Music by Jóhann Jóhannsson
Produced by Forma
Featuring American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) &
The Denver Brass performing the score
“The Miners’ Hymns” is a wordless film by American multi-media artist Bill Morrison with a musical score by Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson. The music will be performed live by Jóhannsson on electronics, a string quartet formed of members of the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME), and an 18-member brass ensemble formed by The Denver Brass.
Former coal mining communities in Northeast England are the subject of Morrison’s documentary film. The story is told using rarely-seen footage from the British Film Institute, the BBC, and other archives, spanning 100 years. “The Miners’ Hymns” celebrates social, cultural, and political aspects of an extinct industry. It depicts the hardship of pit work, increasing mechanization, and the fight for workers’ rights.
Jóhannsson’s composition draws on the brass music tradition that was so intertwined with the mining communities. Each mining community had its own brass band, comprised of miners, which played at social and union events, such as the Miners’ Gala, in its heyday the largest trades union event in Europe, attended by over 250,000 people.