Sound Histories: An evening of live music for the British Museum Collection

On Friday 5 July, as the RNCM celebrates the end of its 40th anniversary year, over 200 students will travel to London for Sound Histories: An evening of live music for the British Museum Collection.

Inspired by the objects and galleries of the Museum and featuring approximately 120 scores, including 60 world premières by student composers, Sound Histories is free to the public and marks the latest in a series of large-scale projects produced by the RNCM. Previously, students have performed at Manchester’s Victoria Baths, Piccadilly Train Station, the Whitworth Art Gallery and Imperial War Museum North. For this unique event, which takes place between 6pm and 9pm, young musicians will take over the ground floor of the iconic London landmark, allowing the public to create its own musical journey through almost two million years of human history.

Toby Smith, the RNCM’s Director of Performance and Programming, said: ‘From Ancient Egyptian sarcophagi to broken pottery found on a Tanzanian beach, I've long imagined what the objects of the British Museum Collection might say through music; and so, over one unique evening, Sound Histories attempts to tell these stories, a production conceived on a grand scale to animate our shared human history.’

The pieces chosen for Sound Histories span over 600 years, from the 14th century to the present day, and animate collections from Ancient Egypt, Assyria, Ancient Greece, Africa, North America, Mexico, China and South Asia. Highlights include music from the early 19th century (including works by Handel, Mozart, Beethoven and Mendelssohn) in the Enlightenment Gallery, reflecting the music familiar to the Museum’s founders at the time the room was completed in 1828; music for the Parthenon Gallery that tells the stories of the complex history of the Parthenon, built nearly 2500 years ago as a temple to the goddess Athena; and a large-scale performance in the Great Court featuring all 200 musicians directed by double bassist and composer Steve Berry.

Sound Histories takes place at the British Museum, London, on Friday 5 July between 6pm and 9pm. Admission is free. 

16 May 2013