The Sky Untuned © Laura Cannell

Commissions / Music

The Untuning of the Sky

October 2018

Developed over a nine-month period at the National Centre of Early Music, The Untuning of the Sky premiered at the inaugural York Mediale 2018. Staged over two evenings, the project saw contemporary composers Laura Cannell and Jonathan Hering collaborate with artist, illustrator and filmmaker Laura Spark to create two brand new audio-visual pieces that transcended the ancient and the modern to create works of timeless beauty.

Laura Cannell on double recorder for The Untuning of the Sky © York Mediale
Laura Cannell on double recorder for The Untuning of the Sky © York Mediale
Laura Cannell on violin for The Untuning of the Sky © York Mediale

Part One, with Laura Cannell and Laura Spark, was inspired by the ancient astrological idea of the Music of the Spheres – that the revolution of the planets generates a celestial harmony of profound and transcendent beauty which mortals cannot hear, Laura Cannell drew on fragments of medieval and renaissance music, then discarded and re-imagined into new works for recorder and violin. Accompanied by oscillating electronics, by guest André Bosman, the music and visuals fell in and out of balance, exploring the spaces between harmony and discord.

Part Two, with Jonathan Hering and Laura Spark, presented musical and visual interpretations of renaissance polyphony, one of the defining features of Renaissance music. Using 21st century technology and his bass to counter-tenor range to sing multi-layered choral music from the 14th – 17th Century, Jonathan Hering presented in 8-channel surround sound. Spark’s projection and animation illuminate the music, building layers of colour, light and imagery to illustrate the ever-expanding layers of voice and harmony. Sound and vision combine to produce a stunning, immersive experience.

Fascinating and involving…Her continuing creativity shines through, and she continues to deliver outstandingly fresh and essential recordings that speak to us from a thousand years ago.

The Quietus

on Laura Cannell's latest album The Sky Untuned

With thanks

The Untuning of the Sky was made possible with financial support from The National Centre for Early Music and supported by PRS Foundation’s The Open Fund.