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Sarah Kenchington – Wind Pipes For Edinburgh

Trinity Apse, Chalmers Close, 42 High Street, August 1st-September 1st

Sarah Kenchington has no desire to be a one-woman band. This is clear in her latest hand-built musical instrument/installation for Edinburgh Art Festival, am interactive construction made from a hundred decommissioned church organ pipes, which, with no keyboards involved, requires at least six players to operate the bellows.

“The pipe organ's becoming a bit of an endangered species,” says Kenchington, who began making Heath Robinsonesque musical instruments out of collected detritus a decade ago. “A lot of them are being scrapped, because they're incredibly expensive to maintain and repair, so this has become a bit of an orphanage for unwanted pipes. There are enough bellows for twenty-four people. Normally only one bloke gets to play a church organ, but now anyone can play. ”

This is part of a mission Cambridge-born Kenchington appears to be on to reclaim the effort of making music as well as to democratise it.

“It's about swimming against the tide of everything being plugged in, and putting the physical back in music,” she says. “I started off as a maker, but was never quite happy with just sticking something on a plinth. At one point I ended up making a pedal-powered instrument that was just operated by me. I felt I'd gone off track, because I didn't want it to be me just sitting there on a stage. I felt like I'd let my instruments down.”

As well as its daily showings, a series of concerts will feature contributions from the likes of Eagleowl and regular collaborator, The One Ensemble's Daniel Padden, all of whom will have to deal with the instrument's more random elements.

“It's a great leveller,” Kenchington says. “it's not designed for virtuosos. It's more about groups of people playing simple parts together. At a very early age, you either get music or you don't, because of the way it's taught. This is about getting music back to the people.”


The List, July 2013

ends

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