Birmingham & Black Country

Library of Birmingham: Public invited to noisy opening

Stan's Cafe and Sam Underwood
Image caption Stan's cafe and MortonUnderwood are among the artists that will bring 'vibrancy' to the library

Staff have moved into Birmingham's new £190m library and are preparing for its opening in September.

The new library in Centenary Square will replace the city's 1970s Central Library building.

This was condemned for closure over a decade ago when councillors identified "major problems" with its structure.

A series of events will open the new library, including a huge public brass band, sports-style commentators broadcasting live and a story arcade.

Room for noise

From September, in an indoor pavilion specially created by artist Morag Myerscough, visitors will be invited to take part in activities with 15 different artists and groups over four months.

The programme for the £190m library starts with a "musical extravaganza" to dispel any public fears that libraries are quiet or unwelcoming.

Sara Rowell, from the library, said: " We want to get over the notion that libraries are quiet places where you'll be shushed if you raise your voice.

"Obviously there are plenty of places to study quietly and concentrate but there's also room for activity, noise, joining-in and getting together with friends."

Anyone in Birmingham who can hold a tune on a brass instrument is invited to take part in the opening on 3 September, alongside musicians from the CBSO, Conservatoire and Brass Band of Birmingham.

Image caption The pavilion will have vibrant shapes and words above its open roof

It is hoped 150 musicians will flood the open spaces of the library with sound under the direction of Australian artists Super Critical Mass.

'Cult listening'

At the same time, Birmingham artists Stan's Cafe will be acting as The Commentators, broadcasting live internet commentary on the "excitement" and the "mundane" of the library's opening week.

"We're going to approach everything like it's a sporting event and get phenomenally excited.

"We want to get into the furthest corners of the library for details like what visitors have got in their sandwiches", they said.

The Commentators believe everyday details, when recalled as live theatre, become "cult listening".

The programme's noise theme will continue when MortonUnderwood take over the pavilion to make a "sonic trolley" that visitors can make music with.

Image caption The opening season runs from 3 September to 31 December 2013

Sam Underwood explained designs can be created on the floor with shapes, colours and reflective materials, for the trolley to ride over and translate into sound.

He said: "There's going to be strange acoustic in the space so really fun to play with."

Lisa Meyer, one of the curators, said not everything in the Capsule programme is about sound.

She said: "The programme is really varied and the pavilion itself is a billboard for the library, a statement of intent that says this is a welcoming, free cultural space.

"It's aspirational, challenging and a celebration of Birmingham."

The opening season of art events at the library runs from 3 September to 31 December 2013.

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