A LIGHTHOUSE in the North East is to provide the backdrop for a musical global-first in celebration of the foghorn.
Used for centuries to guide ships away from the rocks, foghorns across the country are gradually being decommissioned as vessels rely more on satellite navigation.
Now, Souter Lighthouse at South Shields – the world’s first to be powered by electricity – has been chosen to take the lead in an ambitious, specially-composed Foghorn Requiem.
The piece will be performed at Souter on Saturday, June 22, with the backing of three North East brass bands and the ships’ horns of an armada of vessels positioned offshore.
The Foghorn Requiem is unique as it is not only the first musical score created for foghorns, but it will also use pioneering 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. The event will run from noon-2pm.
Coun Alan Kerr, Deputy Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: “There is a strong seafaring culture in South Tyneside which can be traced back to Roman times.
“Souter Point 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.”
He added: “Foghorn Requiem will commemorate our great maritime past and we are proud to be part of it.”
Foghorn Requiem is a project by artists Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway.
The musical score has been written by celebrated British composer, Orlando Gough, who will be joining the artists at the official launch of the project at Souter on Monday.
Vessels of all shapes and sizes from across the UK are expected in the North Sea, off the coast at South Shields, for the event in June.
It is expected to be the highlight of a month-long Festival of the North East initiated by musician Kathryn Tickell to celebrate and raise awareness of the social and cultural heritage of the region.
The Foghorn Requiem, which is a key project within the festival, has been commissioned by South Tyneside Council and the National Trust, which took over the running of Souter following its decommissioning in 1988.
The project has secured funding from Arts Council England, Danish Arts Council and the Festival of the North East.
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.
:: Further information about the Foghorn Requiem can be found at www.foghornrequiem.org