Tom Nosek are among the emerging young Bristol talent due to perform. Both Stew Jackson and Jerome Gamble will be playing electric guitars in balloons live during the Sky Orchestra performance.
Dan, a Bristol-based BAFTA and three-time Ivor Novello award-winning composer, has been working on the project with Luke since the start of lockdown and is co-creating the new score.
“We’re excited to be bringing together some of Bristol’s most celebrated musicians alongside emerging young talent from across the city,” he says.
“Bristol continues to be a launchpad for musical innovation that spreads right around the world. This is a great opportunity for all of us to thank the city as a continued source of inspiration.”
Tom Morris, artistic director of Bristol Old Vic, adds: “All of Bristol is a theatre and the safest performance space in the world is the sky. Bristol Old Vic may be closed, for now, but the ears and eyes and hearts of all Bristolians are not and the need for inspiring work by our most extraordinary artists is greater than ever under the effect of the pandemic.
“We are thrilled to be able to collaborate with Luke and Dan and a host of Bristolian musicians on this wonderful project, their gift to the city during lockdown. May it bring hope and delight to all who see and hear it.”
Main image provided by Spirit PR
Read more: Sky Orchestra to return to Bristol