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See Manchester in a new light with this extraordinary new musical performance

Experience the cutting edge of classical music and interactive art with City of Floating Sounds, blending music, technology, and urban exploration
City of Floating Sounds

City of Floating Sounds is a unique and captivating event in Manchester that offers an extraordinary blend of classical music, technology, and urban exploration.

Ahead of the world premiere of City of Floating Sounds, composer Huang Ruo has swapped his New York studio for the home of the BBC Philharmonic in sunny Salford.

City of Floating Sounds

Ruo is widely recognised in the classical world as one of the most exciting young composers working today.

And he’s bringing a brand new concept to Manchester – The City of Floating Sounds.

This wonderful, unique event utilises cutting-edge creative technology to merge music with the urban landscape of Manchester.

Guided by a bespoke mobile app, audiences can explore the city while listening to fragments of Huang Ruo’s new symphony, making the experience highly interactive and engaging.

You can start your journey wherever works best for you, or join at one of the designated starting points.

As you walk through the streets, the music you hear will change and expand depending on your location and proximity to other audience members.

This creates a dynamic and evolving soundscape that transforms a typical concert into an immersive auditory adventure.

A world premiere of City of Floating Sounds at Factory International

After wandering the city painting your symphony, you will then travel to Factory International to hear a world premiere of the full score performed by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by Gemma New.

Artist and composer Huang Ruo is known for his distinctive sound that blends Chinese folk with Western avant-garde music.

No stranger to composing for urban landscapes, he created a site-specific audio work in Manchester Town Hall for Music for a Busy City at MIF17.

Why should you come and see the City of Floating Sounds?

The event encourages you to see Manchester in a new light.

The path you take and the people you meet can alter your experience, making each attendee’s journey unique.

This promotes a sense of connection with both the city and fellow audience members.

Huang Ruo explained the concept behind The City of Floating Sounds:

“The first part is the outdoor experience, where each person carries a mobile phone playing different instrumental tracks. These can stretch, contract, and interact, becoming more colourful through people’s interactions.

“The second part of City of Floating Sounds is we invite everybody to Factory International, to the Aviva studio. The BBC Philharmonic will perform the entire work live, continuously, in the surrounding setting for the first time.

“Music should not be just a performance. We’re trying to create something different and unusual here.

“You want to get reactions out from the audience, but we just need to create the work and leave that to the public, to view, decide, to reflect.

“The goal is to connect, to let them feel something. As long as that can be achieved, I think that piece of art has its value.”

What inspired the City of Floating Sounds?

Huang Ruo’s creative process is deeply driven by curiosity and the desire to explore uncharted territories.

“Every piece of art, every work, always starts with, you ask a question, you are curious about something.

“That has been the continuous drive for me to create,” he reflected.

This journey of exploration and dreaming about the unthinkable is central to his artistic philosophy: “Dream about the unthinkable first. And then, even if you don’t achieve that in the end, you get closer to where you dream about.”

Reflecting on the pandemic, Huang Ruo shared: “During the pandemic, we had the virus, the ‘Chinese’ virus or ‘Wuhan’ virus, giving Asians and Asian Americans very terrible terms.

“And that creates a lot of discrimination. First time in my life, walking in New York City, a city I love so much, I felt I needed to hide so that I could continue to live my life.’

This adversity also inspired his creativity: “Yes, that is terrible, but that also served as an inspiration.”

Huang Ruo used his experiences during this difficult time to fuel his creativity.

“I wrote a piece called A Dust in Time, just for strings. It’s not for any groups or quartets, it’s just music for myself. And it helped me to get out of that darkness and hard time. And after that, I was able to write again.”

This personal journey underscores his belief that “it’s not about where you are, but about what you hear in your heart, in your ear.”

Another pivotal moment in Huang Ruo’s creative journey was his visit to the mountains of Guizhou Province, China.

“I took a trip, a journey to the mountain in China, Guizhou province, and I listened to the people singing. They have this traditional singing style, it’s a-cappella. Many people sing it’s called the grand song. So I listened to them singing and I don’t understand that language, but I could feel their emotion and feel their energy. It helped inspired me to write the City of Floating Sounds.

This experience profoundly impacted him: “After that trip, I was in a recording studio with my friend. I just randomly creating something. I improvised with my vocalisation. Again, it’s not the same as what I listened to, but was inspired by it.”

These experiences collectively shaped Huang Ruo’s distinctive voice and served as inspirations when writing City of Floating Sounds

City of Floating Sounds tickets

City of Floating Sounds invites you to open your senses and explore Manchester in a novel and enriching way.

What will you hear? Who might you meet?

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to connect with your surroundings and fellow attendees, and experience the cutting edge of classical music and interactive art.

On Friday 7 June, there is a post-show talk at 8.30 pm which is included with your ticket for that evening’s performance.

The panel brings together composer Huang Ruo, ECHOES Founder Josh Kopeček and Director of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra Adam Szabo, and is chaired by Factory International Creative Director Kee Hong Low with a Q&A afterwards.

City of Floating Sounds runs from June 6th to the 8th 2024.

To find out more about the City of Floating Sounds click here

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