Hooorah! Foghorn Requiem has won the Arts Council of England Award at this years Journal Culture Awards.
The breeze rose and fell, wafting stalky grasses
Quietly but pointedly reminding the masses
That this event was weather-dependent
With wind and rain the superintendent
The grey skies cried briefly, but abating their sorrow
Held back their heaviest tears for the morrow
And deciding that the air should be no chiller
Relented and spared the exposed flotilla
Seats were unfolded and small tents erected
Dogs barked at the excitement detected
A fox, already frightened, scurried quickly away
Unsettled but unnoticed by the crowd of the day
Good friends met and cheerily greeted
Facebook messages were sent and tweets were tweeted
Then from the cliff edge the faint thrum arose
Of an assembled brass band blowing its nose
The hubbub of spectators was soon quelled
As the band struck up and trumpet blare swelled
Their proud notes drifitng eerily through the air
Lending sombre atmosphere to the whole affair
Then the first uncertain baritone note
Carried lonely from unspecified boat
Back to Souter lighthouse that historic morn
At last! the foghorn requiem is born!
On the grassy slopes we sat enthralled
As the horns blew and the seagulls called
Until with a heave, seemingly drawn from the past
The foghorn emitted a mighty final blast
Which reverberated across the land and sea
For what truly seemed an eternity
Then, like a dying man giving his last gasp
Let life gracefully slip from it's grasp
We've finally got around to posting a recording of the performance on the site - you can listen to it and download it from the "LISTEN" section of the website. Sorry it's taken so long to make this available - blame it on a combination of the post-show exhaustion and the complexity of piecing together a recording from such difficult source material. Geoff has done a heroic job with the edit. The file we currently have available from the site is rather low bit rate, which is simply due to limitations of the web site itself. We'll try to make a higher quality recording available later for the golden ears amongst you.
Sometime early in the new year we'll also be releasing the documentary from Amber Films. I've seen it, and it's great. We're currently working on showing the film first in a cinema in Newcastle - after that we'll make it available online for everyone.
We're too exhausted at the moment to properly thank everyone involved, hopefully we'll post something better over the next few days, but today we needed to at least mention our producer Richard Hollinshead, all the ships captains, the amazing Louise Holman and coast guard Greg Albrighton who controlled ships operations - and then especially Pete Evans, Alex Charrington, Martin Cottis, John Shearer and Dave the extraordinary magician from Midnight Electronics who all appeared from nowhere at the last minute and worked through the nights with us to make this work. Without their unbelievable generosity, skill, imagination, good humour and perseverance as we worked through the sleepless, scary final days and nights we frankly wouldn't have made it.
Lise and Josh
Alex Charrington and Martin Cottis tuning one of the last horns
The DFDS ferry, which will be using its own horns as well as carrying some of our largest tuned horns is only in dock every couple of days, so we're installing the Kockums horns today. We're going to be dropping off horns at various ships over the next week, and then on the morning of the show we will be running around like crazy people doing final tuning of the horns and installing the control boxes that will drive the ships horns.
It's a difficult balance - we want to have our horns distributed between as many ships as possible, but the more ships we have to deal with on the morning of the show the more crazy it's going to be. Every single horn will need to be re-tuned once it's in position, and all of the electronics, computers and air supplies have to be tested and set up - all in the space of a few hours.
An email that made my day:
"I am emailing on behalf of the Friars Goose Watersports Club. We are based on the Tyne in Felling, opposite St Peters Basin on the cheap side of the river. Friars Goose was a small shipyard for 200 years, bought out by worker when it closed in 1972. Original members still run the club, and we are proud to be one of the last remaining pieces of maritime heritage which is still operational in the North East. Many of our members vessels are older than Souter Lighthouse, most are made from bits of vessels that will have sailed past Souter Lighthouse in its early days of operations. The bell and a couple of brass fittings on my boat were taken from the boat recently scrapped in the picture below, taken last summer at Friars Goose, which still bore bullet holes from its job rescuing solders as part of the DDay landings. I was tasked to try and get involvement in the Foghorn Requiem and see if we can be part of a flotilla or better still, the concert itself. We have about 20 vessels, and would love to play out part in some way".
Here is the fantastic Mel Irving from the South Tyneside College Marine Simulation facility, where I have been plotting and simulating the positions of vessels taking part in the flotilla. This extraordinary facility has enabled us to test safety aspects of the proximity of vessels, different weather, wind and tide impacts and the overall impression of the whole flotilla. Tomorrow the captain of the DFDS Seaways vessel (pictured with a small Kockum Sonics horn) will be coming to the marine simulation facility to see the planned position of the Princess Seaways ferry
While testing on Sunday Richard Hollineshead spotted the DFDS Seaways Ferry doing a sail past and was quick to radio the captain, who honked his horns. They were sufficiently loud, especially since we installed extra Kockum Sonics Horns on the ferry a few weeks ago