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Singing the praises of The Monument

7 November 2011
Samuel Bordoli, composer of 'Monument' at The Monument on 2 October.

One of the City of London's great landmarks, The Monument, for much of its history the world's tallest free standing column, was host to a unique musical event on the weekend of 1&2 October.

The Monument was built in Portland limestone to commemorate the Great Fire of London of 1666 and was lately restored by Chichester masonry company CWO (for which they won a Masonry Company Craft Award last month – see the 'Masons Company Craft Awards' entry on the 'News' headings).

The music was being performed by Live Music Sculpture at no extra cost to visitors to The Monument, which is open to the public every day from 9.30am to 5.30pm.

This is the first event of its kind to be hosted inside the 61.5m (202ft) high stone structure in the 334 years since it was built.

While walking up and down the 311 steps of the spiral stone staircase, visitors saw and heard the five musicians positioned inside the four large alcoves and at the bottom of the stairs. The vertical performance space created interesting resonances as visitors went higher up the stairs to the viewing platform, where they get a 360 degree view of London’s impressive skyline, taking in Tower Bridge and the dome of St Paul's.

The creator of the event, Samuel Bordoli, is an award-winning composer and musician. He composed the 20-minute piece, entitled 'Monument', which was repeated at regular intervals throughout the two days – 18 performances in all.

Samuel says: “I had been looking to do something different with acoustics for quite some time and on visiting the Monument last year I realised it was the perfect place to develop my ideas.

“Working with the building’s acoustic properties, we have been able to create sounds and musical effects which would be impossible to achieve anywhere else. This will be a truly historical event, and Live Music Sculpture will be the first people ever to have composed music specifically for – and performed it in – this magnificent structure.

"This temporarily alters its function, which has not been done in the 334 years since it was constructed. This will also be the first piece of music composed for a vertical space/column, an act which, as far as we are aware, is unprecedented.”

Chris Earlie, Marketing & Creative Development Manager of The Monument, said: “We are so excited to have someone as creative as Samuel write a piece of music especially for the Monument. Samuel’s creative insight and music vision will display the Monument at its best and offer its visitors a completely new and unique experience.”

Samuel Bordoli and Live Music Sculpture

  • Samuel Bordoli founded Live Music Sculpture in 2011. He is concerned with the notion of creating large, living breathing musical sculptures in unique architectural spaces. He explores the impact of acoustical curiosities on form, structure, colour and harmony, and ultimately encourages musical exploration with all the senses from the listener.
  • The first of these Live Music Sculptures will be performed in the Monument where the entire structure will be transformed into a huge, resonant musical instrument.
  • The actual instruments playing in the Monument will be the viola, violin, horn, clarinet and a soprano.
  • Samuel currently holds the Mendelssohn Scholarship. His music has been performed by Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, the London Sinfonietta, Tête à Tête Opera Festival, Exaudi and the Southbank Sinfonia.

The Monument

  • The Monument was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke and was built in 1671-7 to commemorate the Great Fire of London which devastated the City in 1666. It is constructed of Portland stone and the simple Doric column is topped by a flaming copper orb symbolising the Fire.
  • The Monument underwent a £4.5million restoration project in 2007 which took two years to complete.
  • It is maintained by the City of London at its own expense, is open to the public every day from 9.30am-5.30pm (last admission 5.00pm). Admission costs £3.00 per adult and £1.00 per child (under 16). Joint tickets with Tower Bridge for £8.00 and £3.50 respectively are also available. The nearest underground station is Monument.

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