Sound of the Breeze Song of the Waves
site-sensitive community engagement soundscape installation
Deep Listening represents a heightened state of awareness and connects to all that there is.
Leona was one of six composers commissioned to create sound installations available from a touchpad in the multi-faith chapel space in the Grange University Hospital, a critical care hospital opened in November 2020 in Llanfrechfa, Gwent, South Wales. People, as performers and as audience, were at the centre of her thinking. Whereas for most projects the likely audience is known beforehand, this project’s ‘audience’ is Everyone, and s/he will bring a range of strong emotions. ‘Audience’ as usually considered could not exist, but ‘Listener’s’ needs had to be central. Performers had to bear this in mind throughout.
Empathic musicians were needed, volunteers who understood how their music could reach out and would be willing to improvise rather than read a written score. In many languages the words for spirit and breath are one and the same (Sanskrit prana, Hebrew ruach, Greek pneuma, Latin spiritus), so Leona concentrated on instruments that use breath. She also made recordings in the Gwent Wetlands, an environment where wind almost continually plays the trees, rushes and waves around the estuarine landscape.
As the actual multi-faith space for the project was still being built when the project was underway, Leona arranged a visit to a sister chapel at the Royal Gwent Hospital and met the chaplains of ABUHB. This helped with imagining a response, and audio recordings were made of each of them reading a piece of writing that meant something to them. The diverse selections of poetry and prose, secular and religious, in English, Arabic and Bengali, were used as prompts when working with the musicians.
Although it was impossible for the group to meet physically and play together because of the pandemic, all the musicians embraced the project’s ethos. Everyone had to work alone apart from the group Zoom meetings arranged to help guide them through the process. The majority hadn’t improvised previously but went on to find the music within spoken word and environmental sounds. A beautiful range of improvisations resulted and were recorded, which Leona edited and mixed to create the soundscape - meditative, intimate, non-linear, able to be sustain fluctuating levels of a listener’s concentration.
The CoDI Grange Project was commissioned, funded and managed by Tŷ Cerdd, Studio Response and Aneurin Bevan University Health Board