Sensing Nature

An arts organisation is set to explore the sound of nature with a bespoke outdoor sound trail.

Waveney & Blyth Arts’ new event will delve into the nature of sound and sound in nature, with outdoor musical performances this summer.

The Sensing Nature performances, at Thornham Walks, near Eye, will take place in June and July.

Sensing Nature

Audiences will be invited to experience the woods in a new way by focusing on sounds – natural, composed and improvised – on the trail, which has been created by, and will be performed by, 30 musicians recruited from Norfolk and Suffolk – most of whom are blind or visually impaired.

The group, led by members of London-based Tactile Ensemble, hope to inspire people to become more sound aware through instrumental and vocal performances on the trail.

Nicky Stainton from Waveney & Blyth Arts said: “We are very excited about the Sensing Nature outdoor promenade performances which will be the culmination of three months of workshops and rehearsals.

“We believe that this new live, aural experience, created jointly by professional and amateur visually impaired musicians, is ground-breaking.

“For each of the four performances the audience will gather near the Walled Garden and will be lead along wheelchair-friendly paths through the peaceful setting of Thornham Woods. They will walk in silence from location to location to listen to the newly-composed music mingling with real sounds of nature.

“To fully enter into the experience we will encourage sighted members of the audience to wear blindfolds.”

Thornham Woods contains a Victorian Gothic folly as well as a variety of deciduous and evergreen trees and habitats providing shelter for a range of wild animals and birds, all of which will be incorporated into the trail.

The project’s patron, researcher and broadcaster Tom Shakespeare, said: “This is a fantastic, innovative project, and I am so excited that everyone will now have the opportunity to participate and experience nature in new ways.”

Sensing Nature is being led by composers Jackie Walduck and Adrian Lee, who jointly set up London-based Tactile, half of whose members are visually impaired.

Adrian has written music for all the UK’s main broadcasters, as well as theatre companies such as the National Theatre, and Jackie’s film score for ‘The Dress’ was premiered at the Cannes film festival.

Tactile Ensemble, which performs concerts in the dark and uses tactile rather than written scores, has been commissioned by Waveney & Blyth Arts to create the new compositions and lead the Sensing Nature project.

Jan Dungey, co-project manager, said: “Local animals, birds, insects and other creatures make the most extraordinary sounds – from barking foxes, to melodic nightingales, to chirping crickets.

“The sounds that local wildlife make have inspired the new music, created by Adrian and Jackie, for Waveney and Blyth Arts.

“As they both have international reputations we are incredibly excited that they are working with visually impaired singers and musicians from Norfolk and Suffolk.”

The sound trail, at Thornham Walks, a beautiful area of woodland, near Eye in Suffolk, is wheelchair accessible, with most of the trail taking place on tarmacked walkways.

Waveney & Blyth Arts, based in the Waveney and Blyth valleys, has secured a grant from Arts Council England to deliver the project and are working in association with Norfolk & Norwich Association for the Blind.

Performances will take place on Friday 30 June at 5pm and on Saturday 1 July at 12noon, 2.30pm and 4.30pm. Tickets are, Adults £9, Visually Impaired People £7 (guides free), W&BA Members £8, Under 18s Free

To order tickets please email [email protected] or call 07415 168806.

Waveney and Blyth Arts Jackie Walduck Tactile Credit Nicky Stainton


Thornham Woods

Thornham Woods are part of the Thornham Estate which has belonged to the Henniker-Major family for over 200 years, and who still live at Thornham Hall.

About Waveney & Blyth Arts

This event is supported by Arts Council England and is part of Waveney & Blyth Arts’ CELEBRATE THE WAVENEY & BLYTH 2017 programme – highlighting the unique character and creativity of the Norfolk/Suffolk border from July to September 2017.

About Adrian Lee

Adrian Lee is a composer, creative arts facilitator and multi-instrumentalist. His output includes numerous scores for theatre, TV, radio, film, dance and music theatre, including the UK’s principal broadcasters and theatre companies including several for the Royal National Theatre. He was part of Paraorchestra who played at the London Olympics.

He composed and produced music for Channel 4’s film adaption, Macbeth and has undertaken numerous nature documentary soundtracks for the BBC’s Natural World, NatGeo and Animal Planet. His compositions for gamelan have been performed in a range of concert venues in the UK, Europe and South-East Asia, including the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.

About Jackie Walduck

Jackie is a composer and vibraphone player and Artistic Director of Tactile. She works with classical, contemporary and jazz musicians from beginner to professional, and collaborates with dancers, artists and film-makers to create new work. In 1998, City University awarded her a PhD in collaborative composition. She was invited by the British Council to work in Oman in 2001-3 and her film score for The Dress was premiered at Cannes in 2007.

As Wigmore Hall’s Learning Ensemble in Residence, her band, Ignite, engages people of all ages from the community with chamber music making.

About Project patron Tom Shakespeare

Researcher and broadcaster Tom Shakespeare, is the Project Patron for Sensing Nature because it removes barriers to appreciating nature and exploring the role of sounds in our lives.