Souter Lighthouse to host 'Foghorn Requiem'

Souter Lighthouse Souter Lighthouse was decommissioned in 1988

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A Tyneside lighthouse is to take part in a unique musical performance, which will also feature land-based brass bands and an armada of ships.

Souter Lighthouse in South Shields will be the focal point of the Foghorn Requiem, to be performed in June.

Part of the Festival of the North East, the specially commissioned work is billed as the first musical score created for foghorns.

Pioneering technology will enable ship horns to be "conducted" from shore.

The work has been commissioned by South Tyneside Council and the National Trust, which took over the running of Souter following its decommissioning in 1988.

The requiem was devised by artists Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway, with the score written by British composer Orlando Gough.

'Armada of vessels'

A festival spokesman said: "Used for centuries to guide ships away from the rocks, foghorns across the country are gradually being decommissioned as vessels rely increasingly on satellite navigation systems.

"Now, the foghorn at Souter Lighthouse has been chosen to take the lead in the ambitious Foghorn Requiem, which will be performed at Souter on 22 June, with the backing of three North East brass bands and the ships horns of an armada of vessels positioned off-shore.

"The requiem is unique as it is not only the first musical score created for foghorns, but it will also use ground-breaking technology to conduct and control ships' horns from afar.

"Vessels at sea will sound their horns to a musical score that will take into account climatic conditions, the landscape and distance from the shore."

Opened in 1871, Souter was the first lighthouse in the world designed and built to be powered by electricity, with its foghorn kept in working condition by a dedicated team of local volunteers.

Alan Kerr, deputy leader of South Tyneside Council, added: "There is a strong seafaring culture in South Tyneside, which can be traced back to Roman times.

"The Souter foghorn has also been an important part of our history for more than 100 years and this ambitious project is a fitting tribute to it."

Most recently Orlando Gough wrote music for the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant.

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