The Suffolk Symphony

Beginning on 16th August, 2009, Touch went on a week-long treasure hunt to unearth old records, field recordings, home-made sounds and images to help create the new Suffolk Symphony, culminating in its first performance on the 22nd August, 2009. Executive directed by Mike Harding with sound by Philip Jeck and BJNilsen and images by Jon Wozencroft, the whole week was documented by Philip Marshall.

You can read our daily updates below and see and hear our works-in-progress, including photography by Jon Wozencroft and audio from Jeck and Nilsen.

Touch would like to thank Jonathan Reekie plus Bella and all the team at Aldeburgh Music, and Joana Seguro from Faster Than Sound for all their hard work and assistance over the duration of our residency.

Faster Than Sound

Faster than Sound comes to the Snape Proms for more experiments in sound and image…

Inspired by the historic coastline of Aldeburgh and its surrounding area including Aldeburgh Music‘s Snape Proms, Touch will create a new audio-visual symphony from scratch, using only locally sourced sounds and images. Beginning on 16th August, 2009, they will go on a week-long treasure hunt to unearth old records, field recordings, home-made sounds and images to help create the new Suffolk Symphony, culminating in its first performance on the 22nd August, 2009.

Site Visit 18th May 2009

BJNilsen & Mike Harding, accompanied by curator Joana Seguro, visited Snape Maltings on a blustery, changeable day. Here you can see photos taken by Mike Harding and two recordings made by BJNilsen.

This recording was made near Snape Maltings, as bird song competed with the wind… Suffolk Wind [.wav]

and this was recorded on the train at Melton on the way home… Suffolk Train [.wav]

Day One | 17th August 2009

3 of the party arrived on Sunday 16th August, and met with John Aitchison, the wildlife photographer who works with Chris Watson.

At 5:05 am on Monday 17th August BJNilsen records the birdsong in Saxmundham. After moving to the accommodation for the week, Joana Seguro, from Faster Than Sound, took Mike Harding, Philip Jeck & Benny Nilsen to Snape Maltings. Setting up commenced at 11am. [See photos below] Philip Marshall & Jon Wozencroft arrived at 1pm.

Day Two | 18th August 2009

BJNilsen and Jon Wozencroft travelled to the Martello Tower. Jon commenced shooting footage for The Suffolk Symphony while Benny recorded the environment.

Above: adjacent to the Martello Tower, Aldeburgh.

Jon and Benny then visited Orford.

Meanwhile, at Snape Maltings, Philip Jeck began to assemble his audio source material

Mike Challis then led all five artists to Westleton, where Philip Jeck discovered vinyl potential: Johann Kuhnau’s “Biblical Sonatas Nos 1, 3 & 5” played by Colin Tilney on harpsichord. The back cover says “pressed in transparent vinyl for ease of inspection.” Possibly one of the first uses of non-black vinyl on a classical record…

Above: a dedication found in “Spiritual Intercourse”, on sale in Chapel Books, Westleton.

Finally, Jon, Mike, Philip and Benny travelled to Tunstall Wood.

Day Two | Jon Wozencroft | Martello Tower shoot

Day Two | Jon Wozencroft | Snape and Sudbourne

Above: The Crown & Castle, Orford.

Above: a derelict out-house, Sudbourne.

Day Two | Jon Wozencroft | Westleton

Above: Chapel Books, Westleton.

Day Two | Mike Harding | around Tunstall Wood

Day Two | Jon Wozencroft | around Tunstall Wood

Day Three | 19th August 2009

Entire party went to Dunwich, the disappearing village on the coast…

After filming and recording on the beach there, we stopped by the imposing Holy Trinity Church, Blythburgh.

In gorgeous weather, tinder-dry conditions, Sizewell B nuclear power station presented a weird backdrop to families frolicking in the surf…

Back at Snape later in the afternoon, recordings and images were downloaded, swapped, and in some cases uploaded… See the archive for audio works by BJNilsen and Philip Jeck.

Late afternoon, Jon Wozencroft travelled to Butley and Boyton.

After dinner, Wozencroft, Nilsen, Marshall and Harding took a night drive to Thorpeness, for a late night recording session. BJNilsen recorded the empty beach, while Jon Wozencroft experimented with night-vision shooting.

Day Three | Mike Harding and Philip Marshall | Sizewell Beach sequence

Day Three | Jon Wozencroft | Dunwich

Day Three | Jon Wozencroft | Holy Trinity Church, Blythburgh

Day Three | Jon Wozencroft | Sizewell Beach

Day Three | Jon Wozencroft | around Boyton & Butley

Above: St. John the Baptist Church, Butley.

Day Four | 20th August 2009

On the morning of Day Four of The Suffolk Symphony residency, the artists assembled at Snape Maltings, to commence the editing process. Philip Jeck and BJNilsen continued to experiment with the sounds they have unearthed. Jon Wozencroft commenced reviewing his video footage.

After lunch whilst Jeck and Nilsen rehearsed further Wozencroft, Harding and Marshall took a short afternoon break to Iken.

Day Four | Jon Wozencroft | near Snape and Saxmundham

Day Four | Jon Wozencroft | an afternoon break in Iken

Day Five | 21st August 2009

On the morning of day five, Jon Wozencroft continued to edit his DV footage. The other four travelled to Snape Maltings. Philip Jeck and BJNilsen started assembling an edit of rehearsal recordings, for broadcast on the evening of the 21st on BBC Radio 4’s PM show. Radio 4’s Nigel Wrench has written a entry about The Suffolk Symphony on PM’s blog at

The afternoon saw BJNilsen take his recording devices locally, around Snape [map]. Philip Jeck commenced archiving his rehearsal experiments in preparation for Saturday’s performance. Jon Wozencroft continued his video editing. Mike Harding and Philip Marshall liaised with Radio 4’s Nigel Wrench, regards the 5.20pm PM interview.

Jeck and Nilsen spent the mid-afternoon editing rehearsal recordings for an episode of TouchRadio – Click here to download a mp3 of their edit at

At 17h25, Mike Harding, Philip Jeck and Jonathan Reekie [CEO, Aldeburgh Music] were interviewed live on BBC Radio 4’s PM Show.

Day Five | Philip Jeck & BJNilsen | audio for BBC Radio 4’s PM Show

A short edit from the rehearsals for The Suffolk Symphony, created for use by BBC Radio 4, for an article on PM, 21st August 2009 [mp3].

Day Five | Philip Jeck & BJNilsen | TouchRadio 43

21.08.09 – Rehearsal Tapes – 16:44

Rehearsal tapes from The Suffolk Symphony – recorded and edited during the residency
(August 16th – 22nd).

On August 22nd 2009 Touch will present a multimedia performance of The Suffolk Symphony – the culmination of the week’s work undertaken during the residency.

Day Six | 22nd August 2009

Day Six began bright and chilly. It has been very hot this week – beautiful conditions which promise to continue into the weekend. Setting up began in The Britten Studio at 10am, with the arrival of the projector and other material. Various projectors and internet terminals were readied around the site.

At lunchtime, Sheikh Ahmed arrived to prepare for his intermission DJ sets. In the afternoon Jeck and Nilsen soundchecked.

A final audio/visual run-through is scheduled to commence at 5pm. The performance itself will start at 8pm. A programme for this evening’s performance can be downloaded here.

Many thanks for following our progress this week.