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Access all Archives: Music in the Museums – Festival of Ideas 2011

Courtesy of Sarah Collins
Photograph Courtesy of Sarah Collins

In our most ambitious event to date, we took five of Cambridge University’s best museums, gathered a team over 120 performers, composers, engineers and stewards, put a unique musical event in each venue, then opened the doors to over 500 members of the public for just one night of new musical experiences.

    • Composer and Cambridge alumnus Joe Snape used an original text by Sarah McKee and the sounds of Scott’s fateful Antarctic expedition in an original sound installation for the Polar Museum.
    • Music students Lawrence Dunn and Oscar Dub took the mechanical sounds of the Whipple Museum’s modern replica of Richard of Wallingford’s 14th century astronomical clock as a starting point for their intricate installation of slowly unfolding processes.
    • Cambridge resident and longtime CaMEO friend Rob Campion brought his professional Southbank Gamelan Players to the Sedgewick Museum to respond to the earth and fossil tones of the galleries with their Javanese metallic, drum and vocal sounds.
    • Trumpeter and Cambridge alumnus James Brady brought together talented local musicians and students to perform music inspired by the skeletal exhibits of the Museum of Zoology, combining funk, jazz, rock, electronic, African and Latin-American influences in an improvised melting pot. DJ support was provided by local collective Curious Yellow Records.

Music students Joe Bates and Anthony Friend launched Filthy Lucre, their new venture in club/classical crossover, at the Fitzwilliam Museum with a live simulation of a drum machine and additional compositions from Toby Young and Stephen Craigen.


A brilliant, brilliant idea to get us all out into these fantastic museums and hearing some new music – the combination of experiences added more than either could have done alone!”

- Audience Member

This was a most exciting evening: a great success equally in terms of artistic quality and connection with a broad and diverse audience… I found myself seeing quite a lot of fascinating material I’d never seen before, and learning a lot in the process, and I was clearly not alone in this… a higher calibre than many installations I have experienced in some of London’s major galleries.”

- Lecturer in Music at the University of Cambridge.

Watching a jazz band in a Cambridge museum deliver a genuinely flipping amazing cover of The National Anthem. The Radiohead one.”

- Blogger, radio presenter and law student.

The young adult audience is one that museums often struggle to attract, and so to see the museums packed with young people was a real pleasure. Moreover, it was very noticeable that in each of the museums, they were really engaging with the objects on display as well as the music and the sound installations.”

- Dr Liz Hide, Museums Development Officer, University of Cambridge

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