Beyond the Deepening Shadow: The Tower Remembers
The Tower of London
4 – 11 November 2018, 17:00-21:00
Book tickets here:Historic Royal Palaces
As the nation commemorates the centenary of the end of the First World War, a new installation at the Tower of London, Beyond the Deepening Shadow: The Tower Remembers will fill the moat with thousands of individual flames: a public act of remembrance for the lives of the fallen, honouring their sacrifice. This new artistic tribute will run for eight nights, leading up to and including Armistice Day 2018.
Mira Calix has been specially commissioned by the Historic Royal Palaces to create a sound installation to accompany the visual spectacle designed by Tom Piper that will illuminate the Tower’s moat.
Calix’s installation, is a sonic exploration of the shifting tide of political friendships. Friendship circles are formed around common ground and shared interests. Over time, these clusters expand, contract and shift. Alliances in their very nature are segmented, and within unity there is always division. When those divisions become fractious, we find that we are simultaneously united in loss.
Historians have debated the importance of the alliance system as one of the primary causes of wars. WW1 initially involved two opposing coalitions: the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary) and the Triple Entente (United Kingdom, France, Russia). Both groups expanded during the course of the war to include others. Italy, uniquely shifted its allegiance from the former to later, a testament to the ever-changing landscape of political allegiances.
Calix will create an intimate and sensory promenade piece, which transforms the moat into a participatory sound installation. At the centre of the installation lies a new choral work composed to reflect unity and division. A choral work that speaks to the themes of friendship and loss in its composition, by unifying in the choruses, and fragmenting in the versus. The score includes the mother tongues of the aforementioned WW1 alliances, offering a holistic view of those divided allegiances. Calix will utilise movement, texture, and tonality to fill the moat with a musical experience that works in both time and space. Like the burning flames, the sound work is ephemeral and episodic.
“I see the song as something you walk through. It’s sound as sculpture, assembling as you explore the fire-lit path. I want to echo the visual, the haze, by creating a musical foundation, a harmonic hum that resonates between the defensive walls of the Tower. Above this sits the voices, they weave through the moat, suspended and shifting through the November air.”
In seeking out a prose (lyrics) for her composition, Calix selected a text by Mary Borden, with whose work she was already familiar. Calix alighted on a particular poem from of a collection of intimate and personal sonnets, titled ‘Sonnets to a Soldier’. Directed at an unnamed soldier, the poem possesses a universality that transcends its romantic nature to that of wider reflection on loss, encapsulating friendship, light, courage, and loss. Calix was drawn not only to the sheer power and beauty of Borden’s words, but also to the happenstance of the poem’s ability to communicate so concisely and evocatively, her own thinking, inspiration and themes.
In creating the new sound installation, Calix has worked with several of her past collaborators. Longstanding collaborator Soundintermedia, Solomon’s Knot, on a commission for Aldeburgh Festival, and Conductor Esmeralda Conde Ruiz, who she first worked with at Shakespeare’s Globe. For the first time, Calix has also worked with performer and composer Laura Cannell, whose work she has long been a great admirer of.
Commissioned and produced by Historic Royal Palaces, this new light and sound installation brings together a talented creative team, including Designer Tom Piper, Sound Artist Mira Calix, Lighting Designer Phil Supple, fire expert Mike Jones, Movement Director Anna Morrissey and Creative Director Deborah Shaw.
Tower Of London
photo credit Historic Royal Palaces
The torch lighting event for remembrance day at the Tower of London, 11 November 2018