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Sage Gateshead Concourse to be transformed with sounds of the north during Great Exhibition of the North

Posted on 25 May 2018

Sage Gateshead is collaborating with Rotherham-based audio artist Mark Fell on a sound installation that will transform the venue’s concourse throughout the Great Exhibition of the North.

The installation, Protomusic#1, has been created as an orchestral digital score inspired by sounds of the North that were collected earlier in the year by the public using an app. The hundreds of sounds collected ranged from defining sounds of the regions, like cars passing over the Tyne Bridge, deeply personal sounds, including a man taking his daughter out for a walk for the first time, and completely unexpected sounds, for example chinchillas drinking out of a metal bowl.

With the help of orchestrator Sandro Mussida, Mark broke all the sounds down into individual elements using a computer, and then converted them to music, taking into account the rhythm and pitch of each sound.

The piece includes sounds from classical western music, but also incorporates folk instruments, north Indian folk and classical instrument, and even clogs. The combination of sounds is designed to demonstrate the eclectic process Mark and his collaborators have been through.

Mark Fell said: “My starting point was the space. The Concourse at Sage Gateshead is so large and open, it made me think ‘what sounds would fill this space?’ I had also read Notes on Blindness by John M Hull, in which a sociologist records his thoughts on going blind. He describes how the distributed sound of rainfall helped him to ‘see’, and this made me consider how people encounter sounds within their own space.

“We invited people to collect sounds using an app, then remade them as orchestral scores. It was amazing what people sent. We expected things like the roar of the crowd at St James’s Park or the bells at York Minster, but instead, we received some deeply personal and moving sounds. The public embraced the idea and turned it in to their North, rather than just the North.
“A couple of my favourite sounds were the sound of water, which we recreated by pouring water into a tenor horn while a musician played, and the Geordie accent, which we created using a violin. The lead violinist’s daughter was with us, and had the brilliant idea of putting on some clips of Byker Grove from the internet, so the violinist could capture the range of the accent.”

Abigail Pogson, Managing Director at Sage Gateshead, said: “We wanted to commission something for our amazing concourse – a great indoor town square. Mark’s idea really captured our attention as a new piece which is for a very specific location in NewcastleGateshead, but which draws on sounds and ideas from across the north and with input from lots of different people.
“We’re looking forward to the premiere of Mark’s piece on 22nd June and to welcoming people into our building over the summer to hear it.”

Protomusic#1 premieres on 22 June in the Concourse at Sage Gateshead, and will continue throughout the Great Exhibition of the North.

Notes to editors:
About Mark Fell:
Mark Fell is a prolific audio-visual artist who has been recording and performing since 1996. He has exhibited around the world at venues including Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Australian centre for moving image (Melbourne), Hong Kong National Film archive, Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (Karlsruhe) and Baltic 39 (Newcastle).
About Great Exhibition of the North 2018:
• In October 2016, NewcastleGateshead was selected to host Great Exhibition of the North; NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI) led the bid and is the lead delivery partner for the Exhibition, working closely with colleagues at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, BALTIC, Sage Gateshead, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and a board chaired by Sir Gary Verity.
• Towns and cities across the North of England are getting involved by being part of the ‘Inspired by’ programme of events, experiences and performances. People can submit details of their event at
• Great Exhibition of the North is encouraging schools to get involved, with content available on the website to both download teaching resources and upload their responses. Schools are able to do follow up work developed in the classroom by booking a tailored visit to the Exhibition during the final four weeks of the summer term.
• Great Exhibition of the North will provide a range of exciting volunteer opportunities for individuals, groups and businesses. A team of over 1,000 volunteers will welcome visitors to NewcastleGateshead, interpreting themes of exhibition, lead school groups and provide event support at special one-off occasions. Applications are now open, training will be 15 hours between February to June and each volunteer will need to commit to 40 hours from 22 June to 09 September 2018.
• On Tuesday 27 February the BBC announced a partnership to support Great Exhibition of the North.
• Great Exhibition of the North is supported by Premier Partners Virgin Trains and Accenture.
• Funding has also been secured via Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Innovate UK, VisitBritain, the Sir James Knott Trust and Reece Foundation and by England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.
• Womble Bond Dickinson, Ward Hadaway, Siemens, Port of Tyne and CISCO are proud partners of Great Exhibition of the North.
• Newcastle Airport, Greggs, Go North East, Tyne & Wear Metro and Northumbrian Water are supporting partners.
About Sage Gateshead:
Sage Gateshead is an international home for music and musical discovery located in the North East of England. It is for artists, for audiences, for the North and for the long term.
Its concert programme incorporates all kinds of local, regional and international music and runs all year round. Music-making and learning activity takes place not only in the building but across the region.
As a charity, the support it receives helps to ensure everyone in the community can experience the joys of music.