Himalayas to Ocean orchestra and electronics piece

An amazing project we’ve been involved in recently was a commission for our duo, Limpet Space Race, to write and perform a surround-sound, field recording and orchestral commission for the Orchestra of St John’s Ashmolean Proms. Sadly we were not permitted to record this particular performance but you can hear us testing out our surround-sound programme in the Ashmolean here.

Oxford orchestra, band and climate change documentary project collaborate on unique music performance

Oxford’s May Ashmolean Proms premiered a unique collaborative piece, commissioned from Oxford prog pop duo, Limpet Space Race, by The Orchestra of St John’s. The piece, ‘Earth Flow’, responds to the Himalayas to Ocean documentary expedition, an Oxford research project recounting stories of climate change along the Gandaki river in Nepal.

OSJ conductor Cayenna Ponchione speaks about the collaboration: ‘We’re very pleased to be commissioning this work from Limpet Space Race. The combination of their experimental, electronic approach, field recordings from the Himalayas to Ocean expedition and a live string orchestra is going to a truly unique and beautiful piece to experience’.

Limpet Space Race are Nicholas O’Brien and Hannah Jacobs, a duo who ‘mishmash pop, jazz, prog and electronics’ and are normally at work in the pop music scene, gigging, promoting and running a recording studio and label.

‘It’s an amazing opportunity, combining so many things we love. The Orchestra of St John’s are amazing musicians doing really innovative things, climate change has been at the heart of many of our past projects and we love experimenting with sound. Nicholas was also the sound recordist for the Himalayas to Ocean expedition, so it’s great to be able to incorporate his field recordings’ – Limpet Space Race.

The piece focuses on themes of erosion, landslides and change. In many places across Nepal, landslides are becoming more common to increased glacial melt and intense rains. This is predicted to worsen as the climate changes further. It will combine string orchestra with live sampling, electronics and expedition field recordings, performed through a series of surround-sound speakers via a programme built by Limpet Space Race.

The field recordings include sounds of wind, water, landslide and river were recorded in 5:1 surround by Nicholas O’Brien, in partnership with DPA and Bubblebee Industries. The piece will also be accompanied by photographs and research from the Himalayas To Ocean expedition.

“We hope the piece will encourage people to think about the connections between their lifestyles and the changing climate patterns affecting other communities. It is particularly timely given the recent declaration of ‘Climate Emergency’ from Oxford City Council, and the project gives some real-life context and stories to this crisis”. Alice Chautard