Musician turned “sonic artist” Bobby Bird is using the sounds of James Watt’s steam engines to create “immersive” surround sound performances.

His composition, “Watt’s Orbit”, was first performed in 2016. He’s now updating the work for 2019, the 200th anniversary of Watt’s death.

Previous performances have earned rave reviews. One resident said: “I felt as though I was inside the engine! The sound circling me. The amazing acoustics … made it a truly wonderful immersive experience.”

Bird will be in residence at Vivid Projects in Birmingham from June 27-July 8. Music students and other interested parties will be able to hear the work in progress and discuss the project with the artist by prior arrangement.

He’ll also be delivering a full concert of “Watt’s Orbit” on Saturday, September 21, at the city’s St. Paul’s Church.

Visit the Watt’s Orbit website to find out more and to hear a sample of the composition.

Bird grew up in Handsworth, the suburb of the city that became the final resting place for James Watt. His website says: “He first saw a Boulton and Watt engine at the Museum of Science and Industry on Newhall Street, where he often found it more interesting to spend his time than attending school.”

St Paul's Church, in the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, England. By Oosoom. This picture is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
St Paul’s Church, in the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, England – the location for the Watt’s Orbit Concert on September 21, 2019. Picture by Oosoom – licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. More info here.

Summary: Sonic artist Bobby Bird will give an immersive live surround sound performance of his composition “Watt’s Orbit”, created from the sounds and rhythms of James Watt’s steam-driven beam engines, recorded at Papplewick Pumping Station, Crofton Beam Engines, The London Museum of Steam and Water, and Thinktank Birmingham.

Date: Saturday, September 21, 2019

Times: Doors open at 7.30 p.m.

Location: St Paul’s Church, St Paul’s Square, Jewellery Quarter,Birmingham B3 1QZ

Admission: Tickets cost £12, plus an 80p handling charge. Book online here

Access to venue: Visit the Church website – or contact the parish administrator: enquiries@stpaulsjq.church

Any additional relevant information: Visit the Watt’s Orbit website for full details.