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Building a church on the streets of Moscow

Let’s head to the centre of Moscow, Russia today – listen to a singer on the steps of the 1812 Museum singing traditional folk songs on a warm night (recorded on a mobile phone).

A competing saxophone busker outside Ploshchad Revolyutsii station can be heard in the background, competing with these beautiful songs with something altogether more prosaic.

For the reimagined sound, we’ve simply tried to place this beautiful singer into a church, constructed in sound.

Her voice has a meditative, praise-like quality that immediately put me in mind of church singing.

From here, I’ve constructed a stage for her in sound, placing her at the centre of a fabricated church service.

The door creaks open, and the organist enters before playing a brief, droning introduction. The street singer performs her encomium within the church, after which there’s a recording of me reading out a prayer inside an empty church in Worcestershire, England.

The bells ring out at the end to close the service – the soundscape is constructed from the sounds of English churches recorded in 2017 for our Sacred Spaces project (church readings, bells hand-rung by me, door sounds and the sounds of my own footsteps), enveloping and providing a home for the Russian singer.

City version:

Memory version: