Sewing machine orchestra for Derry's culture celebrations

Sewing machine orchestra
Image caption A stitch in time makes music with the sewing machine orchestra

A Canadian composer is set to conduct an 'orchestra' of sewing machines for a special performance in Londonderry.

Martin Messier will take to the stage in a former shirt factory, accompanied by eight sewing machines, as part of the UK City of Culture celebrations.

Mr Messier specialises in redefining the "frontiers of concrete music by creating sounds with everyday life objects", accord his website.

It is one of hundreds of events planned for Derry's Music City day on Friday.

'Industrial music'

The composer spends a lot of his time tuning up clapped out old Singers, but there is no intention to leave the audience in stitches.

Instead, his aim is to give everyday objects a voice by "reinventing their function".

Mr Messier told the BBC's Arts Extra programme he made "industrial music" from the rhythms produced by the sewing machines.

He said he got the inspiration for his unusual performance after seeing an old sewing machine in an antique shop.

He said he "fell in love" with the object because it was unfamiliar to him.

"I never had a grandmother or grandfather sewing at home," he added.

"I had this idea of, at first, doing a performance with one just machine and after that it became obvious that I had to do it with more machines."

The conductor controls the sewing machines manually but there is also computer input in producing the sounds. Lighting is also a feature of the performance.

'Dreamlike universe'

Mr Messier's website states that he does not sew, but "resuscitates old Singers put asleep years ago in order to release, in some magical ways, the luminous and sonorous presence of the past".

"He carries his public in a dreamlike universe where each machine, as singular subject, is magnified.

"After years of silence, Sewing Machine Orchestra is giving speech to these surviving objects of the industrial era," the website adds.

The composer, from Quebec, has previously performed with his makeshift orchestra in Canada, France, Belgium, Sweden and the Netherlands.

The Derry event takes place as part of The Shirt Factory art project, that draws on the city's "proud heritage as the one-time shirt-making capital of the world".

Balloon orchestra

Music City is a day-long celebration of music and culture that will include highlights such as the "biggest ever performance" of the song, Danny Boy, and another unusual orchestra, one made up of hot air balloons.

The seven hot air balloons will each be equipped with their own sound system and will take off across the city from 06:30 BST on Friday, "prepared to give the residents below an experience like no other".

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