The sound of a 40 part choir singing in harmony through 40 individual speakers is one of the major works which will feature in an upcoming exhbition at York Art Gallery this winter.

Janet Cardiff’s evocative The Forty Part Motet allows people to walk through an oval of speakers to hear a reworking of Thomas Tallis’ Spem in Alium Nunquam Habui (Hope in Any Other Have I None) from the singers’ point of view.

Spem in alium was composed in 1570 for eight choirs of five voices and is considered to be one of the finest pieces of early English music.

The exhibition is one of the highlights of When All Is Quiet: Kaiser Chiefs in Conversation with York Art Gallery, which opens on 14th December 2018.

Janet Cardiff’s work is an extremely moving experience that immerses the listener in the beauty of this incredible piece of music. You can feel the hairs on your neck rise as you move from speaker to speaker, pausing to enjoy the individual voices which combine in beautiful harmonies.

Dr Beatrice Bertram, Senior Curator at York Art Gallery

Cardiff reworked the choral masterpiece by recording 40 individual male voices from the Salisbury Cathedral Choir (bass, baritone, alto, tenor and child soprano) and playing each individual voice through its own speaker. The speakers are carefully positioned in eight different groups of five. Each group forms a choir of five singers with different vocal ranges so that the visitor can move amongst the 40 speakers to listen to single voices, or be immersed in the overall complexity of the choral ensemble.

Watch the video of Janet Cardiff's work here.

For more information on the exhibition visit the York Art Gallery website.