Two hundred musicians from the Royal Northern College of Music treated visitors to the British Museum to a series of free performances of classics, rarities and a smattering of modern works as part of the Sound Histories event. The evening culminated in a premiere of Lebab for Massed Performers.

Royal Northern College of Music at #SoundHistories at the British Museum, London

There were moments wandering around the many exhibits when the varied concurrent performances created an eery atmosphere in what at times felt like a life-size film set. Ancient artefacts were brought to life with unusual solo lines floating through the museum’s interior, each making sense of the other in an instant.

Royal Northern College of Music play #SoundHistories at the British Museum

Ripples of applause far away in the distance signalled the end of each scheduled ‘set’. Never has unfamiliar music been so effortlessly made more accessible. One wonders why any of us bother with the concert hall at all.

Royal Northern College of Music at #SoundHistories at the British Museum, London

A particular treat was having the opportunity to wander freely in amongst sound bouncing off all the hard surfaces in the museum’s interior. Having the opportunity to wander around a trumpeter as he played a fiendish solo line made for an unusually immersive experience of the kind audiences don’t often get.

I shot some video on the hand-held whilst I was there and have included it below. My personal favourite was the solo trumpet piece, the music adding an extra dimension to the Eyptian artefacts on display. There’ll be some official footage (and additional shots) available from the Royal Northern College in the coming weeks.

UPDATE: Composer Steve Berry has published a live recording of the world premiere of Lebab for Massed Performers on his Soundcloud account. It’s embedded below.

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