The Syrian community shares sound memories

Terra Nova Productions, Northern Ireland’s intercultural theatre company, funded by Ards and North Down Borough Council’s Good Relations and the NI Executive Office, has worked during lockdown with the Syrian community in the Borough on an experimental audio art pilot project called Syria Sound of Memory.

Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 3:21 pm
Andrea Montgomery from Terra Nova Productions, The Mayor of Ards and North Down Cllr Trevor Cummings and Nick Boyle composer for the project on behalf of Terra Nova Productions. Pic by Ian Pedlow

Working with international talent in the field of audio art, the project uses music and sounds to recreate a lost audio world and bring alive memories of one perfect happy day in the city of Homs, Syria.

Northern Ireland based professional artists: Andrea Montgomery (script writer), Nick Boyle (composer) worked alongside international audio artist Jeph Vanger, based in Athens, to support participants to create and contribute to the content development including story board, scripts, music and sounds. The audio art consists of soundscapes, created from scratch using found sounds and snatches of conversation recorded by participants into their smartphones, accompanied by original music inspired by memories shared.

Working entirely via zoom, the project included support from Arabic/ English translator Ramy Aguib who helped artists and participants build new ways to try to understand each other as well as shape a work of art in each other’s unknown languages.

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Syria Sound of Memory will immerse listeners in a 14 minute audio experience including Arabic, framed in an English explanation which was recorded by local participants. Through 5 pieces of original music and sounds, listeners will be transported to the city of Homs, Syria where they will visit the Khalid ibn al-Walid Mosque gardens (a popular beauty spot enjoyed by citizens of all religions before the war), on the first day of Eid, a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of the month-long dawn-to-sunset fasting of Ramadan.

Over 20 participants were recruited via Barnardos, who had connections to the Syrian community through previous projects, and through Terra Nova Productions’ local network developed during their successful production of A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream supported by Ards and North Down Borough Council in 2019.

Syria Sound of Memory will be available at www.terranovaproductions.net and website www.ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk from May 12.