XX Scharnhorst

scharnhorst1_570

Date: 2012

Client: Home Live Art / The Mayor’s Thames Festival

Location: HMS Belfast, River Thames, London

‘Not many musicians have the idea of turning an old warship into a giant percussion instrument and Orlando Gough’s …. one of the most inventive and spectacular composers out there’ Louise Gray, writer and critic.

 Orlando Gough’s piece, specially commissioned for the Thames Festival, saw HMS Belfast used as a giant percussion instrument, with 15 young male percussionists playing rhythms based on the last Morse Code transmission from the Scharnhorst, accompanied by 90 singers (a German choir, and an English / Russian women’s choir).

Responding to HMS Belfast’s monumental and haunting history, the piece is inspired by the WW2 Battle of North Cape, which took place in the icy waters of the Arctic on Boxing Day, 1943, when the German battle cruiser Scharnhorst, sent to attack convoys as they passed the northern tip of Norway, was sunk by Royal Navy warships including HMS Belfast. Only 26 members of the 1,968 crew survived.  Exploring themes of mothers and sons through lullabies and laments from the women’s Choir to depictions by the young percussionists of bravery and the hell of battle. The audience watched the event from Thames riverbank.


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