Premiere performance in the Peaks!

On the evening of Sunday 17th September, the Heights was alive with the sound of contemporary music with the world premiere performance of OCCAM River XV by Eliane Radigue, performed by London Contemporary Orchestra, DJ Lee Gamble [1] and curated by Shiva Feshareki.

This unique concert took place deep underground in the The Great Masson Cavern and was the first concert of its kind for the grand main chamber. Recorded to be played on BBC Radio 3 on 30th September[2], the sell-out concert attracted audiences from all over the UK, with coaches from London and Manchester travelling to Matlock Bath for the event.

Director, Rupert Pugh said ‘We were excited to be approached by the curator, Shiva and her team back in April who are supported by Arts Council England to hold a ‘concert in a cave’, we were delighted that they chose the Great Masson Cavern at the Heights of Abraham for the venue. It is the first contemporary concert to be held in the caverns so a piece of history for us.’

 The last concert on this scale at the Heights was in the 1840s in the Nestor Grotto of the Rutland Cavern, when the Heights was leased by Benjamin Bryant. The cavern was lit with 500 candles and a 10 piece orchestra played to the paying public at a cost of 1 shilling to enter. In contrast, this concert was lit by arrays of coloured LED lights emphasising the imposingly solid surroundings.

Overground and underground, the orchestra travelled to the venue in style! The violin, viola, cello, double bass, tuba and trumpets, all traversed the Derwent Valley by cable car, before descending, on foot, deep into the Derbyshire hillside.  It’s not every concert that is preceded by a briefing to the audience to mind their heads and their footing, as they burrow through limestone tunnels towards the venue!  After the concert guests enjoyed refreshments and a light meal in the Vista Restaurant and took in the breath-taking views of Matlock Bath and the Derbyshire hills beyond.

[1] Electronic producer, Lee Gamble, explored the unique environment by collaborating with soloists from the London Contemporary Orchestra; his first ever acoustic composition. The performance sets out to explore the dimensions of space and depth intrinsic to both Radigue and Gamble's work by experiencing it within a natural environment with powerful acoustic qualities.

[2] The performance is expected to be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 Hear and Now programme at 10pm on Saturday 30th September 2017.