River Aura Symphony is an experimental orchestration of the Turku city soundscape, performed by church bells, shiphorns, alarms and cannons.
The first performance was on 15th of January 2011, prior the opening festivities of Turku the European Capital of Culture Year in Forum Marinum.
River Aura Symphony started with church bells around the city and culminated in the River Aura valley. The main part is were played by the shiphorns, tyfons and klaxons (alarms) in the River Harbour together with Arma Aboa´s black powder cannon.
The best way to listen to the soundscape was by walking down the river from Martinsilta bridge towards Forum Marinum. The soundscape w changed while you walk. Distances between the tyfons was more than two kilometers.
There were not so many ships in the River Aura, because of the exceptional ice and snow situation in January 2011. 13 ships participated in this performance. Every ship has its own sound: the biggest tyfons are in the biggest ships like Bore and Suomen Joutsen (The Swan of Finland), while some smaller ships have very beautiful tyfons, like Estelle and Lily.
Our intention is to perform the River Aura Symphony several times during the year 2011. Every performance is unique. The weather conditions, the ships that are participating and several other factors affect the soundscape. This is also an experimental project, we are studying and experimenting how different factors affect the acoustics.
We are aiming for a way to include ship and harbour sounds to the Turku soundscape - River Aura Symphony could develope into a tradition, performed at least once a year.
Next performance of River aura symphony will be on Friday 27th of May at 5:30 pm.
River Aura Symphony is accomplished by sound artist Simo Alitalo, he also conducted the performance on Saturday 15th of January.
13 churches or chapels, 13 ships and 6 alarms and Arma Aboa´s black powder cannons participated in the performance, there was about 70 performers and recordists: musicians, sextons, ship owners and volunteers.
The River Aura Symphony was recorded and broadcasted on radio during the International Acoustic Art theme night, Art’s Birthday, by YLE Culture and Euroradio on Monday, 17th January 2011.
An example of the recording can be heard on Kunstradio`s web site: (the second piece at the bottom of the page:
Finnish Broadcasting Company made it´s own re-mix of the performance:
Inspiration for this work has been derived, among others, from Arseni Avraamov´s Symphony for the Sirens, premiered in Baku in 1922. Avraamov´s sound sources included naval factory whistles, foghons and artillery.
The performance is based on methods developed by several sound artists in different performances - at St. John´s Sound Symposium and by Hildegard Westerkamp in Vancouver.