On 21 July 2012, 800 people witnessed over 100 young people perform A Sign in Space, a world premiere and culmination of Sounding the Sacred, a project produced by The Forge in association with Durham Cathedral, funded by Youth Music and supported by Durham County Council, BRASS: Durham International Festival 2012 and bhp law.
In a project developed by The Forge, composer John Kefala-Kerr worked with young people from across County Durham to develop a sound opera exploring sacred spaces which combined live instrumental and choral music with digital sound. More than 100 young performers, choristers, a harpist, organist, violinist and a talented brass section took over Durham Cathedral to perform the world premiere of A Sign in Space.
The performance featured young people from Durham County’s Youth Big Band and Youth Choir, Durham Cathedral Young Singers, Tudhoe Grange School and choristers from the Cathedral.
”The Forge exists to create opportunities for children and young people to make great art.” said Tony Harrington, Executive Director of The Forge. “ We’ve brought together over 100 children and young people and professional musicians to explore their sacred spaces through music. We were thrilled to be working in partnership with the team at the Durham Cathedral, itself an iconic sacred space in the heart of Durham to perform this brand new music composition.”
“Creating a new piece for an iconic space like Durham Cathedral has been an exciting and absorbing experience for me.” said Composer John Kefala-Kerr. “The intelligence, energy and commitment of the young people involved in its creation has been inspirational.”
“I really enjoyed the opera, never experienced anything like it before, it developed beautifully with some lovely pieces especially from the school children and the brass band.“ Pat Whittaker, audience member
“A Sign in Space was magnificent and [I] was most impressed by the professionalism and standard of performance delivered by the young people involved and by the quality of the partnership work with the Cathedral.” Sally Dixon, Team Manager, Arts, Durham County Council
“ [I] just wanted to say how much I enjoyed helping out over the weekend and the event itself. I hope you’re all very proud of a job excellently done. “ Sue Archbold, Front of House and Production Volunteer
Thank you for having the passion for young musician’s development, and the vision to commission such a work which has pushed the musical boundaries and in some cases musical comfort zones for both performers and listeners. The work challenged all students’ right up to the final performances where students were passionate to achieve their best levels of performance. Adrian Biddulph, Manager of Music Education
“I loved and was enraptured by “A Sign in Space”. I have been talking about it nonstop! It was wonderful on so many levels and I was particularly impressed by the community of performers who were gathered together to make such a unique and compelling performance, Paula Turner, audience member
“The children loved taking part- and their parents were bowled over by the performance. We do so many ‘standard concerts’ that it is a pleasure to do something with an element of theatre about it, an extra element that gets participants and audience thinking.” Mish Kelly, Director of Music Outreach, Durham Cathedral