Brighton: Symphony of a City

Length: 46'

Brighton Dome, Brighton Festival 50th Anniversary, 11th May 2016
Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts, University of Sussex, 7th Oct 2016
Unitarian Chapel, New Road, Brighton, 1st Jun 2018

Publisher: UYMP

Genre: Orchestra


Link to the Brighton Festival Website 2016

Link to the Orchestra of Sound and Light Website

Link to the Brighton Symphony of a City Website



Brighton: Symphony of a City




for orchestra:

2 flutes

2 oboes (1st doubling cor anglais)

2 clarinets (1st doubling bass clarinet)

alto saxophone

2 bassoons

2 horns

2 trumpets

2 trombones

1 timpani

1 percussion (B.D., susp cymbal)

1 drum set

1 piano

3 electric guitars

1 bass guitar



Duration: 46 minutes


Brighton: Symphony of a City

Commissioned by Brighton Festival 2016


Film director: Lizzie Thynne

Editor: Phil Reynolds

Composer: Ed Hughes




Brighton: Symphony of a City was conceived in collaboration with the film maker Lizzie Thynne. The project was inspired by the city symphony films of the 1920s and 1930s. Through a silent film with live music the aim was a visual and musical portrait of the city of Brighton. It was commissioned for the 50th anniversary of the Brighton Festival and premiered in the Brighton Dome with the Orchestra of Sound and Light, conducted by the composer, on 11 May 2016. The film creates a dynamic portrait of Brighton today, and in its dawn to dusk and then night approach consciously references Walter Ruttmann’s great rhythmic and poetic film ‘Berlin: Symphony of a Great City’ (1927). The music conveys colour and contrasts, echoing those of the modern urban environment, but constantly aware of seascape. As writer and musicologist Mervyn Cooke observes, gently pulsating cross rhythms and subtle dislocations of the metre, combined with long-breathed dynamic ebbs and flows and vividly contrasting orchestral colours, wonderfully capture not only the broad sweep of the city itself, but also (as with Vigo’s Nice) the alluring expanse of the open sea beyond its shore.


Unlike Ruttmann’s film, Thynne also draws on archival silent moving images from Screen Archive South East, creating unexpected, informative and poignant juxtapositions. Towards the close of the film the images employ montage and the music and picture seem to fuse into a state of symphony as their separate languages merge.