World Premiere Of Interactive Symphony to be Presented In Manchester This Summer

Performances will run 6 – 8 June.

By: Jun. 03, 2024
World Premiere Of Interactive Symphony to be Presented In Manchester This Summer
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City of Floating Sounds brings together Huang Ruo with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra for a unique concert that invites audiences to connect with their surroundings and each other in new ways. The work receives its world premiere this summer in Manchester (6-8 June) ahead of performances at New York's Lincoln Center (23 & 24 July), in a commission by Factory International.

Audience members will journey through Manchester, crossing paths to build up layers of sound played through their mobile phones culminating in hearing the full orchestra play digitally; the path taken and who is met on the journey can all change what audiences hear, meaning no two performances are the same. They then hear the new symphony composed by Huang Ruo performed live by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra at Aviva Studios, conducted by Gemma New.

A bespoke app developed by ECHOES is downloaded in advance and participants are each allocated one of 11 soundtracks from the symphony, recorded by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, which correspond to different groups of instruments in the orchestra. As the work starts, audience members set off from different places across Manchester and play their strand aloud through their mobile phone. City of Floating Sounds is for everyone in the city; the general public will hear the work and be surrounded by the sounds of the symphony as audience members walk past, meaning people across Manchester will naturally become part of the experience.

Audiences will be able to use the app to see where other participants across Manchester are listening, and as they start to cross paths the sounds will build to create a fuller ensemble. They will be guided through the city and offered different routes towards Factory International's home Aviva Studios, encountering more audience members along the way.

On arrival at Aviva Studios, audiences will enter The Warehouse to experience the full score performed live by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. The orchestra will be spread across the venue and surround the audience, who will be free to walk among the musicians.

Huang Ruo said:

“City of Floating Sounds is a symphony, a public performance art, an interactive live-installation, a relaxed walk in the city and a piece of music theatre involving and for the city and its people. Its hundreds of streams flowing into one river, while audiences journey towards Aviva Studios from different directions, the kinetic sonic fragments carried by them will eventually converge into a symphonic sea. This work breaks down barriers of performer and audience, stage and the four walls and brings awareness of the uncontrollable pacing of urbanisation and its consumption of nature."

Adam Szabo, Director of BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, said:

“It's been incredibly inspiring to work on City of Floating Sounds with a creative team who are so ready to embrace thrilling and ambitious ideas. Huang Ruo and Factory International are the perfect partners for this project, one that explores everything that classical music can be in this new world. This is symphonic music on a grand scale, epic and theatrical, for everyone.”

John McGrath, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Factory International, said:

Huang Ruo's City of Floating Sounds grows out of many years of conversations about our new space Aviva Studios and the role music can play in bringing a new place into being. Like much of Factory International's work, and like many of Huang Ruo's extraordinary projects, it is joyfully interdisciplinary, and grows from an intimate journey to an epic immersive experience. It has been a great pleasure to collaborate in this way with such a bold and talented composer.”

Composer and conceptual artist Huang Ruo is known for his distinctive sound that integrates both the Eastern and Western cultural elements through a technique he created called dimensionalism. He has previously created work for Factory International at the 2017 Manchester International Festival, with a site-specific piece inspired by the iconic bee mosaics within the neo-gothic Town Hall.

City of Floating Sounds is produced by Factory International and is a co-commission with National Taichung Theater, Taiwan and Lincoln Center, New York. It will be performed by the Festival Orchestra of Lincoln Center, conducted by Jonathon Heyward on 23 & 24 July as part of their Summer for the City festival.


6 – 8 June, 6.30pm (40 min journey / 40 min performance at Aviva Studios)

Aviva Studios, home of Factory International

Water Street, Manchester, M3 4JQ

Tickets £15. A limited number of concession tickets including Aviva £10 tickets are available.


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