Moments in Time by John Stead

We were delighted when BAFTA winning composer John Stead accepted our request to compose a new musical work as the culmination of Open Bridges to take place during the freedom season of Hull’s City of Culture year. The world premiere of John’s piece, Moments in Time was a wonderful, quite surreal experience.  The music, diffused in octophonic sound by eight loudspeakers swirled around the amphitheatre, filling the space and immersing the audience in sound, building from the delicate splashes of Tibetan bells to powerful wave like crescendos sweeping from one side of the space to the other. It was a fascinating experience to see the capacity crowd at the Stage@TheDock moving around the amphitheatre some people clearly listening intently to the music, absorbing every sound, others slowly moving their bodies in otherworldly dances. Unexpectedly – for me – as the sounds swelled to crashing waves and deep metallic bridge movements the crowd moved faster, and as the music diminished to exquisite tiny single bells the crowd slowed and stopped in their tracks. The whole experience was incredible, taking us on a journey from the countryside source of the River Hull to it’s industrial urban purpose to finally come full circle and set us down back in the fields – something we will never forget.

Thank you to our Open Bridges event photographer Graeme Oxby for all the photographs on this page. Click on an image in the gallery to see the full picture and scroll through…

“A short time after I had been given this commission I was walking in the Wolds, listening to rooks calling and decided to record them. At that point I realised these sounds would begin this work – everything else followed…” John Stead 2017

John Stead at Open Bridges portrait by Graeme Oxby

Open Bridges Programme: Live diffusions by John Stead in octophonic sound

Moments in Time (2017) by John Stead -duration 20.17

Elementa (1998) by Jean-Claude Risset

Cycle du Son (1998) by Francis Dhomont

Read Nigel Bartram’s review of the evening:

“So following the excitement of events on the river, the audience were gently lead to the stage at the dock for a lot of people’s first experience of a multi speaker musique concrete concert in this almost perfectly designed arena. The reflections from the dock wall and the C4Di building, and the acoustic warmth of the wooden floor and seating provided a lovely acoustic for the detail in the premiere of John Stead’s ‘Moments in Time’. The spontaneous reaction of the packed crowd was fascinating. As one member of the audience remarked “people were happy to walk around in a way that you might do at home to aid thinking and listening…”. Certainly by doing this people were able to create their own unique experience of the event as they moved within the circle of speakers. As the piece entered a calm mid-point following the onrush of early activity, the audience too stood still before moving again with the increased dynamic movement of the final section and the aural glide upwards to where we began with the sounds of rooks. Without doubt this participatory audience involvement is an exciting and innovatory dimension to this genre of music.

John Stead continued his performance displaying finesse as he diffused the works by Risset and Dhomont (a skilled process placing events in the works in different speaker locations and blending the results). This was a rare opportunity for an audience to hear these works, but hopefully not the last. ” Nigel Bartram, 22nd September 2017

Rich & Lou Duffy-Howard

Rich & Lou as the music begins photograph by Graeme Oxby

Open Bridges is a whole tapestry of threads. It’s a celebration of the lifeblood of the city, the River Hull and its 13 movable bridges – more than any other city. Beautiful historic vessels representing three centuries – 18th century HMS Pickle, 19th century Humber Keel Comrade and 20th century MV Syntan mustered on the River Hull, met on the Humber by powerful 21st century tugs from SMS Towage and Svitzer. Open Bridges is an exploration of the notion of freedom during the City of Culture’s Freedom Season. The culmination of Open Bridges – the live world premiere of John Stead’s new musical work, Moments in Time was magical. And the city momentarily split in two – for the first time ever.

Open Bridges is an independent all Hull based project by Duffy-Howard Music taking place during the Hull City of Culture Freedom Season. We are delighted that every aspect of planning and delivery of Open Bridges is by people in Hull.