The Mute Still Air by Ed Carter has been nominated for an Ivors Composer award in the category of sound art. It is a site-specific, sculptural sound installation and live performance involving electronically controlled fans, copper wind chimes and the Grimethorpe Colliery Band.
“We’re absolutely thrilled that Ed has been nominated for this award. It was a project that the band loved being a part of and demonstrates the kind of collaboration that will be at the centre of the band’s future commitment to commissioning works from the very best composers working today.”Richard Windle – Band Manager
“It was fantastic working with Grimethorpe Colliery Band on The Mute Still Air. They are such an extraordinary group of musicians, and their positive approach to the project made the whole experience an absolute pleasure.”Ed Carter
The piece reflects on the significance of social responsibility within a brutal commercial industry, taking inspiration from the cultural impact of Benjamin Biram’s pioneering engineering work at the Elsecar coal mine in South Yorkshire.
Biram introduced many safety improvements, including a new safety lamp, an anemometer to monitor airflow, and giant mechanical fans to ventilate the mines. The constant breeze from the fans reassured those working underground, mindful that it was providing fresh air and preventing the lethal build-up of explosive gases.
The Mute Still Air takes its name from a line in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “The Eolian Harp”, written the same year that Elsecar New Colliery was sunk (1795). The poem describes the sound of a wind harp, which is named after the Greek god Aeolus, who reputedly kept the wind in an underground cave.
‘O! the one Life within us and abroad,The Eolian Harp, Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1795)
Which meets all motion and becomes its soul,
A light in sound, a sound-like power in light,
Rhythm in all thought, and joyance everywhere—
Methinks, it should have been impossible
Not to love all things in a world so fill’d;
Where the breeze warbles, and the mute still air
Is Music slumbering on her instrument.’
It was Commissioned and produced by BEAM for the Wentworth & Elsecar Great Place project.