Pedal-powered performance from composer Laura Bowler and the London Sinfonietta


An unexpected message in my inbox this morning drawing my attention to a new commission premiering at the Southbank Centre on 9th July from resident band London Sinfonietta.

Composer Laura Bowler (pictured) seeks to bring more attention to the ongoing climate crisis, bringing music and movement together in an inventive and thought-provoking piece: the entire performance and the resources needed to host it will be powered entirely by cyclists, on-stage with members of the London Sinfonietta. I hope to God they’ll make sure they’re oiled the chains beforehand.

Bowler’s new work work Houses Slide, describes one woman’s psychological journey to investigate her response to the climate emergency.

The concert is directed by the award-winning theatre director Katie Jane Mitchell OBE who will position 16 bicycles on stage with the players. It’s these bicycles that will power the production and the venue.

Bowler said of Houses Slide, “The climate crisis is the most urgent matter for the artistic community to address right now. The more ways we find to communicate the problem, the more likely people will become active in demanding governmental action and in turn global action. Houses Slide delves into the complexities at the heart of the climate crisis; climate psychology and
climate grief. How can we change our minds and the minds of others? How can we effect change?”

This video previewing her collaboration with Manchester Camerata a few years back helps provide some background on Bowler’s work. What I’m drawn to here are her values, particularly the importance she places on creativity based on authentic experience, and the need for the music experience to communicate.

“I don’t see any point in making art unless it communicates.”

composer laura bowler, 2018

Here in particular I’m excited by the way she creates soundscapes – audio renditions of the thoughts and feelings which arose as a result of that experience. In the case of Houses Slide, that makes the creative output something that will undoubtedly provoke thought and reflection.

Houses Slide with London Sinfonietta premieres at Royal Festival Hall on Friday 9 July.