Watch an exclusive clip of Richard Skelton & The Elysian Quartet recorded live at Faster Than Sound.
Faster Than Sound is Aldeburgh Music's series of experimental cross-artform collaborations which give artists the chance to develop work over the course of a week-long residency at Snape Maltings in Suffolk, culminating in a performance at the end of each week.
Richard Skelton composes work specific to geographic place, using local place names to create word poem threads for visual, text and musical pieces. His work is rarely performed live, but for Faster Than Sound, Skelton drew on the inspirational environment of Snape and its surrounding landscape to weave a new narrative, which was performed live by Skelton himself with The Elysian Quartet at Aldeburgh Music's Britten Studio on 21 March 2014.
In December 2013, Skelton visited Aldeburgh Music for the first time to develop his knowledge and feel for the place. The visit coincided with the worst tidal surge in 50 years, an event that left much of the surrounding countryside flooded, and gave him much to reflect on.
He currently lives not far from the Duddon Estuary in Cumbria, and his experiences of mountain becks and ghylls inspired his 2012 work Limnology, a musical composition and book containing poetic arrangements of over 1000 'water-words', beginning with the local dialect and taking on tributaries from Anglo-Saxon, Old Norse, Welsh, Manx, Gaelic and Irish.
For Faster Than Sound he incorporated East-Anglian water-words into a new work – part poetic text, part musical score – to be interpreted and performed at Snape by The Elysian Quartet. He also worked directly with the quartet to enable them to evolve a musical vocabulary engaging with the floral and avian life of the Alde Estuary, resulting in a piece which draws connecting threads between the earth-bound and air-borne. He also invited the quartet to respond to a series of drawings he made at Snape during the floods of December 2013.