Pylon Power – my new orchestral piece, Friston Moor
For several years, I have walked regularly in the area of farmland just north of the village of Friston, where we have our Suffolk home. It is a beautiful space, with wide skies, ever-changing crops, public footpaths, hedgerows and woodland, and it is right next to the fourteenth-century village church. Just as railway viaducts cross hillsides, the electricity pylons that traverse this landscape, on their way from Sizewell to Ipswich and beyond, give a sense of perspective and of hidden power which I once found rather pleasing and exciting.
But things have changed, and now the pylons feel menacing and frightening. There is currently a proposal from Scottish Power Renewables and National Grid to build three large substations on this site, covering over 35 acres, destroying footpaths, wild life, and the peaceful tranquillity of the village. These substations will, if built, convert the electricity that comes in from North Sea windfarms ready for onward transmission along the power cables. The windfarms are naturally a welcome and relatively carbon-free way of producing electricity, but the ecological aspect of this concept is completely wrecked by the proposal to rip up swathes of countryside all the way from the coast near Thorpeness to Friston (6 miles), laying underground cables in trenches 60 metres wide, right across an Area of Outstanding National Beauty. And Friston will be right next to a massive industrial complex which will overlook the whole village. Without going into details here, there are other ways of channelling wind-generated electricity to the community, but so far these have been overlooked in favour of this destructive proposal.
And whatever the outcome, the stress to local people is immense.
And this is only the start, as there are other proposals in the pipeline too…. For more information about this sorry story please visit www.sases.org.uk
So my orchestral piece, Friston Moor, is my personal response to this situation. My vision was a walk through the fields, accompanied by the birds, the animals scurrying in the undergrowth, the land and the sky, the hum of the pylons and the threat of what may be to come – and always there is the village church, very close to the affected area. It’s like a kind of dream as the different elements of the music overlap.
I hope that the music will stand up on its own: but in this YouTube film I have added visual images which give a picture of the landscape and, I hope, add to the dreamlike quality and the drama of the music. And you will see a landscape which, depending on the planner’s decisions, may never be the same again.
Although the piece is designed for symphony orchestra, and can be played ‘live’, the version that you hear is produced digitally using the NotePerformer software.
And for those who prefer just to listen, here’s a SoundCloud link.
If you would like to see the full score, follow this link