With Susan Philipsz's song cycle for the city of London, Surround Me, due to finish this weekend, I met up with some friends under London Bridge on what was one of the gloomiest, coldest new year mornings I remember.
We had plotted the route meticulously and were all anticipating a morning of aural stimulation in the near-deserted city streets. Unfortunately it didn't quite turn out that way. Only three of the six installations seemed to be working and we spent quite a lot of time hanging around waiting for the music to start only to eventually conclude that it wasn't going to.
I was particularly disappointed that the installation at Moorfields High Walk was not working; from the videos I've watched online it sounds like a particularly haunting song cycle. In the desolate and brutalist architecture of the square where the speakers are installed I imagine it would have been a rather uplifting experience.
I was also saddened that the work under London Bridge was not running, as I was looking forward to the combination of singing voices with the sound of water lapping at the embankment.
Luckily the work at Change Alley - Oysters - was working and it was thrilling to hear the beautiful melody echoing off the high buildings that surround this otherwise unremarkable alleyway.
I was interested in the contrast between the different locations that Susan Philipsz had chosen - from the courtyard in front of a 14th century church tower to an intersection in the heart of a modern development - all of them underlining the long history and constant evolution of the city of London. It was also a lovely excuse to explore the quiet city streets.
For an overview of the project and interview with Susan Philipsz, the video shown below is worth a look.
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