I was delighted to be invited to contribute to a BBC Radio 3 programme, Between the Ears, with an episode called “The Virtual Symphony“, celebrating 30 years of the Internet, and the impact of it on our lives. I was interviewed for over an hour by the producer, Laurence Grissell, reflecting on my use of the internet and how it has impacted my professional and personal life, my memories of the early days in the physics and computer labs going online, and my thoughts on how it is changing society. Kieran Brunt, the composer, weaved four such interviews in with archive material, and new musical pieces, to produce a documentary that is also an artwork, showing how our relationship to and with the net is changing.
First broadcast on Radio 3 on 18th July 2021 at 19.45, you can listen to it online, or here’s the MP3:
The official blurb goes like this! It would be great to hear what you think of it:
The joys and horrors of the internet, evoked by stories, sounds and an exciting new electronic and vocal work composed by Kieran Brunt. Opens with an introduction by the composer.
30 years ago, Tim Berners-Lee created the very first website. This powerful edition of Between the Ears explores how the internet has dramatically reshaped our lives over the following three decades.
In 1990s Glasgow, a young woman in a physics computer lab glimpses a different future for the world – and herself. In Luton, the web awakens a young man’s Sikh identity – a few years on, it will bring him riches. In 2001, a young mother in France finds escape through Wikipedia. Ten years later, an Austrian law student is horrified when he requests his personal data from Facebook…
Over four movements of music and personal stories, the Virtual Symphony moves from sunny optimism to deep disquiet, as our relationship to the internet shifts. Around these stories, composer Kieran Brunt weaves electronic and vocal elements in an exhilarating new musical work commissioned by BBC Radio 3.
Kieran Brunt and documentary producer Laurence Grissell worked in close collaboration to produce a unique evocation of the way in which the internet has fundamentally changed how we experience and understand the world.
Composer: Kieran Brunt
Producer: Laurence Grissell
Melissa Terras, Harjit Lakhan, Florence Devouard and Max Schrems
Electronics performed by Kieran Brunt
Vocals performed by Kieran Brunt, Lucy Cronin, Kate Huggett, Oliver Martin-Smith and Augustus Perkins Ray of the vocal ensemble Shards
Programme mixed by: Donald MacDonald
Additional music production: Paul Corley
Additional engineering: Ben Andrewes