A unique cinematic soundtrack to the landscapes surrounding north Norfolk’s Felbrigg Hall

After playing host to the twilight spectacle Wolf's Child at last year's Norfolk and Norwich Festival, this time Felbrigg Hall is giving visitors the chance to explore a 'cinematic walkscape.' Arts correspondent Emma Knights finds out more.

The beautiful setting of Felbrigg Hall, near Cromer, is the star of an new cinematic-style experience created for this year's Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

Walk With Me, which opens tomorrow, is the idea of composers Jeroen Strijbos and Rob Van Rijswijk who have crafted a unique soundscape to add an extra dimension to people's visits to the north Norfolk estate.

For as visitors wander through the picturesque woods and fields and around the lake, their surroundings will become a real-life cinema screen accompanied by their own personal soundtrack of music and stories that will unfold according the path they choose to take.

Mr Strijbos and Mr Van Rijswijk, who are based in The Netherlands, have previously created Walk With Me projects around the world, including across The Netherlands and in Paris, Marseille, New York and Los Angeles.

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Mr Strijbos said: 'The idea is we create an experience in landscape, and we do this with the use of a smartphone and headphones... some people call it physical cinema because what you are seeing is actually there. The images that you are seeing are a reality but it's transformed and coloured by a soundtrack on your headphones. The soundscape changes according to your position in the landscape.'

Inspired by Felbrigg, their latest soundtrack is a mix of music created by Mr Strijbos and Mr Van Rijswijk as well as the sounds of nature recorded on the Felbrigg estate and specially written narrative by Norfolk writer Megan Bradbury.

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Recordings of birds calling and the wind blowing through the trees blend with melodies and fragments of text, as well as the sounds that visitors can also hear happening around them in real-life.

Mr Van Rijswijk said: 'We like to be inspired by the environment and we also record sounds from the environment, and the nice thing with Walk With Me is you can play these sounds back in the same area, so we have a virtual sound layered on top of the real sound but they all come from the same place... it's a play between virtual and real.'

Ms Bradbury's text, which is spoken by a group of actors, echoes Felbrigg's past and present and features a range of voices.

Mr Van Rijswijk said: 'We asked Megan not to write text that you have to read from A to Z but text that is poetic so you can use it in a musical way. It doesn't matter which paragraph you hear first. It's all about walking into little parts of stories or spoken word about Felbrigg. It becomes a magical world you walk into.'

No two people's experiences will be the same as the use of GPS technology means that what visitors will hear will be directly linked to the areas of Felbrigg they choose to explore.

Mr Van Rijswijk said: 'The audience interacts with the music and the words – the way you walk creates your own personal soundtrack. If you go left at some point you will hear different music than if you go right. That's the nice thing with the GPS technology, you can really localise the musical parts and the words in specific areas.'

He added: 'You are actually in a dialogue with the music. You can stay for 30 minutes or you can stay for more than an hour – the more you walk the more you hear.'

Ella Akinlade, general manager at Felbrigg Hall, said they were delighted to host Walk With Me for this year's festival after the success of the outdoor spectacle Wolf's Child which was created by WildWorks and performed there last year.

She said: 'We worked really closely with the festival last year and we just got such good feedback from people about Wolf's Child. We are enjoying doing something a little bit different. We are looking at contemporary art and trying different things. It's a great way to get people to enjoy the estate and do something quirky that you would not necessarily expect from a National Trust property.'

She added: 'What's lovely [about Walk With Me] is that they have worked really closely with the people on the estate. It's really specific to Felbrigg. It's really special.'

Walk With Me is at Felbrigg Hall from Friday until Sunday, October 30. The event lasts about 90 minutes. Tickets £8, including the use of an iPad and headphones.

To book, visit www.nnfestival.org.uk or call the box office on 01603 766400.

Walk With Me is Norfolk & Norwich Festival and National Trust co-comission supported by North Norfolk District Council.

Do you have a festival story? Email arts correspondent Emma Knights at emma.knights@archant.co.uk

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