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Edge performance at Life

Specially written for The International Centre for Life Planetarium and the British Science Festival Newcastle 7-12 September, 2013, Edge brings together two innovative creative talents in an extraordinary confluence of science and art.

The inaugural performance of Edge - a half-hour long sound-journey of words and computer music, by Katrina Porteous and Peter Zinovieff, uses sound data collected from the solar system and explores themes of chaos and the cosmos through science and art and is to be performed by the artists in tandem with a Life Planetarium visual display by planetarium supervisor Christopher Hudson. The performance is to be recorded for future use by Radio 4 for Poetry Please.

Edge takes us on an extraordinary sound-journey across four different ‘worlds’ – four particular moons of our solar system representing the primary elements, Water, Fire, Earth and Air. The newly-written text, performed by its author, Katrina Porteous, draws on a range of dramatic voices, poetry, chant and incantation, and the specially-composed computer music, performed by its composer, Peter Zinovieff, uses sound data collected from space on the Apollo, Voyager and Cassini-Huygens missions.

Two of the four moons featured in Edge – Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus and its giant moon Titan, with its methane lakes and atmosphere – are thought to contain conditions which could potentially sustain primitive life. A third, Jupiter’s violently volcanic moon Io, represents an entirely hostile world which continually remakes itself, while the fourth, our own Moon, is a dead world, which paradoxically plays a vital role in the emergence and continuance of life on Earth.

Edge follows a precise tidal structure, which allows us to visit and revisit each ‘world’ in turn, exploring, as we do so, the relation between chaos and cosmos. Along the way, we pick up clues to the possibility of the first stirrings of primitive life, and finally, from Earth’s Moon, we catch sight of our own planet, distinguished by the emergence not only of DNA, but ultimately of consciousness and imagination.

Out of the stuff of stars –
Gas, dust, ice –
Someone is painstakingly
Threading a necklace.

Extract II (Saturn’s moon, Titan) Katrina Porteous

Too long in the oven, a grey cinder. 
A pumice-stone. A lump of clinker.

Extract III (Earth’s Moon) Katrina Porteous

Notes to editors:

Peter Zinovieff and Katrina Porteous are both available for interview. Further extracts from Edge are available upon request.


Peter Zinovieff is a legend in the world of electronic music. He founded England’s first computer music studio in the 1960s, where he created the world’s first affordable portable synthesizer, the VCS3, used by Pink Floyd and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, among many others. In his ground-breaking computer-controlled studio he worked extensively with contemporary classical composers, including Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Hans Werner Henze. His own recent compositions include the multi-track spatial Bridges from Somewhere and Another to Somewhere Else for TBA 21’s Morning Line installation in Istanbul and Vienna (2010-11); the violin concerto Our with Aisha Orazbayeva; Good Morning Ludwig for surround-sound multi-channel electronics (TBA 21, ZKM Karlsruhe, 2012); and, with Katrina Porteous, Horse for the BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking Festival at The Sage Gateshead 2011.


Katrina Porteous is one of Britain’s most exciting radio poets. Much of her innovative work has been produced by BBC Senior Producer Julian May, who describes her as ‘extending the boundaries of the genre’. Her radio poems include: Beach Ride (Radio 4 2001), An Ill Wind (Radio 3 2001), Longshore Drift (Radio 3 2003), Dunstanburgh (Radio 4 2004), The Refuge Box (Radio 3 ‘Between the Ears’ 2007) and Horse with Peter Zinovieff (2011). Katrina is President of the Northumbrian Language Society and an Ambassador for New Networks for Nature. Two Countries, a book and CD including new recordings of some of her radio work, will be published by Bloodaxe in 2014.

Created with support from Arts Council England Grants For the Arts

International Centre For Life (Planetarium), Times Square, Newcastle, NE1 4EP

Date: Sunday 8th September

Time: 4.00PM – 5.00PM (including introduction)

Price: £3-00

Age Appropriate: 12+

Booking information: 0191 243 8223

The performance will be recorded for later broadcast by BBC Radio 4’s Poetry Please (producer: Julian May).

Further performances of this event may occur on Sunday 8th and Monday 9th; times to be confirmed. Please see Life website for latest details nearer the time:

Additional notes for editors: Praise for Horse, a previous collaborative piece by Katrina Porteous and Peter Zinovieff

‘A mysterious and moving interaction of sounds’ – Radio Times (Today’s Choices)

‘Zinovieff’s sound world was frequently choral and vocal in effect, totally belying its mechanical origins...An extremely virtuosic performance...Highly recommended!’ – Rosalind Porter, BBC Radio 3 Blog

‘A spooky words-and-music mix’ – Sunday Times (Pick of the Day)

‘Porteous has a way of raising emotions from the performance, the recorded sound and the spoken word were synchronised with potent accuracy’ – Other Poetry

‘Horse was wonderful – simply wonderful’ – Professor Sean Street, broadcaster and radio historian

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