FORECASTERS were predicting clement weather off the North East coast today – and that was music to the ears of Richard Hollinshead.
The producer of Foghorn Requiem has been masterminding what promises to be the noisiest highlight of The Festival of the North East.
It will involve a fleet of vessels offshore, massed brass bands and the foghorn of Souter Lighthouse at Whitburn, South Tyneside. Fifteen vessels will be equipped with horns pre-programmed to sound at certain times during the performance.
On land, bandmaster Steve Malcolm will conduct the massed Felling, Westoe and NASUWT Riverside bands and the foghorn will provide the shuddering bass notes.
Squally conditions, said Richard, could mean some of the smaller vessels wouldn’t be able to set sail.
A requiem for an outmoded maritime safety device – the foghorn having been largely replaced by satellite navigation – was dreamt up by artists Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway.
They commissioned composer Orlando Gough to write what must rank among the most unusual pieces of music ever performed in front of an audience.
The size of that audience will only become apparent just before the 50-minute performance which starts at 12.30pm today, with vessels assembling from 11am.
Richard, who works for Newcastle art production company Grit & Pearl, said: “We asked people what kind of crowd we could expect and they said about 5,000. But we thought it might be a bit bigger and be prepared for 10,000 people.”
A late rush from skippers and maritime organisations should see a fleet of more than 50 vessels assembling.