Passengers at Manchester's Piccadilly Station will hear something more intriguing than platform announcements on Saturday 4 July. More than 150 musicians from Manchester's Royal Northern College of Music – including two string orchestras, a couple of brass bands, eight harps and a clutch of peripatetic wind-players plus percussion – will be working up a head of steam when they present a new musical installation there.
The instrumentalists will come and go throughout the day, up and down escalators, around the station's mighty columns, creating a patchwork of musical sounds under the direction of composer Peter Wiegold. His aim is to complement the bustle of a busy terminal and the score will be partly improvised from the sounds and atmosphere of that particular day. In the evening, all the players will come together, joined by four couples frozen in Brief Encounter moments based on Noël Coward's play.
Whether or not the five conductors will have flags or whistles remains to be seen but they will be sure to avoid inhaling coal-dust or getting grit in their eyes. The soundscape, which will include a part for a pair of pitched horns in adjacent Pendolino trains, will incorporate the rhythms of trains as well as the crisscross patterns of tracks and the relentless pulse of station life. Network Rail's station manager is confident that, by the time the performers fade into the distance, passengers will be saying (though possibly not in Laura's cut-glass accent), "I want to remember every minute, always, always to the end of my days."
Piccadilly, Manchester, 4 July. Throughout the day then 9-10pm. FreeReuse content