Enharmonic is a multimodal project consisting of a musical composition, sound installation and publication, ending with a performance on the closing night. It was commissioned by ArtReach for Journeys Festival International Leicester, a citywide annual arts festival which curates and develops a varied programme of work about the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers.
The score for Enharmonic was written collaboratively between Miriam Bean and her mother, composer Alison Bean, between May and August 2019. Musical material was developed from motifs in the Lebanese song ‘Atouna El Toufoule‘ or ‘Give Us Childhood‘, (originally by Remi Bendali in 1984). The work was influenced by this song after hearing a 10 year old refugee called Hamza sing it – showing what the music means to him and how he feels about his country.
Working with the musician Josh Semans, the composers were able to reimagine vocal melodies for the ondes Martenot. Despite being electronic, this rare monophonic instrument is extremely versatile and dynamic, capable of different tones and methods of playing, allowing the player be expressive and interpret the music in their own way.
During the research stage of Enharmonic, processes of making and recording sound took place within All Saints’ Church – exploring its acoustic potential as well as utilising historic features and medieval documents within it. Throughout the project Miriam worked with local refugee and asylum seeker groups, introducing them to ways of translating their stories into music and reflecting upon whether people from different countries, who speak different languages, listen and respond to sound in different ways.
Ondes Martenot // Josh Semans
Piano // Anne de Villiers
Viola // Elizabeth Paling
Cello // John Bean
Double Bass // Alison Bean
Conductor // Willard Welsford
Videography // Crosscut Media