Landscapes (2014)

Landscapes is inspired by the art of the great nineteenth century landscape painter JMW Turner, and American abstract artist Helen Frankenthaler. Landscapes explore the influence of music and poetry in Turner and Frankenthaler’s work, their creative processes and themes of physical and emotional landscapes. It is a work in 4 parts, set for community choir, poet, piano, flute and sign language interpreter. 






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A primary aim for Landscapes was to explore how a musical composition might draw new audiences into Turner Contemporary, while also impacting upon how audiences experienced the visual art on display that inspired the piece. The project evaluation confirmed that 65% of audience members present had not attended Turner Contemporary before and that the choral work enhanced their experience of the art on display. The performance took place surrounded by the art that inspired the work, with audience members and performers viewing the art during the performance. Landscapes was performed by Thanet ‘Big Sing’ Community Choir, poet Sue Flory, flautist Sarah De Bats and sign language interpreter Bridget Bree.





16th April 2014 Premiere as part of Making Painting: The work of JMW Turner and Helen Frankenthaler by Thanet Big Sing Community Choir Turner Contemporary, Margate, Kent
5th December 2014 Thanet Big Sing Community Choir Annual Concert Queens Road Baptist Church, Broadstairs, Kent
16 April 2016 Turner Contemporary 5th Birthday celebrations performed by Thanet Big Sing Community Choir Turner Contemporary, Margate, Kent



‘I just had to say how amazing the performance was today. It was absolutely stunning and very emotional – it made me cry! Thank you for such a brilliant composition’ – Audience member 

‘Emily’s piece is challenging to perform, but beautiful to listen to. It starts quietly and repetitively, leading you on a journey that gradually builds, the music enhancing the words taken from Turner’s poetry. Turner used poetry alongside his paintings to bring out what he wanted to show to his audience. The music takes you a step further. The exhibition itself shows the development of styles from both Turner and Helen Frankenthaler as they moved further and further into the abstract, emphasising the feeling and emotion within their subjects, and the music really does seem to encapsulate this. As you listen to the music, you are lead on a journey through the exhibition, building to an emotional crescendo. How often is it that you get to be part of an original piece of work, conducted and directed by the composer herself, to be performed in the place housing the work that inspired it? Brilliant’ – Performer

‘I’m really enjoying participating in this new and innovative piece. I particularly enjoy the drama of the quiet sections building into the more dynamic and flamboyant passages. To me it captures the elements of nature and the sea that Turner was so gifted in portraying – the calm lapping waves in contrast to the stormy seas and skies he captured. Having viewed Turners work in the gallery feel that music really reflects the work on display. With the sound of the music, in my head I can enjoy the emotions I think the artists might have felt while executing their work. It’s always very excited to be involved in live music, and particularly so with a piece of newly commissioned and dynamic composition. Emily is a really gifted musician who makes the experience fun while stretching us at the same time’ – Performer



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Landscapes was commissioned by Sounds Like Art and funded by Arts Council England in partnership with Turner Contemporary.







One response to “Landscapes (2014)”

  1. […] excites me about the project so far is that during its first stage, the composition of new choral music inspired by JMW Turner and Helen Frankenthaler, I have discovered that JMW Turner was heavily inspired by both poetry and music. He held artistic […]

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