Open Bridges – Moments in Time

We were delighted when BAFTA winning composer John Stead accepted our request to compose a new musical work as the culmination of Open Bridges to take place during the freedom season of Hull’s City of Culture year.

Composer John Stead, photograph by Graeme Oxby

The world premiere of John’s piece, Moments in Time was a wonderful, quite surreal experience.  The music, diffused in octophonic sound by eight loudspeakers swirled around the amphitheatre, filling the space and immersing the audience in sound, building from the delicate splashes of Tibetan bells to powerful wave like crescendos sweeping from one side of the space to the other. It was a fascinating experience to see the capacity crowd at the Stage@TheDock moving around the amphitheatre some people clearly listening intently to the music, absorbing every sound, others slowly moving their bodies in otherworldly dances. Unexpectedly – for me – as the sounds swelled to crashing waves and deep metallic bridge movements the crowd moved faster, and as the music diminished to exquisite tiny single bells the crowd slowed and stopped in their tracks. The whole experience was incredible, taking us on a journey from the countryside source of the River Hull to it’s industrial urban purpose to finally come full circle and set us down back in the fields – something we will never forget.

“A short time after I had been given this commission I was walking in the Wolds, listening to rooks calling and decided to record them. At that point I realised these sounds would begin this work – everything else followed…” John Stead 2017

John Stead Portrait by Graeme Oxby

Open Bridges Programme: Live diffusions by John Stead in octophonic sound

Moments in Time (2017) by John Stead -duration 20.17

Elementa (1998) by Jean-Claude Risset

Cycle du Son (1998) by Francis Dhomont

Here we are as the music began, photo by Graeme Oxby


Rich & Lou Duffy-Howard

Open Bridges is a whole tapestry of threads. It’s a celebration of the lifeblood of the city, the River Hull and its 13 movable bridges – more than any other city. Beautiful historic vessels representing three centuries – 18th century HMS Pickle, 19th century Humber Keel Comrade and 20th century MV Syntan mustered on the River Hull, met on the Humber by powerful 21st century tugs from SMS Towage and Svitzer. Open Bridges is an exploration of the notion of freedom during the City of Culture’s Freedom Season. The culmination of Open Bridges – the live world premiere of John Stead’s new musical work, Moments in Time was magical. And the city momentarily split in two – for the first time ever.

Open Bridges is an independent all Hull based project by Duffy-Howard Music taking place during the Hull City of Culture Freedom Season. We are delighted that every aspect of planning and delivery of Open Bridges is by people in Hull.

Visit our Open Bridges Website



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