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Utopia A2 – Debussy’s Cathedral

Today we head down to the second location in Utopia, which has been examined and imagined by artists from Poland and the USA, who explain their approaches below.

Utopia, section A2
Utopia, section A2

Debussy’s Cathedral – Erik Gould, Pawtucket, USA

“I was drawn to this section by it’s suggestion of a rocky coast and what may be a church or monastery clinging to a rugged cliff. I imagined the sounds of the sea and then I recalled an aural image of another mythological place, the sunken cathedral in the evocative prelude by Claude Debussy.

In this piece, ‘La cathédrale engloutie’, Debussy creates an impression of the mythic cathedral as it rises momentarily from a clear morning sea, suggesting the peal of bells and the singing of the choir carried on the wind.

This work is based on an ancient Breton legend of the Island of Ys. In my piece I have taken up the thought that the church depicted in my corner of Utopia would someday suffer the same fate, and may perhaps be the very same place.

I imagined it not yet sunken into the ocean, but still standing precariously high above the waves, alive with the sounds of religious service. The bells follow Debussy’s tonal progression, suggesting the future fate of the church.

I imagine the listener standing outside, perhaps on the rocks below with the smell and the sound of the surf close by. In my own Utopia the most profound religious experience happens out of doors.

This sound was constructed with my own field recordings of the Rhode Island coast and from recordings from the London Sound Survey. The snippet of the Debussy prelude is from a recording by Ruben Yessayan.”


New Zealand, Laos, Cambodia, London – Piotr Jarosznyski, Wroclaw, Poland

“Firstly, I did my homework and read the book written by Thomas More.

Unfortunately, we learnt a lot about finding a Utopian society through the last half millennium, and sadly tried some authors’ ideas.

Conclusions are not easy and rather bleak. So I refrained from the book and created mixture of sounds from places which are somehow connected with my good memories and this piece of picture.

So you will hear creek from New Zealand, morning countryside soundscape from Laos, mixed with frogs from Cambodia and seagulls from London. As a pinch of salt I have added some urban echo of passing planes, also recorded in London.”