There is something splendidly evocative in exploring the length of a beautiful valley while listening to superb music that links with the sights before your eyes as they change with the seasons.
This concept was brought to life by Lewes-based Ed Hughes and Eastbourne-based filmmaker Cesca Eaton who combined their talents to create a stunning artistic statement.
The result of their efforts was an innovative and highly-acclaimed 30-minute film with orchestral score, commissioned, premiered and recorded live at the Brighton Festival in 2018, tracing the changing moods of the River Cuckmere from its source in the High Weald to the sea at Cuckmere Haven.
Now it is enjoying a new incarnation, as a remarkable experience that can be shared with visitors, thanks to an App entitled Cuckmere: A Portrait on the Echoes.
The free App uses GPS to trigger extracts from Ed’s wonderful, constantly-changing score, taking walkers on an immersive audio journey through the breathtaking landscape as they explore the footpaths down the river to the sea, from the depths of winter to high summer.
“The original commission took two years to complete and was a very exciting project, taking walkers on a journey through time across a very special place,” says Ed. “There was also a heritage aspect to it.
“I have always been fascinated by the geography of the landscape and it was wonderful to look at it from above as well, through the aerial photography by Fergus Kennedy, which gave us extraordinary insights.
“The seasons of the year have been captured in music by different composers, most notably by Vivaldi, and for me, combining my orchestral music with Cesca’s outstanding images was an amazing experience.
“Now, thanks to the App, walkers can experience extraordinary music in real time and space as they make their way along the river. It was a privilege to work with music in a beautiful landscape and the whole concept was to relate pieces to changing aspects of the scenery, from the amazing colours of lyrical spring and the height of summer, to the frozen landscape of winter when my music reflects the jagged patterns of the ground as seen from above.
“The music for autumn has lots of changes, the harmony a bit like the changing colours that suffuse the valley at the time of year.
“The seasons of the year have been captured in music by different composers, most notably by Vivaldi, and for me, combining my orchestral music with Cesca’s outstanding images was an amazing experience.”
Ed, a composer and conductor renowned for his original and audacious work, is Professor of Composition at the University of Sussex. Part of his work there is to develop new ideas and the Cuckmere project is very dear to his heart.
To share the sights and sounds of this lovely place, download the free Echoes Interactive Sound Walks and the Cuckmere walk on a phone or tablet. •