• Brighton Symphony of a City

    Ed Hughes-Lizzie Thynne-OSL-Brighton Dome-2016-05-11. Live music and silent film ‘Brighton Symphony of a City’ 11.5.2016 Brighton Dome. Credit Victor FrankowskiBrighton Symphony of a City (Thynne, Hughes, 2016) was a commission for the 50th anniversary of the Brighton Festival where it premiered at a sold out performance at the Brighton Dome with a live performance of the score by the Orchestra of Sound and Light conducted by the composer, Prof Ed Hughes (University of Sussex).

    The 45 minute silent film by Prof Lizzie Thynne (University of Sussex) gives a kaleidoscopic view of this unique seaside town, evoking the past in the present and the extraordinary in the everyday. A vibrant score by Ed Hughes animates daily activities and festive events in the seaside town of Brighton, wittily echoing the silent classic, Berlin Symphony of a City (Ruttmann, 1927). All-weather bathers plunge into winter seas at sunrise. Residents work, commute, flirt and play and do surprising things in their offices. Homelessness and gentrification collide; forgotten attractions and rituals are glimpsed in sparkling amateur movies. ‘Father Neptune’ is dunked in the waves in a raucous custom from 1951; 1930s marchers celebrate the anniversary of the Soviet Union and modern protestors commemorate Gaza. The elegant ferris wheel, a contemporary icon destined for destruction, marks the passage of time. The day culminates in night-time revelry, astounding puppetry and the winter solstice festival, ‘The Burning of the Clocks’.

    A DVD of the film and music is available on Métier records.

    ‘A vibrant and engaging portrait of the famously bohemian city by the sea’
    Silent London

    ‘A mesmerising film… an ambitious and impressive project. Its strength is in its brave exploration of the ordinary and the everyday, both in terms of contemporary culture and the use of archive’

    ‘A beautifully shot film… little snippets of everyday life are superbly captured, well thought out and witty’
    The Argus)

    ‘Hughes’s superb score for Lizzie Thynne’s evocative dawn-to-dusk portrait ‘Brighton: Symphony of a City’ for an orchestra of 21 players... The images never settle on one idea for long and seamlessly incorporate fleeting episodes of archive footage. This allows the composer to constantly vary the colours, textures and rhythms of his music - given the modest size of his ensemble he does this most effectively. In a work of this length a soundtrack could easily degenerate into tokenistic repetition, but the sheer variety of the material Hughes produces is deeply impressive’

    Still from live music and silent film ‘Brighton Symphony of a City’rehearsal 9.10.2020 ACCA- MusicWeb on Symphonic Visions (DVD) METIER DVD MSVDX103

    Further information


  • Digital Ghost Hunt

    Students taking part in a digital ghost huntDigital Ghost Hunt is ground-breaking fusion of augmented reality, coding education, and immersive theatre. It combines performance, making, immersive technologies, pedagogy, creative coding and storytelling to activate heritage spaces. Digital Ghost Hunt is novel as an AR experience since it does not rely on screens but allows audiences to use digital and embodied ‘sensing’. Led by Mary Agnes Krell (Professor of Creative Media), the team were primarily interested in how immersive experience can be designed so as to emphasise and deepen sociality and engagement with the physical world.

    Digital Ghost Hunt asks; How does agency produce immersion and transform learning? How can coding be re-framed as story-making? How can technology be used to create a sense of place and uncover historical memories? The project saw participants build and program ghost detectors using Python programming language and a theatre company collaborate to develop immersive performances in heritage spaces.

    A man in a white coat holding the ghost detectorThe result was a series of live immersive performances in which each story is encoded into the fabric of a building using both digital and traditional theatrical technologies, and participants are required to decode the narrative through their ‘ghost detector’.

    Digital Ghost Hunt was a collaboration between The University of Sussex, King’s Digital Lab (Co-Investigator, Elliott Hall) and KIT Theatre (Director, Tom Bowtell). One of the project’s Co-Investigators (Carina Westling) completed her PhD at Sussex and is now faculty at Bournemouth University. Digital Ghost Hunt has been twice funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of their New Immersive Experiences scheme. The project was included in a joint AHRC/British Council UKRI Immersive Mission to the USA (2019).

    Find out more

  • Festival of Ideas

    The Sussex Festival of Ideas is a dynamic and engaging programme of talks, events and activities, from the newly-formed School of Media, Arts and Humanities.

    In its inaugural year (running 9-11 June 2021), the festival celebrates a host of contemporary ideas around documentary and film, music and creative practice, poetry and language, as well as the vital role of our local cultural institutions. We are working in partnership with the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts to create a series of discussions and performances that reflect the critical and creative community of students and staff in the School of Media, Arts and the Humanities.

    We see this as an important opportunity for diverse audiences to connect with vibrant work collaboratively produced by a wide range of students, staff and community partners, including Charleston, Towner, Farley Farm, Photo Works and Audio Active. 

    The Centre is involved in a number of events including the Creative Practice Symposium, Practices of Community in the Arts and Humanities, Sounding Spaces, Brain Dead Ensemble and film screenings of I Get Up and The Disappearing of Vincent Gambini.

    Find out more

  • Pier to Pier

    Orange bench on the beach looking out to seaWhat is it like to live on the edge? What keeps us balanced in turbulent times? What do we feel when we look to the horizon?

    Pier to Pier is an outdoor installation that was part of Brighton Festival 2021. It was created and devised by RAPT, led by Emma Higham and Lisa Peck, Lecturer in Theatre Practice in the School of Media, Arts and Humanities. RAPT (Reaserch, Artistry, Participation, Theatre) creates work that brings together artists, researchers and community groups.

    Between 10 May and 6 June a bright orange audio bench appeared at 10 locations across the 14 miles between Brighton and Worthing Piers, including Shoreham Fort and the South Downs National Park. The public were invited to sit, look out to the horizon and listen to a soundscape which included fragments from interviews with 14 local people who live and work along the coast, reflecting on what it’s like to live on the very edge of the country. 

    A sea swimmer, a whale stranding expert, a nurse, a coastguard, a fisherman, someone who left, someone who stayed. 

    The audio reminiscences formed part of a soundtrack that included a new arrangement created for the project by film composer Jocelyn Pook, performed by over 50 community singers from choirs along the Sussex coast.  

    Find out more

    Pier to Pier is funded by Arts Council England, Chalk Cliff Trust and Enjoolata Foundation.

  • Sound Walks

    Echoes Interactive Soundwalks (2020), for a soundwalk enabling users to enjoy site specific specially composed orchestral music on a walk along the Cuckmere River and into Cuckmere Haven. Profiled on BBC South TV 9.9.2020.

    Still from live music and silent film commission Brighton Festival 2018 (premiere 5 May 2018 ACCA)Ditchling Museum of Art+Craft and Brighton Festival (soundwalk 2021). A soundwalk of specially recorded orchestral music directly inspired by landscape and geo-located for users to explore the South Downs National Park through the Echoes Interactive Soundwalks App.The walk started at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft and led up the Sussex Border Path and South Downs Way to Ditchling Beacon. With embedded images reflecting the museum’s collection and music by Ed Hughes.

  • Within a Forest Dark

    A two day research workshop, leading to an experimental performance, was held in the Brighton and Sussex Medical School and the Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts at the University of Sussex. It explored the experience of transition into a care home towards the end of life, and how the challenges of this new world can be expressed through music and words.

    Co-devised by Prof Jackie Cassell, Prof Ed Hughes and theatre maker Peter Cant.

    Music by Ed Hughes.

    Libretto by Peter Cant.

    Directed by Peter Cant.

    The workshop involved professional and amateur musicians with personal experience and knowledge of care homes, dementia and scabies at the end of life.

    We want to develop this work into a participatory musical experience focussing on the common yet hidden experiences of dementia, and of outbreaks of infection in care homes for the frail elderly.  We hope to explore how the forms of narrative and music can be used to understand and address these existential challenges of closed communities, from multiple perspectives.   

    This video is a record of the research workshop’s practice research outcome - an initial reading of the music theatre piece, as an indication of potential for development.


    DIANA, a retired schoolteacher, is facing challenges. She no longer recognises her surroundings and thinks she is in a dark forest, expressing her confusion in the words of Dante which she taught during her career. Her husband, JEFFREY, recounts growing difficulty  to his daughter JUDITH.

    JEFFREY recalls DIANA’s fall which led to her decline. JOY the care home assistant reassures JEFFREY, but then alerts JUDITH to a new problem - DIANA is feeling itchy. JOY recalls her own experience of being treated for scabies as a small child.

    DIANA, now suffering intolerable itching and increasingly confused, expresses her agony through a vision of people scratching uncontrollably in Dante’s Inferno Circle 8 where this is the punishment of alchemists and quacks. JOY, JUDITH and JEFFREY try to understand what she is saying. JUDITH recounts the nursing home’s unavailing efforts at solving the problem. DIANA, desperate for relief,  expresses her longing for death as knocking on the door of the earth to be let in, drawing on Chaucer’s The Pardoner’s Tale.

    Finally in an epilogue a JUNIOR DOCTOR describes visiting the scene in the home and finally declaring the scabies outbreak, allowing the spell of itching to be broken at last.


    DIANA (wife): Melanie Sanders

    JEFFREY (husband): John Hancorn

    JUDITH (daughter): Liz Webb

    JOY (care-home assistant): Katie Hawks

    JUNIOR DOCTOR: Liz Kelly


    Piano: Will Hancox

    Lighting: Lee Kennedy

    Composer: Ed Hughes

    Librettist and Director: Peter Cant


    Supported by

    The Research Opportunities Fund (University of Sussex)

    The Brighton and Sussex Medical School

    The Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts