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Permutations at RIBA North

Permutations is an interactive artwork and a synthesis of architecture and music which reinvents the rituals of classical performance. It invites listeners to participate in a new ritual, as they explore a new work of music through playing the acoustics of six adjustable chambers. Audience members can treat the space itself as a musical instrument: the listener performs their own experience.

Permutations is a new musical work by Freya Waley-Cohen, performed by Tamsin Waley-Cohen, and an architectural installation by Finbarr O’Dempsey and Andrew Skulina. It was created on an Open Space Residency at Aldeburgh Music because the artists wanted to create a way for listeners to involve themselves in harmony and counterpoint, whilst using the powerful relationship between architecture and music to give autonomy over the performance ritual to listeners. The performance and its architectural setting were developed simultaneously and in close collaboration, each acting as a muse for the other.

Permutations premiered at Aldeburgh Festival 2017, and has since been installed at the Dartington Festival and at the Royal Academy of Music. Permutations will be installed in the Winter Garden in collaboration with RIBA North for the month of May 2019.

The 18-minute composition is written for six recorded violin parts. The architectural setting is a set of six movable chambers, each of which houses one of the six violin parts. While adjusting the level of resonance in a chamber by rotating the doors, the listener can transform the level of acoustic enclosure, to single out one or two parts at any given time or to experience the full ensemble in counterpoint. Through interaction with the chambers, listeners will be able to explore the new work of music from the inside out. Each audience member can create their own ritual by the path they choose to take through the space.

RIBA North, Mann Island
10 am – 5pm
Tuesdays – Saturdays


On Light Night (17 May) it will be open for the duration of the evenings festivities.

This evening will include special live performances in response to the installation.