What is Hadrian’s Wall of Sound?
On Friday 5th June we will be hosting the first ever BBC Music Day, when across the BBC on all our different platforms (radio, television and online) we are going to be celebrating the music that we offer our audience. I was very keen to do something based in the North East and it was while I was holidaying in Northumberland that I first had the idea. There is something really magical and timeless about Hadrian’s Wall and I realised that the spirit and essence of the wall was something that we could really celebrate through music. I thought that if we could run music right along the wall we could create a Hadrian’s Wall of Sound. So that is what we are going to do. On 5th June we start at 6am from Bowness-on-Solway and we’ll make our way along the wall. It’ll be a little bit like the Olympic torch relay. We’ll be doing music as we go, passing a baton between performers, but we’ll also be stopping at various point to hear a mixture of community groups and professional musicians. The plan is to get into Segedunum in Wallsend at 6.30pm in time to do Look North live from there that evening. It will be 73 miles and slightly less than 14 hours.
How will you travel along the wall?
It’s too far to walk, which is a shame because it is gorgeous up there. But that would have taken days and we just don’t have the time. So we’ve got various modes of transport, such as an open top bus, motorbikes, unicyclists, horses, tractors and trailers, vintage cars – the list goes on. Just as many ways as we could think of to get people moving along the wall, but they will be performing as they go. We found some fantastic cyclists who will sing as they ride. We also have a fell runner who will be wearing a wrist band covered in bells, so that he creates music as he runs. But the lovely thing about the open top bus is that we can have bands and singers up there. We want people who are passing by to be able to get a feel of what we’re doing.
Who will be performing on the day?
We have a number of fantastic performers. We’ll have Graeme Danby, the well-known opera singer from the North East, singing a big burst of Mozart up on Cawfields Crag. At Chesters Roman Fort we’ve got a blue glass band playing, which is not the kind of music you’d necessarily expect to hear on Hadrian’s Wall, but it’ll be fantastic amongst the arches. We’ve tried very hard to make sure that everyone can be involved. We’ve got a great ukulele band from Haltwhistle, folk groups that are based near the wall and we’ll be showcasing one of our BBC introducing bands (a scheme introduced by the BBC in 2007 to give air time to new and up-and-coming artists) in Cumbria. There are older and younger people performing in community groups, such as the Carlisle Community Choir. We’ve got groups like Prism Arts involved, which is a project for children with special needs, and they’re going to be making body percussion music at Birdoswald. Then a group of young rappers are going to lead us down Westgate Road in Newcastle.
So it’ll be showcasing Northern talent?
Yes. It’s a great opportunity for us to show off the music that is created here and all of the music that is made on or around the wall. I always feel that this is a part of the UK that doesn’t get much time in the spotlight, but it is a stunning beautiful part of the country. We were amazed by the number of people who wanted to get involved with the project. There is lots of great music going on. All of these different people and different music groups will come together to create a really special day of music.
Hadrian’s Wall of Sound
Friday 5th June