Standing a towering 50 feet high and weighing more than 70 tonnes, it’s usually an instrument for only the most accomplished of musical maestros.
But visitors to this year’s incredible Light Night Leeds will get the once-in-a-lifetime chance to compose a unique cerebral symphony on Leeds Town Hall’s magnificent 160-year-old organ using only the power of their minds.
Artist Marcus Lyall’s installation, entitled On Your Wavelength: Pulling Out all the Stops will use specialist equipment including an EEG headset and the latest software to read participants’ brain activity and monitor their levels of focus.
Each person’s individual readings will then be brought to life in the form of an extraordinary display of light and sounds, played through the gigantic organ’s 6,500 antique pipes.
Marcus, who has previously created light and sound pieces in London as well as for top artists including The Chemical Brothers said:
“The headset measures the specific electrical activity that’s going on in your head. That activity can tell us a lot, but one of the things it can show us very clearly is how focussed a person is and how much they are concentrating on one particular thing.
“For this installation, by concentrating their mind, each individual person will be able to control the movement and focus an arch of lasers as well as the tone and pitch of the music that will be coming straight from the Leeds Town Hall organ.”
“Because each person’s focus will be different, it’ll be a unique experience for everyone.”
The remarkable organ that visitors will be controlling was built by Gray and Davison around 160 years ago and is one of the largest of its kind in Europe.
It was first played when the Town Hall was opened by Queen Victoria in 1858 and has been one of the building’s most visually stunning features ever since.
Marcus added: “Leeds Town Hall is an amazing building, and the organ is an incredible piece of equipment which really represents the pinnacle of that Victorian style.
“There’s something that feels almost naughty about having a go on the organ for yourself, but this is such an amazing part of our history and it’s a real privilege to be opening it up in a new way to people on Light Night.”
Now in its 13th year, Light Night Leeds takes place on October 5 and 6. More than 60 innovative arts installations and events will illuminate key landmarks and locations across the city centre and give people a chance to explore them in a whole new way.
Other highlights will include an illuminated light maze at Granary Wharf and a breath-taking projection by leading UK artist Ross Ashton on Leeds Civic Hall, featuring some of the many people and events which have played a part in the story of Leeds.
Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council said:
“There really is nothing like the atmosphere on Light Night and the sheer colour and creativity of the imaginative installations which transform our city each year is genuinely awe-inspiring.”
On Your Wavelength: Pulling Out all the Stops will take place on both October 5 and 6. Details on more installations will be released in the coming weeks.
For more details on Light Night Leeds, including how to plan your evening, please visit: http://whatson.leeds.gov.uk/lightnight